Run, Run Away
Posted October 19, 2009
Today the Port of Long Beach violated the public trust and sold out the citizens of Long Beach by approving a worthless settlement agreement with the American Trucking Association ("ATA") in ATA's lawsuit against the Los Angeles ports' clean trucks programs. Rather than clean up the trucks that serve its port, Long Beach ran away from a fight with ATA - an organization that has opposed clean air regulation locally and nationally - and is content to sit on the sidelines while the Port of Los Angeles pays to clean up the trucks that serve both ports.
It is unheard of, and illegal, for a governmental entity to give away its police powers - its basic powers to protect its residents against harm - but that is just what Long Beach has done when it comes to the port-serving trucks that drive through the streets of the city. The settlement agreement allows licensed motor carriers ("LMCs") to sign a piece of paper saying that their trucks are safe and sound; the trucks can then enter the Port. If there is a dispute about whether what the LMC told the Port is correct, the dispute is resolved by a Port bureaucrat who is employed by the same Harbor Commission that signed the settlement agreement. That staffer can only suspend an LMC if a misstatement is "knowing," and even then only for a maximum of 30 days, or one year for "a pattern of repeated knowing and intentional conduct."
Contrast this laughable disciplinary system with the severe health effects that port trucking has caused in the nearby communities: greatly elevated risks of cancer, asthma and other cardio-respiratory diseases, over 1,000 premature deaths per year, and untold millions of dollars lost to medical visits that could easily be avoided.
Contrast it also with the strong stance taken today by Mayor Bloomberg of New York City and Mayor Booker of Newark, who urged Congress to increase the ability of their ports, and all ports in the country, to protect their residents from the dangers of air pollution. Long Beach Mayor Foster should be ashamed to be in the same room with these public officials - or with Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa, whose vision and courage have led the Port of Los Angeles to be the most advanced in the world in making itself green.
NRDC looks forward to fighting for clean air in a city with the worst air pollution problems in the country. Fights to clean up air pollution cannot be won overnight, but require long-term, sustainable solutions, solutions that the Port of Los Angeles has embraced. Long Beach has failed to take this lesson to heart and continues to disappoint its community and the lungs of those living in the LA region, today and for years to come.
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