PSR-LA and our partners are currently working to enact Senate Bill 974 (Lowenthal), which would raise approximately $400 million a year through port cargo container fees, with revenues evenly split between air quality improvements and congestion relief projects.
In June 2008, PSR-LA members sent over 120 letters to Speaker Karen Bass urging her to support Senate Bill 974 and take leadership to help pass the legislation through the California Assembly. Your strong letters of support worked! SB 974 passed the Assembly floor on July 15th. The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk for signature and enactment.
Every year California spends an estimated $19 billion to pay for hospitalizations, medical care and premature deaths caused by ports and the movement of goods across California by dirty trucks, trains and ships. By 2020, ports and freight transport operations will be the largest source of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in the state, producing more diesel PM than all passenger vehicles, off-road equipment and stationary sources combined.
PM is comprised of over 40 identified toxic air components. It has been implicated in increasing cancer risk, inducing respiratory illnesses such as asthma, reducing heart function, and even causing premature death. NOx emissions have been found to contribute to lung function loss, chest pain, shortness of breath, and an increase in asthmatic symptoms.
A disproportionate number of communities impacted by port pollution are low-income, communities of color who live near and around the ports.
Senate Bill 974, The Ports Investment Bill, aims to place a $30 fee on each container that calls on the Ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles and Oakland. The fee would be used to relieve congestion at the ports, and fund environmental mitigation projects. The ports collect the funds from the cargo owner (i.e. mostly retailers Wal-Mart, Home Depot and other big box stores). Trade at California ports is expected to triple in less than 20 years. Without cleaner technology and infrastructure improvements, the California freight transportation system may not be equipped to handle the increased trade.
Governor Schwarzenegger is expected to sign Senate Bill 974 within the next several weeks or so. We will keep you posted on the bill’s status and thank you again for lending your voice to clean our air and make our communities healthier!