Long Beach Greens

California State Senate & Assembly Joint Hearing
 Ports & Goods Movement
May 4, 2005

Ports v. People:   Does It have To Be This Way

An Environmental Justice Community Perspective

Jesse N. Marquez - Executive Director 
Coalition For A Safe Environment

jnmarquez @ prodigy.net

Environmental Justice communities are often asked why do we oppose Port growth and doesn’t the Port create badly needed jobs in the community and help our economy.    Our answer is very simple if we the community had been an active partner with the Ports and the future planning of them we may not  be opposing them today and yes we do need jobs.

What has really happened over the past years is that Ports were planned strictly for business with no considerations for their impacts on the local communities or environment.      Billions of dollars have been spent on Ports infrastructure and growth and almost nothing in the redevelopment or mitigation of the bordering Port communities and the goods movement transportation corridor communities.

The Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland are unique because residents live across the street or just a few blocks away and the goods movement transportation corridors are not located in isolated industrial zones but in fact pass through hundreds of cities passing millions of residential homes.     There are numerous public schools and parks near rail road tracks, intermodal facilities and distribution centers.

It is our communities that have to breathe the diesel fuel exhaust from ships, trucks, trains and yard equipment every day.    It is our communities and children that are suffering from an asthma crisis and numerous other health problems.    It is our friends and family members who are dying every day.     This is our reality.   

Yes it is true that our population growth has caused an increase in imports, but it is also true that Walmart, Cosco, Kmart, Disneyland and numerous other companies have dumped US Manufacturers causing hundreds of thousands of US workers to lose their job in order for them to make a higher profit.  When red, white and blue all American Disneyland stopped purchasing US made Mickey Mouse baseball caps in order to purchase cheaper Communist China made caps it did not drop the retail price of the caps to pass on the savings to the consumer.    Disneyland pocketed the extra profit.

Walmart made over $ 1 billion in net profit in 2004.    The Port of Los Angeles makes between $ 400-$600 million in net profit every year.    ConocoPhilips made $ 8.1 billion in 2004 and $ 4.7 billion in net profits in 2003.    If they really want to be a good neighbors, they must invest in the communities where they are located and cause no environmental or public harm.

Communities in the past did not have an opportunity to decide which were the best types of businesses for their communities or technology alternatives.    When a few brave residents, homeowners and environmental activists in the past began to question why alternative technologies were not being implemented and why there was no environmental or public health mitigation they were just ignored. 

But as we all know now, all that has now changed.     The public is now aware of the long term environmental damage and health hazards caused by the Ports, Goods Movement, Retail and Manufacturing Industries.     The public is now aware that there are alternative technologies and the public wants to participate in the greater city and regional planning process.

Are there a solutions?   The answer is yes.    Can we make up for past sins, yes we can.

What will it take to move forward.   Well sometimes to move forward requires us to first assess where we are and to evaluate whether or not we want to move forward at the speed we are being pressured to.

We are told the Ports and Goods Movement Industry is an economic engine, creates one out of seven jobs and generates over $ 200 billion annually in revenues in California.    Yet the public has never seen one third party independent report that is a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis.     How many US manufactures are put out business each year?    What is that cost?    How many US workers lose their jobs to over seas outsourcing each year?    What is that cost?    How much unemployment is being paid out annually?

The Union of Concerned Scientists in their report Sick of Soot, estimated that the public cost of health care due to air pollution in California is $22.5 billion annually.     That study only involved the top five health categories.     Thirty five Californians have died from West Nile Virus, how did that Asian mosquito get here?     Our guess is a container from a Port.     What is the cost of those lives lost and others that were infected and treated?

What about the public health care costs and permanent life time disabilities due to exposure to toxic chemicals in foreign made imported products?     There are thousands of chemicals and tens of thousands of products which have never been assessed for their toxicity and there are no labeling or disclosure requirements.     What is the cost of California agricultural crop damage due to foreign insects?     These are just some of the things that need to be addressed.

What are some of the solutions?     Here are some of our recommendations:

1.    Comprehensive Port & Goods Movement Cost-Benefit Analysis.

2.    Establish an annual $ 500 million environmental mitigation fund, until remediation and restoration of our environment, wetlands, wildlife habitat, air, land and water is completed.

3.    Establish an annual $ 500 million public health mitigation fund, until all public health crisis and health care costs are brought under control.

4.    Establish an annual $ 500 million public and goods movement transportation infrastructure fund, until all needs have been satisfied.   We recommend a statewide underground container transportation system.

5.    Establish an annual $ 100 million community redevelopment mitigation fund, until all port, goods movement transportation corridors, rail yard communities and distribution centers communities have been mitigated.

6.    Establish an annual $ 100 million security, container inspection, decontamination and traffic enforcement fund.

7.    Design all new terminals and renovate existing Port terminals to use automated, destination pre-sort stacking and drop-to-rail technologies.

8.    Purchase all new ships with the BACT (Best Available Pollution Control Technologies) engines.     We know the prices are relatively the same cost because we have talked with engine manufacturers.       Retrofit older ship engines.

9.    Require 70% of all regular visiting ships to use cold ironing for main and auxiliary engines while in Port.

10.  Require the remaining 30% of all ships to use a stack emissions capture technology while in Port.

11.  Require all ships to use low sulfur diesel fuel or marine gasolene.     We know the cost is only $62-$155 per container ( for an 8,600 TEU Ship ) and when distributed equally between the contents it only raises the price of the item by a few pennies.

12.  Require all diesel trucks, trains and equipment to use low sulfur diesel fuel, alternative fuels, bio-diesel fuel or diesel fuel additives which reduce air pollutants.

13.  Require all trains to be electric, solar energy or hydrogen fuel in the Alameda Corridor.

14.  Relocate all off-port container storage facilities away from local communities.

15.  Relocate all major rail yards and intermodal facilities away from community residential areas.

16.  Relocate all off-Port inspection facilities in communities to the Port.

17.  Relocate all hazardous chemicals, fumigation facilities and fuel storage tank facilities that border communities to a safe distance Port designated location.

18.  Do not accept any container cargo destined for out of state.     Over 50% is shipped out of state of California.     Let other states share the burden of the increasing traffic, environmental and public health impacts.     Why should we subsidize them and absorb all the costs.     Let the public vote and decide what is in our best future interests.

19.  Do not expect the public to subsidize the cost of private business expansion or goods movement transportation infrastructure.

20.  Do not expect the public to allow any more environmental destruction or degradation.

21.  Do not expect the public to allow any more public exposure to carcinogenic or toxic chemicals or substances.

22.  Do not expect the public to allow any more public exposure to fire, explosion or safety hazards.

23.  Establish a moratorium on Port expansion until a comprehensive mitigation plan has been established.

 The challenge is for all of us to now sit at the table and address all issues.


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