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Partnerships for Change
NRDC has worked with many community-based organizations to defend people's right to a safe and healthy environment.

from Katrina
Fighting for Green Space Cleaning Up Anacostia
Shielding Children from Pesticide Exposure Improving
Air Quality
in an Urban Neighborhood
Protecting Children From Rat Poisons Forcing Nuclear Waste Clean-up

Improving Air Quality in an Urban Neighborhood
Los Angeles, 2001 - present day

Photo of water testing on the Anacostia
On June 21, 2004, the China Shipping Line container-ship terminal -- where docked ships use clean, electric "dockside power" instead of dirty diesel -- was unveiled. NRDC's Gail Ruderman Feuer stands at right.
© San Pedro and Peninsula Homeowners United

The Challenge: In the working-class Latino neighborhoods of San Pedro and Wilmington, California, residents are continually inundated with noise, traffic and pollution from the Port of Los Angeles. Some live just 500 feet from the port, which with the neighboring Port of Long Beach produces one quarter of the toxic pollution in the Los Angeles area annually. In early 2001, community members discovered a brief item buried in a 10-page public meeting agenda indicating that the Port of Los Angeles intended to consider plans for a new shipping berth. When they investigated further, residents uncovered what was really on the table: a huge new terminal for China Shipping, right in their neighborhood. Concerned about the threat of added pollution, noise, and congestion, they took their objections to the public meeting, but were ignored. The terminal was approved. Outraged, homeowners and other residents formed a coalition to oppose the expansion.

Working Together: The community coalition contacted NRDC for help. One week later, NRDC staff attended a Los Angeles City Council meeting with the hope of persuading the council to reject approval of the port expansion. But, dismissing concerns over the additional pollution burden that the project would impose on thousands of residents in adjacent communities, the City Council approved the expansion. NRDC and San Pedro and Peninsula Homeowners United (representing more than 40,000 community residents) responded by filing lawsuits in state and federal court in an attempt to halt construction. The lawsuits charged the City of Los Angeles and the Army Corps of Engineers, which also approved the scheme, with failing to properly evaluate the environmental impacts of air pollution and increased traffic on nearby communities, in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act.

Today: In 2002, NRDC and its community partners won an injunction ordering the city and port to halt construction of the complex until they had prepared an environmental impact statement. The following year, NRDC helped negotiate a settlement that established a $50 million fund to mitigate environmental impacts of port operation and expansion. The settlement also put into place a number of pollution prevention measures never before implemented at any shipping terminal. "This terminal will be the first to use a significant amount of alternative energy," says NRDC attorney Julie Masters. "All of its yard tractors will use alternative fuel and at least 70 percent of the ships docking there will plug into electric power to run their systems while in port instead of using diesel engines. This will reduce pollution by one ton a day per ship." NRDC is now also part of a task force with the goal of ensuring that, even with any future port expansion, there will be no net increase in pollution from the facility.

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