The sweet smell of roses …

Nowadays California relies on imports for 10% of its gasoline and diesel and for 25% of its jet fuel. It wasn’t until 1998 that the state became a net importer of fuels, a situation that has since required the ports of LA and Long Beach to become key storage areas for fuels shipped in from outside the state. At about the same time it began to be obvious to some that the growing reliance on cargo containers could create some space problems. But it’s obvious to everyone now. The numbers of cars, trucks and drivers increased at a steady rate over the years, and without a corresponding increase in refining capacity the demand for gas and diesel required supplies to be shipped in from other states and foreign countries. The storage facilities for these imported fuels at the ports, however, are now being squeezed by the ever-increasing numbers of cargo containers, and another unforeseen crisis is about to be imposed on California motorists.

We lived in Southern California during the gasoline shortage in the late 70s, but that travail was a picnic compared to the impending nightmare. There were gas lines, you’ll recall, and vehicles were serviced on alternating days, depending on the odd or even numbers on number plates. But the gasoline was available. Diesel, by the way, was as plentiful as water, and there were no lines at the diesel pumps and no calendar day restrictions. It was a picnic.

So now you get the picture. More vehicles, more drivers, insufficient refining capacity and soon-to-be insufficient port storage for imported fuels, and a recipe for disaster is taking shape. And speaking of disasters, if a New Orleans-type of an event visits the state it may take a lifetime to stop the bleeding. Preventive measures … that’s the ticket. Build more refineries? Forget it. The amount of time required, the amount of funding, and the EPA would be insurmountable obstacles. Get rid of the vehicles? Get rid of the people? Impossible. Increase the amount of storage capacity within the ports? Of course. It’s the only possible way to prepare for the creeping but inevitable fuel shortage. Now we’re getting somewhere. But with the container squeeze, how will the space be found for these storage tanks?

The Port of Los Angeles Harbor Commission has taken on its most ambitious project yet: “slashing pollution from one of the dirtiest industrial sites in the country — the Port of Los Angeles — by perhaps 80 percent or more, and soon”. That’s the expressed goal of Mr. David Freeman, the Commission’s new President … and don’t doubt him for a moment. Throw this effort into the equation and the correct answer will eventually be to place a cap on the growth of the Southern California ports and allow for the development of smaller ports on the West Coast. Everyone will come up smelling like roses. Cleaner air, a healthier climate, more employment, less highway congestion, no wasteful taxpayer funding for replacement bridges and widened highways, and much greater financial returns to port authorities and to state and local governments.

But what could make all of this possible? Our patented space-saving, non-polluting, mobile, storage, retrieval and delivery system would require about one-tenth the amount of acreage the ports are now using. Hundreds of acres could then be set aside for the needed tank farm. Simple.