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Fee Collection in Ports Signals Accountability, Progress Towards Clean Air
South Bay and Long Beach residents can celebrate another milestone in a collective clean air ports program effort begun in October 2008: The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are collecting environmental fees from polluting cargo trucks doing business in Southern California.
In the ports’ attempt to discourage the use of trucks failing to meet 2007 air pollution standards, haulers will pay a $70 fee to transport cargo each time they enter and exit the ports. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a staunch ports critic, praised the removal of 2,000 trucks 20 years old (and older) from the ports back in October 2008. NRDC estimated diesel particulates emissions fell in and around the ports by 50%.
The positive impact on respiratory health promises to be substantial. According to a Los Angeles Times story, (Feb. 23, “Cleanup at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach begins to pay off”) “1,200 annual premature deaths have been linked to the ports’ air pollution problems.”
“The ports and the I-110 freeway corridor traveled by cargo transporters have critically detrimental air quality to not just the residents in the areas surrounding the Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles, but all of Los Angeles County. Our region has a continuous flux of air movement due largely to maritime air currents forcing toxic particulate matter across the southland,” said Enrique Chiock, president and CEO of BREATHE LA. “The immense changes that have occurred since October may prove to alleviate and curtail chronic respiratory diseases pervasive throughout Los Angeles County and reduce the number of annual premature deaths attributed to the port’s pollution problem.”
With retailers threatening to cease using the ports and lawsuits filed by the American Trucking Association and the Federal Maritime Commission, “the changes these ports are making now could be adopted throughout the country” if the clean air port program survives legal challenges said David Pettit, senior attorney for the resources council.
Roughly 3,000 new clean diesel trucks have joined the fleet since the ports clean air program began. Nearly 17,000 polluting trucks are targeted to permanently be taken off the road by Dec. 31, 2009 according to the Clean Air Action Plan.