Officials Want Prop 1B Money Used to Clean Dirty Ports

By Published On: March 9, 2007

Much of the $1 billion in clean-air bond money that voters authorized last year should be spent on dockside electrification at California’s major ports to lower their high pollution levels, a panel of public officials told the state Senate March 7. Ports such as those in Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Oakland have become major international trading hubs in the last few years. Their expansion on a global scale has engendered effects on energy use and pollution. The clean-air money is part of a $20 billion bond package, Proposition 1B, that California voters passed last November. The measure targets shipping because the industry is a major and growing cause of air pollution. “Many of the children in Long Beach are contracting asthma so somebody in Kansas can get a cheaper TV,” Long Beach mayor Bob Foster said during a joint meeting of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee and the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. “Goods must pay their fair share.” The state should make sure that expenditures under Proposition 1B complement the state’s greenhouse gas reduction policies, added Barbara Lee, California Air Pollution Control Officers Association representative. As the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach triple their traffic over the next 10 to 15 years, emissions from ships in San Pedro Bay are expected to increase dramatically, said state senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach). The Long Beach Democrat chaired the joint Senate committee meeting held on allocating Proposition 1B money. The Legislature must appropriate the money for specific projects as part of the state budget. The California Air Resources Board will administer the bond’s clean-air projects. A panel of public officials from the port cities and state environmental agencies told Lowenthal that ship emissions would be largely eliminated if the vessels were plugged into dockside power supplied by local electric utilities while in port. Now the ships run onboard engines for power. Proposition 1B also includes $2 billion for infrastructure projects to speed the movement of goods, with the remainder of the money reserved for traffic congestion reduction and public transportation projects. Foster urged linking Proposition 1B’s clean-air money to its $2 billion for transportation improvements aimed at facilitating port growth. Without such a link, the former Southern California Edison president said, the bond fund will fail to deliver cleaner air as promised to voters. “It will create an environmental catastrophe in 10 to 15 years we may not be able to solve,” he warned.

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