Ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles Governing Board Approves Updated Clean Air Action Plan

In a joint meeting of the Los Angeles and Long Beach boards of harbor commissioners the two governing bodies voted unanimously to adopt an updated version of the San Pedro Bay Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) Thursday afternoon after hours of deliberation and public comment.

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The vote brings to an end the process that was initiated in 2015 as the twin ports worked to update the plan that was originally adopted in 2006. Since the original CAAP was put into play the port complex, the region’s largest source of pollution, has seen precipitous drops in pollution and greenhouse gasses, but Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia pledged to do more.

Earlier this year the two mayors signed onto an agreement stipulating that the two cities would work together to bring the ports to zero emissions by 2035, a goal that has been projected to carry a price tag of about $14 billion.


 

On Thursday, the two mayors reaffirmed their commitments to meet those goals. Garcetti said that he was proud of what the ports have done over the past ten years in trying to reduce pollution but added “it doesn’t mean it’s good enough”. He also noted that his family has been personally impacted from growing up around highway pollution with multiple members of his family having been diagnosed with cancer.

Garcia said that as a government agency, it is important for the city and the port to ensure that industry thrives, but that it’s equally important to ensure that it doesn’t come at the health costs of those who must live around the industry.

“The one thing I remember [about the previous CAAP discussions in 2006] and the one thing I really appreciate that came out of that discussion is the understanding that you can have both economic success and still have environmental progressive values,” Garcia said. “You can move the ball forward on both issues and both can be successful. It’s something that we’ve learned, something that we have seen at both our ports and something we can continue again.”

The parties crafting the updates to the CAAP had to strike a tough balance between reaching those environmental goals pushed by community groups and residents who bear the burden of living amongst the pollution created by the port and implementing standards and policies that some said could potentially render the ports less competitive.

Getting to zero emissions, and near-zero emissions in the interim, will require the operators at the port to purchase new equipment. The updated CAAP will require terminal equipment to be replaced with the “cleanest available” technology at the time of purchase, which trucks will be prodded by fees that are expected to kick in by 2020.


 

The extent of the fees has yet to be determined, as Port of Long Beach Director of Environmental Planning Heather Tomley said the port will have to undertake a feasibility study to determine an appropriate price to truck operators with the price likely to be announced in 2019.

The fee is meant to bring those trucks not in compliance with the near-zero emissions goal for trucks by 2023 into compliance, however those operators that meet that standard when the fees initiate in 2020 will be exempt.

The bumping up of the fee initiation from 2023 to 2020 was part of a handful of tweaks port staff made to the draft document that was released last week. They came after months of community meetings where residents from Long Beach and other surrounding cities demanded that the timeline be moved up and that language relating to near-zero goals be removed and that zero-emissions be the standards.

Those calls continued Thursday.

“I’m glad to see that there has been so much done to CAAP in the many years but in my past experiences there’s always something more that can be done,” said a Harbor City resident who identified himself as Mitchell. “Near zero alternatives are available now and we are also dying now, so why wait?”

The community also called for the ports not to wait for the California Air Resources Board to set the standard for near-zero emissions before implementing the same at the port, rather they called for the ports to make their own policy specific to LA and Long Beach.

Updating the CAAP does leave open opportunities for public comment as the process moves forward and the port’s periodic feasibility studies seek to determine which technologies are appropriate as the industry continues to evolve over the next 17 years of the policy, which can also change over time.

The document creates a CAAP Implementation Stakeholder Advisory Group made up of public and private experts to provide input on implementing new strategies, according to officials. Those meetings will be open to the public.

“Collaboration will be critical to our success,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Lou Anne Bynum in a statement. “Moving the needle to zero requires all of us — the ports, industry, regulatory agencies, environmental groups and our communities — to pool our energy, expertise and resources.”



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