City Council, Environmental Groups Appeal Port of LA’s Support of SCIG


This past Tuesday in a closed session, the City Council unanimously voted 8-0–minus absent 2nd District Councilmember Suja Lowenthal–to file an appeal against the Port of Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioner’s decision to move forward with the 153-acre, $500 million Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) rail project.

In addition to the City Council, three major environmental groups–the East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, the Coalition for Clean Air, and the Natural Resources Defense Council–have also filed an appeal that not only criticizes the Commissioners’ decision this past March 7, but the entirety of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) that was distributed before the approval set forth by the Commissioners.

The crux is that Long Beach remains the only entity in which residents are directly affected by the project headed by rail giant BNSF–residents, mindfully, which are already marginalized and near 710 traffic. The areas of the cities of Los Angeles and Carson which the project also borders are mainly industrialized zones that harbor no residents. Even further, the project proposes no buffers such as expanded greenzones that would separate the residents further from the rail yard and in some areas, is as close as 20 feet to residential homes.

“This project and the corresponding environmental document ignores the tremendous impacts on the residents and businesses in the immediate area, and fails to correct those impacts in any meaningful way,” said Mayor Bob Foster in a press release.

The City’s appeal points out several flaws within the Board’s decision, including the alleged violation of complying with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) since the concerns raised in the public comment period–focusing on everything from noise and air pollution to multiple studies regarding reduced lung function of children, particularly Long Beach children, near heavy trafficways–were not addressed at all in the FEIR.

USC Professor of Clinical Preventative Medicine Andrea Hricko even pointed out, before the Board’s vote, that “reduced lung function” did not appear once in the FEIR. Deficiencies such as these have sparked the resistance to the project, hence the appeals.

In addition, the City of Long Beach alleges that the dislocation of four companies will terminate some 1,500 jobs.

“The SCIG project reeks of environmental racism,” said Angelo Logan of the East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. “The facts are that the local community will suffer more from an increase of air pollution and lose more jobs than will be gained. Our members that live at ground-zero of this project will suffer the brunt of the impacts from this project so that BNSF can expand their operations. The LA Mayor and the port commissioners are not fulfilling their promise of growing and greening the port if this project moves forward. Any project that has environmental justice impacts is not ‘green.'”

Read Streetsblog LA‘s copy of the environmental groups’ appeal below.

Read more:

SCIG Appeal

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food to politics to urban transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 12 nominations and an additional win for Best Political Commentary. Born in Big Bear, he has lived in Long Beach since college. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.