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A cargo ship in Long Beach harbor. The SCIG railyard will enable trucks to transfer cargo onto trains closer to the port.
In a completely unsurprising move, the Long Beach City Council has authorized the city attorney to sue the city of Los Angeles over the Southern California International Gateway.
It’s not surprising because, at hearings over the last several months, lots of folks, including Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, have been asking L.A. to reconsider the $500 million privately-funded railyard proposed for a site along the 710 freeway near Wilmington and West Long Beach.
Foster told L.A. harbor commissioners back in March that BNSF, the project’s sponsor, has been unresponsive to community concerns. “What they really said is…we’re going to wait 'til you sue us before we deal with these concerns," Foster told the harbor commissioners, in unusually public criticism of the port. “This body has done precious little to mitigate the impacts of what we see. I hope that changes."
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California's carbon-credit market has raised $500 million in revenue, which Governor Brown wants to borrow to balance general fund expenses.
Gov. Jerry Brown plans to borrow $500 million from a program to fight climate change, as part of his effort to balance the budget - a move that has stirred up clean air advocates.
California has begun auctioning off carbon emission permits as part of its cap-and-trade program. They're basically licenses to pollute that businesses can buy to offset their emissions. The money -- $500 million collected so far -- goes into the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.
Brown wants to use that money to cover the state's general fund expenses, and pay it back later, with interest. He argues that it's okay to borrow the money because greenhouse gas reduction programs are just getting off the ground.
The Sierra Club, the Greenlining Institute and other environmental groups say the permit fees can only be spent on programs that reduce greenhouse gases.
They argue that some of the money the governor wants to borrow was going to fund clean air programs in low-income and minority neighborhoods near refineries and other sources of pollution.
The governor did sign a law last year meant to protect carbon fees from being diverted for general fund use. But SB 535 doesn't stop him from borrowing the money.
At a March harbor commission meeting, supporters of the Southern California International Gateway project wore orange. Opponents wore white.
Businesses and labor unions working at the ports will square off against community groups Wednesday as the L.A. city council considers approving a $500 million railyard planned near Wilmington.
The Southern California International Gateway planned by the BNSF railway would enable cargo trucks to take shorter trips from dockside to train. The trucks would spew less pollution on a shorter trip, but the project's critics say the new railyard would add a million truck trips and thousands of train trips to the region each year. And that, they say, would cause significant health and environmental damage in the surrounding neighborhoods. Local opponents, including the East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, the Coalition for Clean Air, and the Natural Resources Defense Council want the railyard to be closer to the docks.
A sign posted at a Sacramento apartment complex warns of harmful chemicals on the premises, as required by Prop. 65.
Gov. Jerry Brown has directed the state’s Environmental Protection Agency to work towards reforming Proposition 65, a law passed a quarter-century ago that aims to protect Californians from harmful chemicals.
California EPA Secretary Matt Rodriquez says the reforms will combat “shakedown” lawsuits. Proposition 65 enables private lawyers to bring claims against businesses that knowingly expose the public to toxic chemicals identified under state law. Lawyers have filed such claims more than 2000 times since 2008; critics say in some cases the suits are motivated by a desire to make a quick buck, rather than address a public health threat.
According to Rodriquez, the governor might want to impose a cap on lawyer’s fees in such cases. The governor’s office says state officials, lawmakers, and business interests also will discuss requiring more proof from plaintiffs before lawsuits can go forward, as well as limits on how much money businesses found liable would pay into a settlement fund in lieu of penalties.
Some in Orange County say air regulators should leave beach fire rings alone. They want cities or the county to decide the fate of beach bonfires.
Local air regulators want to ban beach fire rings - and the bonfires that fill them - saying they're unhealthy. But Orange County and some of its cities are fighting the proposal.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District says wood fires release emissions that are harmful to people and the climate.
The city of Newport Beach agrees - it has asked the California Coastal Commission to remove 60 concrete rings on its beach that are used for bonfires.
But elected officials and other bonfire lovers gathered around a fire at Huntington Beach yesterday to protest. They argue that these fire rings attract visitors --and revenue-- to beach towns.
Orange County supervisor Janet Nguyen helped pass a resolution against a fire ring ban. "The message is let the power be in the local hands," she said. "For the county at least, on our beaches, we want to keep those fire pits. But we also do respect other cities and what they want to do."
Robert Kavanaugh, a small business owner in Huntington Beach, wants his daughter to enjoy the beach fires, just as he did growing up. He said he'd go to court to fight a ban. "Some of my oldest and fondest memories are sitting around in beach parks enjoying bonfires," he said. "California has clearly become a nanny state."
Regional air regulators will take up fire rings again in June.