Last night, there was a hearing at the Port of Long Beach about the Port's decision to settle the American Trucking Association case on terms that I think are so weak that they are a setback to clean air and public health.
Before the hearing, there was a demonstration outside the Port building by community members, truck drivers, clergy and others. Here is some video of the demonstration. Below is a photo taken at the demonstration by NRDC lawyer Morgan Wyenn.
Harbor Commissioner Mario Cordero spoke against the Port staff recommendation to change the Port's governing law (the "tariff") to make it consistent with the settlement agreement. You can watch the entire hearing here (click on the November 16 video link). But let me ask you to pay special attention to what Commissioner Cordero says beginning at about 2:32 on the video. I found it very moving. I'll conclude here with a rough transcript of what he said - his words are more powerful than anything I could say about them.
"Because my prediction is that in 10-15 years, it may well be that people who sit at this table and around this staff may believe that having all electric tugs, trucks will be a must in this city and in this region. So the question I have to counsel here preliminarily, the agreement essentially for us to do that, we need to have the ATA consent to that agreement or to that change? And that's another question again, however you argue on this, ultimately again the question is not just for the port of Long Beach, New York, New Jersey, Oakland, Los Angeles, you can go on and on, it's time that port authorities make that decision, not subject to consultation with an agency or public interest group like the ATA, who in my opinion could, did not care one bit what this freeway looked like back in 2003 and 2004. . . . .
"For me personally, I have another observation. You don't have to be a harbor commissioner, a staff director, a truck driver or LMC. Look who's driving the trucks. Ultimately that is a social issue here. Not to say that we're here to address environmental justice programs or issues. There may be an argument regarding the aspect of all this. But let us not lose sight, who's driving the trucks. I cannot lose sight of that because that's where I came from. I came from an immigrant family. And I came from a hard working labor father, a father who was a laborer. And all of us sit around here, especially on this side of the podium and around the desk, I suggest that we've all done better than our parents. These truck drivers remind me of the strife of the immigrant. And how that relates to the environment? Again, I'll ask you, look at the emissions back in 2003 and 2001. The average truck year, according to John Husing, was 1986. We had as many 1973 trucks as we did 2003 trucks in 2005 and ultimately you cannot, per this agreement, hold that driver responsible because that driver does not have, does not capitalize and does not have the means to address this. So it's fine and dandy to say we're going to prohibit a truck, which is another name for prohibiting a driver, because he's not leasing a truck, he or she. Yes, you could do that, and then the LMC or the broker will just find another driver to take his or her shoes. And I think we need to step back and look at what the real issue is. It's not what this country is about. And I'm certainly a product of a family that fought, fought hard, worked there and the opportunity was there. And I want that same opportunity to be given to people who are in the truck industry, the kind of industry that we had before, in the 1980s."