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Groups blast Governor Newsom, California Air Resources Board for rolling back life-saving, in-port public health regulations implemented 16 years ago

Governor Newsom, despite his climate leadership on land, has capitulated to industry polluters that poison the air for millions of Californians and that far surpasses those impacts of heavy duty trucks or trains in California: the shipping industry. The Newsom administration and the California Air Resources Board just announced a roll-back for at-berth regulations, allowing shipping companies to go back to regulations set 16 years ago that require ships to plug in while idling at ports. The At-Berth regulations would protect the health of port communities and countless communities downwind of the ports while reducing climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

“We live in the Diesel Death Zone around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Ship pollution kills and causes chronic illness, and is especially toxic to children, seniors and those with chronic disease. The free ride for this deadly industry should stop, now,” said Peter M. Warren of the San Pedro & Peninsula Homeowners Coalition. “This delay puts the profits of shippers over the health of millions in Southern California. The pollution reduction from the at-berth rule would cut cancer risk by 55% for people LIVING near the ports in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Richmond. Shipping companies are being allowed to kill us to increase their profits. Ships must plug in when at berth without exception. We were promised relief for decades. CARB and Governor Newsom have failed us again, and broken their multiple pledges to clean the air we breathe.”

In California, ship emissions are the top cancer causing emissions at the port of Oakland, Long Beach and Los Angeles. Long Beach and Los Angeles port-adjacent communities, including West Long Beach, Wilmington, and San Pedro, already experience up to eight years lower life expectancy than the Los Angeles County average. According to the City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, Black Long Beach residents are hospitalized with asthma at eight times the rate of white residents, and Latinx residents at twice the rate of white residents, who live further from the Port. Globally, 265,000 premature deaths were projected for 2020 attributable to global shipping-sourced emissions.

“Governor Newsom and the California Air Resources Board are backsliding on their commitments to protect the health and safety of port communities and meaningfully address the climate crisis,” said Teresa Bui, State Climate Policy Director, Pacific Environment. “Ships are one of the worst air polluters in California – akin on some days to hundreds of thousands of semi-trucks! — and are critical to decarbonize in the fight against the climate crisis. We cannot afford to delay implementation of California’s At-Berth rule.”

The At-Berth rule offers critical protection for port communities, projected to reduce cancer risk by 55% for millions of Californians living near the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Richmond. CARB estimates that between 2021 and 2032, the updated At-Berth policy will save 237 lives, yield $2.31 billion in public health benefits and reduce NOx emissions by 17,5000 tons and carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions by 356,000 metric tons.

“We all have a right to clean air. The governor and CARB must recognize that the shipping industry does not have the right to pollute our air for profit, and it’s already past time to implement these regulations. Richmond is home to six tanker terminals and is in an environmental justice crisis, as 15% of the city’s residents live in poverty and more than 80% are people of color. The cumulative impacts of living in a refinery community create a dangerous air pollution composition that can trigger numerous adverse health outcomes, which explains our unacceptably high rates of asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and low-birthweight babies. Gov. Newsom went all out to get the California legislature to pass an oil profits penalty law. Now he needs to show the same commitment to millions of Californians by supporting immediate implementation of the 2020 At-Berth Regulation,” said Janet Johnson, Co-Coordinator, Sunflower Alliance

California — as the fourth largest economy in the world — is moving in the wrong direction and risking our competitive edge and leadership. 2023 must be the year that our political leaders course correct to keep the hope of 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming alive — not cower to oil and gas industry pressure. Just this week, the European Union (EU) strengthened its in-port shore power mandates, which ironically were modeled on California’s original shore power rules passed by the Schwarzenegger administration. Last week, the EU passed the world’s first mandatory green fuels for shipping law. Ships calling EU ports will now be required to switch to sustainable fuels and at minimum 2% of the shipping fuels will need to come from e-fuels derived from renewable electricity by 2034, which will both reduce climate and air pollution and drive strategic industrial-scale demand for green hydrogen based fuels.

“This misguided rollback of the at-berth rule signals to port communities across California that their health comes second to shipping industry interests. Communities living near our ports breathe in astounding levels of cancer-causing pollution from ships every single day. Now is the time to move forward with stronger regulations to reduce ship pollution, not to backslide on using laws already on the books. With today’s announcement, Governor Newsom and the California Air Resources Board are rescinding their promise to portside communities who have been patiently waiting for this industry to cut health-harming pollution when ships are idling in California’s ports,” said Regina Hsu, Senior Associate Attorney, Earthjustice’s Right to Zero Campaign

“The community of West Oakland is downwind from the Port of Oakland and its ships, trains, trucks and cargo handling equipment. CARB estimates our health risk from diesel pollution at more than 350 excess cancers per million from diesel pollution. Residents over 65 have up to a 41% increase in risk for heart attack, stroke and death due to black carbon from petroleum burning vessels and equipment. Ships contribute up to 60% of our local petroleum pollution. Children in West Oakland are twice as likely to develop asthma than children just a few miles away in the Oakland hills. CARB knows these facts and must act to eliminate ship emissions now. More delay means more illness and pain. West Oakland has waited too long already,” said Brian Beveridge, Co-director West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project

“Although communities near the ports have high rates of cancer and chronic respiratory illness, ship pollution affects communities across Southern California. Record breaking cargo traffic at the port, with this recent delay on At-Berth Regulations will continue to harm residents for generations. The public cannot afford any delays on the At-Berth Rule,” said Yassi Kavezade, Senior Campaign Representative, My Generation, Sierra Club

“This is a huge step back for California’s clean air, the health and safety of people living in port adjacent communities, and for our climate. CARB itself estimated that between 2021 and 2032, the updated at-berth policy would save 237 lives, yield $2.31 billion in public health benefits, reduce NOx emissions by 17,500 tons and carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions by 356,000 metric tons. CARB has a responsibility to protect the public from the harmful effects of air pollution and develop programs and actions to fight climate change. Delaying the implementation of the at-berth rule does the opposite. We urge Governor Newsom and CARB to act now to eliminate ship emissions for the health and safety of port communities, and for our climate,” said Carrie Bonfield, Shipping Emissions Analyst, Ocean Conservancy
Source: Ocean-Going Vessel Regulation

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