Telling the Wrong Story

NRDC’s work to clean up the Port of Long Beach got sucker punched last week in the Wall Street Journal. It was truly a shock to see such a mischaracterization of our work and our motives represented in such a highly regarded paper like the Journal.

Today, I find myself going through the same arguments made more than three months ago when local publications tried to play up the “unholy alliance” link between NRDC and the Teamsters. Earlier this year, we met with local editorial boards and corrected their assumptions about the partnership, but to see a national publication run the same argument in their first piece on the port’s clean trucks plan and play up the same anti-labor sentiments does not reflect the high-caliber journalism expected from the Journal.

No, NRDC is not doing the Teamsters’ bidding by partnering with them to clean up the ports; we’re not opposed to global trade; and we’re not “watching and waiting” to see if the Port of Long Beach screws up their clean trucks plan just so we can sue someone.

In fact, all we want is to clean Southern California’s air.  Surprise!

LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, the Port of LA’s Harbor Commission President David Freeman, Councilwoman Janice Hahn, and numerous environmental justice and clean air advocates support the concession model for port trucking – the model that industry has attacked and we’re ready to defend at both ports. But you wouldn’t know any of that based on the WSJ article. 

The article’s strong pro-industry bias, and its play on anti-labor sentiment, would have been understandable on the WSJ editorial page, but not as a purported news feature. 

The WSJ is a widely respected paper, staffed by top-notch reporters. I consider the Port of Long Beach’s clean trucks plan a matter of life or death for thousands of residents living near the port and my hope is that the Journal’s future coverage reflects the gravity of the situation and the paper’s reputation.