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For Immediate Release:
September 30, 2008      

Contact: Tina Andolina

Press Statement by the Planning and Conservation League

Governor Rejects Solution to Port Air Pollution Leaving
Public Health at Risk

(Sacramento, September 30, 2008) – On the last day before the deadline to act on bills before him, the Governor let Californians down when he vetoed the most significant air quality measure for this legislative session. SB 974 (Lowenthal) – The Clean Ports Investment Act, would have raise $300 million a year to fund critical air pollution mitigation efforts and improve freight transportation throughout California.

"We are extremely disappointed that the Governor went back on his word and vetoed the best solution we have to the devastating pollution plaguing communities near the ports and other goods movement corridors," stated Tina Andolina, Legislative Director for the Planning and Conservation League. "The state clearly lacks the funding needed to tackle this air pollution and SB 974 represented our best opportunity to finally address this epidemic."

SB 974 would have collected up to $30 per shipping container processed at California's three large ports-Oakland, Long Beach, and Los Angeles, and reinvests that money into infrastructure improvement projects and air quality mitigation measures. Nearly half of the goods entering the United States come in through these ports. However, the ships, trucks, trains and the cargo equipment needed to get the goods to store shelves are responsible for toxic air pollution. 

Operations at the ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles and Oakland along with related freight transport generate 30% of the statewide emissions of nitrogen oxide (a smog-forming pollutant) and 75% of all diesel particulate matter pollution. These pollutants contribute to increased rates of asthma, respiratory disease, and premature death. In fact, diesel pollution is the worst toxic air contaminant in California, responsible for 70% of the state's air pollution-related cancer risk. 

Approximately 3,700 deaths and 360,000 sick days in California each year are directly linked to toxic emissions from goods movement, and the California Air Resources Board estimates that over the next 14 years, the state will spend an additional $200 billion in health care costs directly related to goods movement pollution. SB 974 would have provided a steady funding stream that could have generated nearly $300 million dollars annually to fund air quality projects and infrastructure improvements.

"The Governor likes to tout his environmental resume. However, when it came time for him to stand with all Californians and stand up to the big corporations polluting our air, he chose not to." said Andolina.

The Planning and Conservation League (PCL) is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit lobbying organization, working in the State Legislature and at the administrative level in state government to enact and implement policies to protect and restore the California environment. PCL has played a key role in efforts to pass SB 974.

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