Polluting Ports Break Clean Air Promises, Fail to Curb Deadly Pollution

NRDC Reveals Not Enough Action in Ports’ Clean Air Action Plan
LOS ANGELES (September 20, 2007) - The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach get a failing grade for slipping behind in the implementation of their landmark Clean Air Action Plan, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). In November 2006, the ports adopted a joint plan to reduce air pollution from their operations over the course of five years. However, since then they have missed several critical milestones.
“Adopting the plan was admirable, but that was the easy part,” said David Pettit, director of NRDC’s Southern California Air Program. “The implementation is where you show commitment and, unfortunately, the ports are slipping further and further behind.”
Under pressure from environmental and community groups to stop the public health crisis caused by freight pollution, the ports created the Clean Air Action Plan, which set forth a number of deadlines: 
  • The ports committed to adopt, by the first quarter of 2007, an implementation plan for reducing emissions from port trucks. The ports broke that promise.
  • The ports promised to adopt, by spring 2007, “San Pedro Bay Standards,” limits that would commit the ports to reducing air pollution to levels that would help the region attain federal air quality standards. The ports broke that promise.
  • The ports promised to evaluate, by the second quarter of 2007, the use of “tariffs” to require port tenants to use cleaner marine fuels. The ports broke that promise.
  • The ports agreed to bring before their boards, by the third quarter of 2007, any appropriate tariff for adoption. The ports broke that promise.
“Many supported the plan because we believed it was more than just another bureaucratic exercise,” said Adrian Martinez, NRDC project attorney. “We thought the ports were moving away from a business-as-usual approach that compromises people’s health.”
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the single largest fixed-source of air pollution in Southern California. Pollution from the ports is responsible for more than 100 tons per day of smog and cancer-causing nitrogen oxides, more than the daily emissions from all 6 million cars in the region.
“The ports have met some of their targets, but they are failing to achieve several important milestones that will result in a noticeable improvement in the air we breathe,” said Melissa Lin Perrella, NRDC staff attorney. “The ports need to explain how a pattern of inaction and delay will ever lead us to clean air.”