Los Angeles Community Asks Warren Buffett for Help to Fight Mega Rail Yard

NRDC has been working alongside community, public health, and environmental justice groups to fight a proposal to build a new rail yard in Los Angeles, in a densely populated, minority neighborhood that already suffers from high levels of air pollution.  Read more about the proposal here and here. Rail yards are extremely polluting operations; the trains, trucks, and cargo-handling equipment emit harmful air pollution that significantly increases cancer and other health risks for nearby communities. NRDC recently sued Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and Union Pacific railroads over their 17 rail yard facilities in California due to the toxicity of the air particulate pollution emissions and the harm it causes local residents.

BNSF is proposing to build a new railyard, and while aspects of the proposal include using some greener, cleaner technologies, the proposed railyard would still emit significant levels of air pollution, increasing cancer risks and adding to the already heavy burden of air pollution for nearby residents. 

Some of the community members we have been working with in the fight to oppose the proposed rail yard recently made a video asking Warren Buffett to visit their community. The company proposing the rail yard is BNSF, which is owned by Mr. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.  In the short video, several community members reach out to Mr. Buffett, asking him to learn more about the proposal and how it will harm the nearby community. The community members sent Mr. Buffet their video, and even went to the shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska earlier this month, to ask him to visit their community. 

The video is only a few minutes long, but is really touching and expresses some of the community members’ concerns with the project. They even wrote and recorded a song on the ukulele, because Mr. Buffett has been known to also play the ukulele.

I also invite you to sign a petition to the Port of Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners, asking them to withdraw their draft environmental analysis of the project. The Port released its draft analysis several months ago, and it was full of false assumptions, inaccuracies, and other problems that need to be resolved before the project can move forward. You can read our letter to the port about the problems with the analysis here.

Residents living near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach deserve to live in neighborhoods where they do not have to pay with their health the costs of breathing BNSF’s air pollution. I hope Mr. Buffett takes the community's message to heart, and accepts their invitation to visit the community to learn more.