SACRAMENTO (October 1, 2008) – In a move leaving millions of Californians without a comprehensive solution for combating lethal port-induced air pollution, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed Senate Bill 974 (Lowenthal), a bill that would have generated urgently needed revenue to reduce air pollution and alleviate congestion along port corridors.
Roughly 3,700 Californians die prematurely from air pollution-related illnesses every year. SB 974 would have significantly reduced that pollution by providing funding for clean air programs and infrastructure improvements by establishing a $30 fee per shipping container (20-foot equivalent). Former governors Deukmejian and Davis supported the bill as did all three port cities, and environmental and public health groups. Combined, these ports receive and transfer almost 50 percent of all the goods distributed throughout the United States.
Following is a statement by Victoria Rome, deputy director of NRDC’s California advocacy program:
“It is simply unacceptable that people living near our state’s busiest ports must pay with their health so that the world’s largest retailers can sell bargain basement goods to America. Millions of people live within miles of the ports of Oakland, Los Angeles and Long Beach and today, they will continue to breathe the life-shortening fumes of diesel exhaust. Our state is enacting some of the toughest environmental legislation to combat global warming pollution across the state, but the Governor sent the message that port pollution should simply be dealt with at another time, though in southern California port pollution is killing thousands of people every year. Polluters need to share in the costs of clean up. The Governor’s veto lets them off the hook.”