Palin Fights Against Environmental Justice in California

The LA Times reported last week that Governor Palin has been working against California SB 974, which would implement per-container charges to fund air quality and goods movement measures in the Los Angeles and Bay areas.  I think it’s a pretty base move (though not that surprising) for the Governor of Alaska to seek to dissuade Californian officials from addressing some of Southern California’s most crippling problems.  The pollution, health, and safety problems caused by the ports is a case of environmental injustice.

The LA Times notes that:

Fully 15% of the nation’s international container trade travels along the 710 en route to rail yards east of Los Angeles, warehouses in the Inland Empire and importers nationwide.

Environmental justice communities near the ports and along freeway corridors should not have to bear the unmitigated harms of the nation’s cargo needs.

Today’s strategies of goods movement in Southern California, especially through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, are dangerous and inefficient.  Traffic congestion on local freeways, particularly the 5, 10, 15, 60, and 710 is significantly worsened by truck traffic from the ports.  Truck traffic from the ports creates safety hazards for drivers; an example is a seven vehicle fatal crash on the 710 last year.  As shown by last week’s train crash, Southern California railroads may also need to consider better and safer ways to move rail cargo on tracks that are increasingly being used for heavy commuter rail traffic.  Additionally, the pollution emanating from the ports leads to disproportionate health problems in lower income communities of color; the Times article above explains that literally thousands of Californians die each year as a result of pollutant emissions from the ports.

The bill (full text available here) recognizes that:

(b) The operation of the ports and trains, ships, and trucks that move cargo containers to and from the ports cause air pollution that requires mitigation.
(c) The improvement of goods movement infrastructure would benefit the owners of container cargo moving through the ports by allowing the owners of the cargo to move container cargo more efficiently and reliably, and to move more cargo through those ports.
(d) It is vital to the movement of goods in California, especially
in southern California, to resolve the road and rail conflicts of locomotives carrying container cargo and automobile traffic by
building grade separations. This infrastructure will reduce air
pollution and provide benefits to the owners of container cargo by
mitigating rail expansion. Without these grade separations, the rail
expansion may not happen, and California could lose valuable goods movement jobs.
(e) The reduction of goods movement air pollution would benefit
the owners of container cargo moving through the ports by contributing to the achievement or maintenance of federal air quality standards, which will allow for continued federal funding of goods movement infrastructure projects.
(f) The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the Port of Oakland operate in unique communities, environments, and markets that require infrastructure improvements and air pollution reduction measures tailored to the nature and degree of need in each port of each community.

Governor Palin’s argument against the bill completely disregards the public health, environmental justice, traffic congestion, safety, and environmental concerns of California.

It Wasn't Me

Even though I was still in Southern California when this bus was stolen, I promise I had nothing to do with it.

Earthquake!

A earthquake hit Sourthern California today, measuring 5.4 on the Richter Scale.  I think it’s a pretty big deal – today was probably the only time Chino Hills will ever be mentioned by the BBC.

Angels Sweep

From the OC Register:

“They had the momentum there in the eighth and we haven’t been doing that,” Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said of Sunday’s winning rally. “They get the big hit and keep adding on.

“They put that damn monkey on the board and the place went nuts.”

I wish I could have seen one of these games live.  Hopefully there will be some redemption in the playoffs for the Angels this year.  They haven’t beaten the Red Sox in any of their nine postseason games since the 1986 ALCS.

Jersey Fugitive Captured

The crazy Jersey arsonist accused murderer fugitive was captured last night.  On Dudley Street in Roxbury, near where I work.  Time to send him back to the Dirty Jerz…

Eviction Blockade

Eviction Blockade

Yesterday, I went to a Post-Foreclosure Eviction Blockade that was hosted by ACE’s partner City Life/Vida Urbana. We succeeded in forcing Countrywide/Bank of America to back down from evicting a woman who was willing to pay rent. The Boston Globe covered the protest and put together a good video in which you can see some of ACE’s interns and staff.

Everett Blaze

Smoke from a scrapyard fire in Everett

There was a large fire at an Everett scrapyard on Sunday.  I saw the smoke plume driving back from Middlesex Fells and figured it must have been pretty bad.  Luckily nobody was hurt.

SEPTA, the T, and Mattapan AC

Mattapan Trolley

So the Mattapan Trolley AC broke on its opening day.  Though through personal correspondance with the Lone Rider, I learned that some passengers got to ride the air conditioned car during its testing the day before.  I’m not sure who this post at SEPTA Watch disses more, the MBTA or SEPTA:

This week the air conditioned trolleys were set to debut.

But the unveiling was put on hold, after the trolley’s air conditioning unit stopped working as the trolley approached from Mattapan…

And another transit agency learns the hard way about relying on SEPTA as your inspiration.