Gino DiCaro

Port Bills Flourish

By Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications

Capitol Update, March 4, 2005 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Ninety-seven percent of all goods entering or leaving California by ship go through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. A significant factor in California’s economic recovery will be the viability of our port system. Not only do the ports contribute to California’s economy but to the nation as a whole.

A tremendous amount of attention has been focused on these ports due to air pollution. Further complicating the issue is the fact that much of the surrounding area is considered an environmental justice community. The air quality problem is created by congestion and emissions from ships, rail, trucks, terminals and the port equipment itself. Solutions to alleviate concerns and keep the ports thriving are difficult at best and will be expensive.

The California Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Business, Transportation and Housing have conducted two hearings to hear the concerns of all affected parties. A recommendation is anticipated in early April.

A number of legislators have also entered the fray. Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) introduced many port bills in the past when he was in the Assembly. This year is no different. He alone has four bills related to the ports:

* SB 760 – Ports: Congestion Relief: Security: Environmental Mitigation Fee. This bill would impose a user fee of $30 per twenty-foot equivalent unit ($60/container) payable by the marine terminal operator. The ports would retain 1/3 specifically to improve security. Another 1/3 would go to the South Coast Air Quality Management District to mitigate pollution caused by the movement of cargo to and from the ports via commercial motor vehicles, ocean going vessels, and rail. Projects funded would include: replacing highly-polluting engines, enhancing the use of cold-iron technology, etc. The remaining 1/3 would go to the California Transportation Commission to alleviate congestion on the highways serving the ports by improving the rail system and on dock rail facilities.
* SB 761 – Air Resources: Marine Terminals. Requires each marine terminal in the state to operate in a manner that does not cause trucks to exceed a turn time of 60 minutes while conducting business at a marine terminal and would eliminate specified exemptions. Terminals would have to implement a scheduling or appointment system for trucks to enter the terminal.
* SB 762 – Vehicular Sources: California Intermodal Port Congestion and Environmental Quality. Creates Intermodal Port Congestion Authorities for the ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles and Oakland to control the flow of intermodal freight. This is the Teamster Medallion plan which would shortly put independent operators out of business at the ports.
* SB 763 – Ports: Priority Berthing Program. Requires Los Angeles and Long Beach to develop a program by June 1, 2006 which would provide berthing to ocean-going vessels that use fuel with not more than 0.2% sulfur content.

In addition to Lowenthal’s bills, Senator Joseph Dunn (D-Santa Ana) has introduced SB 848 relating to owner-operator drivers. It would allow the Teamsters to organize all truck drivers entering the ports.

AB 1406 introduced by Assemblymember Betty Karnette (D-Long Beach) would impose a $10 fee on intermodal freight containers with the fee being used for security purposes.

AB 1678 (Lori Saldana D-San Diego) states the Legislature's intent to put infrastructure in place for plug-in (cold ironing) energy sources for docked cruise ships.

SB 1101 (Deborah Oropeza D-Sacramento) imposes AB 2588-like regulations (Air Toxic Hot Spot) on what are deemed diesel magnet sources: rail yards, ports, distribution centers.

And, finally, AJR 8 (Joe Canciamilla D-Pittsburg) would urge the United States Congress to ratify treaty provisions known as Annex VI of MARPOL 73/78, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency to pursue the creation of a North America Sulfur Emission Control Area.
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