Sen. Lowenthal introduces Port investment bill to reduce pollution

Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-27th District) introduced Senate Bill 974, the 2007 Port Investment Bill to reduce pollution at certain California ports.
The bill, similar to last session’s SB 927, would provide a funding source to reduce the toxic pollution caused by major California ports and also would provide much needed funding for infrastructure near and at those ports.
In November 2006, voters approved Proposition 1B, a transportation bond which included $1 billion for reducing goods movement pollution and $2 billion for goods movement infrastructure (including a 1-to-1 non-state match). However, the funding falls short of projected needs. According to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), in order to reduce port pollution to below 2001 levels it will cost between $6 billion and $10 billion.
“With the passage of Prop. 1B, the voters of this state have shown their willingness to help pay for goods movement infrastructure as long as they see improvements in air quality,” Lowenthal said. “Now it’s time for the industry to do its part. This bill gives them a mechanism to do just that.”
The Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland are the first, second and fourth largest container ports in the country and account for just under 50 percent of all imports into the United States. The container fee, $30 per 20-foot equivalent container, would raise an estimated $528 million annually. The funds could be used to help speed goods out of the ports more quickly as well as pay for cleaner burning vehicles and innovative strategies to reduce toxic air pollution.
“Thirty dollars per container is a very small price to pay in order to clean up our deadly air and speed the movement of goods. It is high time that major retailers and business interests in this country realize that the public will not tolerate growth without reductions in air pollution,” Lowenthal said.
A 2005 report by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation stated Southern California must spend at least $10.5 billion to improve railroads, rail yards and highways to keep up with surging international trade or risk losing more than 500,000 new jobs and more than $1 billion in taxes a year.