The Port of Long Beach, together with the neighboring Port of Los Angeles, handles roughly 40 percent of imports into the United States.
Regulators seeking to clean up air pollution moved today to hold the ports of LA and Long Beach responsible for doing their share.
The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles have been working to reduce their pollution as part of a six-year-old Clean Air Action Plan. Up until now that plan has been voluntary. Now, the South Coast Air Quality Management District has decided to use a provision of federal law to change the ports’ voluntary goals into mandatory targets.
So if the ports fall short, the District could impose fines, and environmental groups could sue, under the "backstop" provision to be developed.
Port officials had argued that such a move would have a chilling effect on business in the region. Long Beach's director of environmental programs Bob Kanter told KPCC it would discourage companies from calling at the port:
"When they’re already looking at the two most heavily regulated ports, throwing another layer of regulation is really a bad message to business. And what we’ve already seen is with new opportunities these companies are going elsewhere."
But environmental groups countered that it made no sense not to regulate the ports, which are the source of so much pollution from ships, trucks, and trains. A majority of air district board members agreed with that argument.
They will now hold public hearings before finalizing the new pollution rules for the ports.