SAN FRANCISCO (July 15, 2008) – Staggering amounts of air pollution produced by the ports of Oakland, Long Beach and Los Angeles would be cleaned up under a bill approved 45-23 today by the California Assembly with bipartisan support. SB 974 (Lowenthal) would provide funding for infrastructure and air quality improvements through a $30 fee on containers passing through the three ports, which combined receive and transfer 60 percent of the goods that are distributed throughout the entire United States. The Senate must pass the bill in a final vote of concurrence before sending it to the governor for his signature.
Following is a statement by Victoria Rome, Deputy Director of the California Advocacy Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):
“Today’s vote is an important step toward cleaning up one of the largest remaining sources of diesel air pollution in California. The Senate should give SB 974 its final approval and the governor should sign it into law so people in port communities and port workers can breathe easier.
“Enactment of SB 974 would ensure that those who benefit from the free flow of goods through our state’s largest ports pay a share of the costs to clean up port pollution. Californians have been subsidizing goods movement with both our tax dollars and our health for decades. Freight transport causes 3,700 premature deaths annually and causes more than 6,000 school absences per day. SB 974 would provide funding to clean up the diesel pollution that is harming California’s children while also funding needed upgrades to the infrastructure that serves the ports.”