Group Wants Companies To Pay For Port Pollution Clean-Up
Nov. 14 - KGO (KGO) -- A coalition of groups is rallying behind a new study that says companies that ship goods through California can afford to pay to clean up the resulting pollution. They're calling it a matter of environmental justice.
The 15 million containers that move through the port of Oakland now are expected to triple by the year 2020. Residents who live nearby hope that doesn't mean their health issues will grow as well.
Margaret Gordon, West Oakland resident: "I hope this is not one of the legacies for West Oakland. That in the next ten years this (a face mask) will be part of your daily dress."
The biggest problem is diesel emissions which are blamed for a host of health problems from asthma to cancer. The port of Oakland was forced to start cleaning it up about eight years ago when neighbors sued. Now they look for pollution-free alternatives.
Harold Jones, port of Oakland: "That's a whole new approach and that's the direction we're taking the port in now, and it is in response to the health issues that have been raised."
The California Air Resources Board plans to commit $10 billion dollars over the next 14 years to clean up diesel emissions.
Voters approved a billion dollars for reducing port pollution with Measure 1B. But a coalition of environmental groups says there's not enough money. The Pacific Institute says its study proves the companies using the port can afford to pay to clean it up.
Meena Palaniappan, Pacific Institute: "And so that's what we're addressing here. How are we going to fund those measures? Who can pay, and who should pay to clean up freight transport."
The governor vetoed a bill earlier this year that would have added a $30 dollar fee on each cargo container shipped through the state.
Meena Palaniappan, Pacific Institute: "The veto of the container fee bill sent a message to these companies that you don't need to pay for California infrastructure."
The Pacific Maritime Shipping Association strongly opposed the fee calling it an illegal cargo tax, adding shippers already pay "$800 million dollars a year in true user fees to the ports."
And any effort to impose such a fee would likely result in a lawsuit.
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