An Overview

If a “no-growth” policy were to be put into effect at the LA/Long Beach port complex, the five bills proposed by Senator Lowenthal, along with some infrastructure updating, would be sufficient to provide the “shared goals” the governor hopes to achieve. A “no-growth” policy is the farthest thing from anyone’s mind, however, and the problem these ports and the surrounding communities must contend with is the 12% – 18% increase in container volume already in evidence. The five bills are scheduled to be heard by Senate committees on April 3rd and April 4th, and by the time these bills are approved it may indeed be “too little too late”, but at least the good Senator isn’t sitting on his hands. Or wringing them. He seems to be the only one who isn’t running around like a Chicken Little.

SB 760 recommends the imposition of a $ 30 fee per TEU on boxes moving through the LA/Long Beach port complex, and these collected are to be divided by the ports into three equal portions to be used in air quality, transportation infrastructure and security programs.

SB 761 expands existing “truck idling” legislation (AB 2650) which mandates that motor carriers serving Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland terminals be on a “first-come-first-served” appointment system. The new legislation requires that terminals “insure” that trucks are serviced in no more than 60 minutes “barring unavoidable events”. Diverting idling trucks to area freeways or alternate staging areas, including areas within the terminals, or requiring drivers to turn off their engines while waiting to enter the terminal would result in a $ 750 fine.

SB 762 would fund the creation of port congestion and environmental quality districts at the three ports. This legislation is intended to reduce the number of “dirty” trucks serving the terminals and to form a commission to grant motor carriers renewable fee-based permits for their fleets to enter the ports. The issuance of these permits would be based upon factors such as the motor carrier’s “seniority of service” and the age of the truck fleet. Permits would be denied to companies whose fleets consist of an as-yet-unspecified percentage of truck tractors built before 1994. The commission would also determine the number of trucks required to move freight “efficiently”, and the number required to make at least three round-trips daily between any port and a consignee or distribution facility.

SB 763 requires the ports of LA/Long Beach to develop a system that will give priority berthing to ships that use low-sulphur fuels.

SB 764 mandates that the ports of LA/Long Beach identify “baseline levels of emissions from specific sources” and of “specified air pollutants”. Dates for meeting baselines — no later than January 1, 2008 — must then be determined by both ports.

If effective infrastructure updating was underway right now, the above bills would be just what the doctor ordered. [“Effective”, of course, doesn’t refer to projects to be completed in 10 or 15 years. Our retrofitted system is the only one that could be effective and operational within 6 months.]