A Restriction to Commerce AB 2042

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, July 23, 2004 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

The goal of AB 2042 (Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach) is to ensure a zero net air pollution increase for all future growth at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. The bill allows for a voluntary Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the interested agencies, but if that is not successful, it would require that baseline 2004 emission levels be achieved by 2006.

There is a basic problem concerning the jurisdiction of the ports over emissions. Baseline air emissions come from mobile sources (ocean-going vessels, locomotives and diesel trucks) which are not directly operated or controlled by the ports. The Clean Air Act assigns authority for regulating such sources to the U.S. EPA and, to a lesser extent, Cal EPA. The South Coast Air Quality Management District, the City of Long Beach and the City of Los Angeles do not currently have jurisdiction to regulate emissions from these sources and, in fact are preempted from doing so in most instances.

The prospect of installing costly new emission controls on these transitory sources would likely divert some trade to outlying ports. This outcome could ironically exacerbate Southern California's air quality problems, or at least shift the air quality impact to other locations, since these goods would have to be shipped into the South Coast basin via trucks and railroad. Air quality impacts would become more pronounced over time as the demand for consumer goods in California rises with population growth.

Moreover, restrictions on port expansion are at odds with state and federal programs promoting aggressive investment in California's ports to respond to the demands of population increases and the promise of more jobs and a growing source of tax revenue. The economic importance of these two ports is significant to California's economy. Between the port industry and port users, they provide 706,000 jobs, $30.4 billion in wages and salaries and business sales totaling $90.5 billion.

While CMTA recognizes the need to reduce emission from port-related operations, such reductions should be managed in a manner that allows for future growth at these ports. The State should bring all parties to the table and pursue a MOA similar to the MOA that the railroads signed with the California Air Resources Board, an agreement that can be realistically met, avoiding costly litigation and a restriction to commerce and growth. We should not pass AB 2042, which would hamper the ability to negotiate an MOA by putting an alternative into law that one party would find more favorable than the MOA.

This bill passed the Assembly as well as it's policy committee in the Senate on a party-line vote. It's next scheduled to be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 2nd and will likely go the Senate floor shortly thereafter.
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