The port supply chain community is pushing back against a proposal to reduce air pollution they say could force some businesses to shutter or leave the state entirely.
The California Air Resources Board approved a resolution last month to establish new standards to lower air pollution, particularly around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which might be done by placing “facility caps” on warehouses, rail yards, and distribution centers.
“What facilities caps really do is incentivize businesses to move to neighboring states,” said Weston LaBar, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association.
The air board resolution directs staff to outline new regulations to be written into official policy, which is to be voted on by the board within 18 months. If approved, it would become part of the State Implementation Plan, a federally mandated program that the Environmental Protection Agency must sign off on as well.
“We’re looking at all indirect sources of pollution at the ports,” said Karen Magliano, chief of the Air Quality Planning and Science Division at the board. “This includes ships, cargo-handling equipment, warehouses.”
This isn’t the first time cargo movement industries have clashed with air quality regulators this year. Their outcry led the South Coast Air Quality Management District, a regional office of the Air Resources Board, to loosen a similar resolution about a month ago.
Most of the cargo that moves in and out of the ports goes by truck and short-rail train, often to warehouses and rail yards in the Inland Empire and surrounding areas, where it’s then picked up by long-distance trains and trucks for cross-country delivery.
But LaBar said the new restrictions could change that, encouraging the extension of short-rail lines into Nevada and Arizona, leaving out Southern California freight movers altogether.
“Not only are those states a few hours away, it’s cheaper to build facilities there, wages are lower, and quality of life is higher,” LaBar said. “Businesses will not be able to cope if facility cap restrictions are put in place, and we will most likely see some close down if this resolution becomes law.”
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