Pirate 4x4 banner
1 - 2 of 2 Posts

3,238 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·

Governor Vetoes Port Smog Curbs

Environmentalists say big business wins out over clean air. Also killed are bills to curb outsourcing and allow importation of drugs.

By Deborah Schoch and Nancy Vogel, Times Staff Writers

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday vetoed a bill to force the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to limit air pollution, angering environmentalists who said the health of surrounding residents was being threatened by dirty air from ships, trucks, trains and wharf equipment.

One of the most closely watched environmental bills of the session, the legislation would have required the ports to keep air pollution at or below 2004 levels. The fast-growing Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex is the largest air polluter in Southern California.

John McLaurin, president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Assn., welcomed the veto, calling the bill "clearly well-intended" but "vague in how it was to be implemented and flawed in its construction."

He vowed that the shipping lines and terminal operators his group represents would continue to make changes to improve air quality in Long Beach and Los Angeles.

Environmentalists, however, accused the governor of turning his back on the cause of clean air.

"I think he had a choice between clean air and big business," said Bill Magavern, a senior lobbyist for the Sierra Club. "And he chose big business. The air in the L.A. and Long Beach regions is never going to be clean unless we get a handle on port emissions."

With just one day remaining for the governor to veto bills or see them automatically become law, Schwarzenegger took action on parts of two packages of legislation that have rallied consumer and labor groups:

• He vetoed three of five bills aimed at curbing and tracking the outsourcing of California jobs to foreign countries — a cost-saving practice some companies have turned to.

• He vetoed one of nine bills aimed at cutting prescription drug costs, some by easing access to cheaper Canadian prescription drugs.

Advocates for the disabled, elderly and consumers expect vetoes today on the remaining prescription drug bills, including one that would require the state to establish a website linking consumers to Canadian pharmacies. Drugs can be purchased there up to 40% cheaper than in the U.S.

Federal law bans the importation of prescription drugs from outside the U.S., but an estimated 1 million Americans have bought such drugs either in person or through the mail from Canada to avoid spiraling prices at home.

The governor "has consistently said that he will not sign legislation that is a violation of federal law," Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Ashley Snee said. She noted that the administration had warned authors of the prescription drug bills — all Democrats — that it would oppose the measures unless they were amended.

Snee refused to speculate on the fate of the two remaining outsourcing bills, including one to require large California companies to tell the state each year how many people they employ abroad.

The outsourcing bills killed by the governor included SB 888 by Sen. Joe Dunn (D-Santa Ana) and AB 1829 by Assemblywoman Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge), which together would have banned state agencies from contracting for work done by foreign employees.

Schwarzenegger also vetoed SB 1492 by Dunn, which would have required that healthcare providers get permission from patients before sending medical information overseas.

Democratic lawmakers and labor unions had lobbied hard for the bills, saying Schwarzenegger had accepted at least $3.7 million in campaign contributions from firms that shipped jobs overseas to cut costs.

In a veto message on the port air-pollution measure, Schwarzenegger wrote that the bill, AB 2042 by Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), "will not reduce pollution in any way."

"We need to focus our scarce resources on substantive, prompt action that will make real progress toward our shared air quality goals," wrote the governor, who campaigned on a promise to cut California's air pollution in half by 2010.

Lowenthal said he was disappointed but would persist.

"More people are going to die," he said. "More kids are going to develop diminished lung capacity. More kids are going to get asthma, and all we're going to do is talk."

Lowenthal called his bill a response to increasing public concerns about port pollution, particularly diesel fumes, a probable carcinogen.

The Los Angeles-Long Beach ports account for 24% of diesel emissions in the region. Cargo moving through the facilities is expected to quadruple by 2025.

Complaints from residents prompted Long Beach port commissioners Wednesday to rethink plans for expanding Pier J, citing health concerns.

More public outcry is expected today as officials resume talks on how to expand the Long Beach Freeway, the main truck conduit between the ports and inland areas.

The Lowenthal bill would have required the ports to work with local and state air regulators to stabilize pollution at 2004 levels or below. If they could not reach agreement, the ports would have been allowed to develop emission baselines, to be approved by local regulators.

The bill did not require the ports to follow specific anti-pollution measures.

Interest in the bill mounted among local residents in recent weeks after publication of a USC study showing that children in the Los Angeles area, including Long Beach, suffered permanent loss of lung capacity function in communities with dirty air.

A separate study by a USC epidemiologist found an unexplained increase in certain cancer rates downwind of the ports and the Long Beach Freeway.

The bill was strongly opposed by the Port of Long Beach, the California Chamber of Commerce and other business groups. They predicted the measure would discourage port growth and harm the economy.

"The bill imposes growth restrictions that will limit imports and exports, causing price increases for California consumers and cost increases for California exporters," opponents wrote in a Sept. 3 letter to Schwarzenegger.

Most port pollution comes from mobile sources such as ships and trucks, and the ports have no power to control them, opponents of the bill said.

Moreover, the bill would have given oversight to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, when such authority should be left to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the state Air Resources Board, opponents said.

Some critics said the bill would have unfairly punished the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex and sent business to other West Coast ports, boosting pollution there.

Supporters had argued that Los Angeles and Long Beach must be singled out, because they handled 70% of the West Coast's container trade last year and generated the most air pollution

"To say this bill would not reduce pollution when it would take steps to stop pollution from growing — that's just misleading," said Tim Carmichael, president of the Coalition for Clean Air, a statewide group that championed the measure.

"The bottom-line reason why it was vetoed is that there was a lot of pressure from industry," he said.

Schwarzenegger also weighed in on animal bills Wednesday, signing two measures that had been held up for ridicule as the type of "silly bills" the governor has said should be eliminated:

• He approved bans on the force-feeding of ducks and geese to fatten their livers for foie gras, making California the only state to have such a law. Passionately opposed by chefs, the bill was championed by animal rights activists, who enlisted Sen. John Burton (D-San Francisco) as sponsor of SB 1520.

Schwarzenegger noted that the ban — which also would prohibit the sale of pate made through force-feeding — does not kick in for another 7 1/2 years to give producers time to "perfect a humane way for a duck to consume grain to increase the size of its liver through natural processes."

"If agricultural producers are successful in this endeavor," he wrote, "the ban on foie gras sales and production in California will not occur."

• He also approved legislation, AB 1857 by Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood), making it a crime to declaw exotic cats or native wild cats — a category that includes tigers, cougars, leopards, lynxes, bobcats, cheetahs and jaguars.

• He rejected a bill to allow ferrets to be kept as pets, even while saying: "I love ferrets. I co-starred with a ferret in 'Kindergarten Cop.' " He said the state needed more extensive study of the issues involved in the keeping of the animals. Vetoed was SB 89 by Sen. Dede Alpert (D-San Diego).

Schwarzenegger also moved to untangle California's maze of "categorical" programs for schools, by which lawmakers designate about $12 billion a year to special education classes, class-size reduction, low-income students and more than 100 other needs. He signed AB 825 by Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh (D-Los Angeles), which consolidates 22 such programs into six block grants.

"Maybe most importantly, it reverses a generation worth of increasing micro-management from Sacramento," said Bob Blattner, vice president of School Services of California, a consulting and lobbying firm that represents school districts.

In other action:

• California will devote as much as $1 billion over several years to 2,400 low-performing schools under a package of bills Schwarzenegger signed that carry out an August settlement between the state and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU had sued in May 2000, alleging the state failed to provide tens of thousands of poor students such educational basics as qualified teachers, working restrooms and up-to-date textbooks.

• The governor signed a bill, AB 2572 by Assemblywoman Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), to force Sacramento, Modesto and several other Central Valley cities to use water meters like those long commonplace in Southern California.

• Schwarzenegger signed a bill, AB 2901 by Assemblywoman Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), to require cellphone makers to take back their used products.

"It will give consumers a way to recycle their used cellphones so they don't end up in landfills," said the Sierra Club's Magavern.

• The governor signed AB 1009 by Pavley, a bill with widespread support that requires trucks entering California from Mexico to meet national emissions standards.

Times staff writers Schoch reported from Los Angeles and Vogel from Sacramento. Staff writer Jordan Rau contributed to this report.

3,238 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·

Cruise ships to plug in to reduce pollution
Using dock power is part of regional plan

(No Author Listed with this article)

Air pollution caused by cruise ships docking in Seattle is expected to be reduced by one-third by plugging Princess Cruises' ships into dockside electrical outlets instead of powering the ships by running their diesel engines, officials said yesterday.
Gov. Gary Locke, Mayor Greg Nickels and others gathered at the port to praise the cruise line's action -- part of a program to reduce diesel emissions in Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska and British Columbia.
"Reducing diesel emissions will decrease the incidents of asthma and improve overall air quality," said Ron Kreizenbeck, acting regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency in Seattle, in a prepared statement.
"Efforts like today's cruise ship electrification project will combine with others to provide cleaner air from San Diego to Seattle," he said.
The cruise line's costs for retrofitting the Diamond Princess and the Sapphire Princess to use electricity are expected to total $3.3 million.
It's part of a wide-ranging program of voluntary measures to reduce West Coast diesel pollution that officials hope will total $100 million over five years.
The measures announced yesterday are expected to cost $6 million, with most of the money coming from the federal government.
Environmentalists who have pushed hard for the air pollution reductions at Terminal 30 praised the move, but also questioned the tone of the announcement.
"Princess did a great thing, they committed to do a great thing," said Fred Felleman of Ocean Advocates.
"They agreed to meet a requirement above and beyond the legal minimum."
The port still must find ways to get rid of additional air pollution it promised to control when Terminal 30 was converted for cruise-ship use, Felleman said.
He suggested that something be done to control pollution from the Holland America line, Princess' sister company, also owned by Carnival Corp.
Both companies promised when the dock was converted for their use to burn low-polluting fuel with a reduced sulfur content.
But they dropped those plans, saying the low-pollution fuels turned out to have a low flash point, meaning the possibility was too great that they could explode close to thousands of passengers.
The West Coast initiative targets sources of diesel pollution bombarding the region, including long-haul trucks to cargo ships pulling into port, not to mention locomotives, farm equipment and earth-moving construction equipment.
When fully funded at the goal of $100 million, EPA officials estimated the program could remove roughly 8,000 tons of particulate pollutants and save more than $2 billion in associated health care costs.
Tiny soot particles found in diesel exhaust have been linked to lung and other types of cancer and account for thousands of premature deaths in the United States each year as well as increased cases of asthma and other respiratory ailments, according to the American Lung Association.
"We're very mindful of the fact that thousands of people die from diesel pollution each year," said Terry Tamminen, secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency.
New regulations are aimed at cutting diesel pollution nationwide, beginning in 2007, and the EPA said it hoped the voluntary program would speed those goals.
Bonnie Holmes-Gen, a lobbyist for the American Lung Association in California, said the money was helpful but added that she thinks it falls far short of what is needed.
"They should set the bar a lot higher," Holmes-Gen said. "We have a need for $2 to $3 billion over the next five to 10 years in California alone."
1 - 2 of 2 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.