Palin asks Schwarzenegger to Veto Fees Aimed at Cutting Pollution from California Ports

The Los Angeles Times reported September 12, 2008 in an article by Patrick McGreevy, that a day BEFORE Senator John McCain announced Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential pick, she sent a letter to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger urging him to veto California Senate Bill 974.  The Bill, authored by California State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), would implement a $60 per 40-foot cargo container fee when goods are moved through Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland, California ports.  More than 40% of all US commodities are transported through these three ports. 

Seen as an intractable problem which lead to the proposed California Senate Bill 974 - the dirtiest diesel trucks are often owned by drivers who can't afford to replace or even maintain them.

Idling trucks at the Port of Los Angeles polluting the air: Seen as an intractable problem which lead to the proposed California Senate Bill 974 - the dirtiest diesel trucks are often owned by drivers who can't afford to replace or even maintain them.

Revenue generated from the fees is projected to raise approximately $400 million each year with which to combat air pollution through the installation of clean burning truck and train engines, as well as the construction of roadways targeted at reducing traffic gridlock with idling vehicles.  Lowering the effects of air pollution is expected to dramatically reduce the number of Californians who die each year as a direct result of pollution, which studies show to be 3,400 deaths.  That a governor from another state would interfere in the politics of California is shocking, particularly since Alaska has so many unresolved social issues needing the attention of Gov. Sarah Palin.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate for vice president, has urged Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to veto a fee on cargo containers going through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, setting off a wave of criticism from California environmentalists.

Palin’s letter to Schwarzenegger is dated Aug. 28 — one day before presidential candidate and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced that he had picked her as his running mate. The letter argues that both consumers and the economy in California and Alaska would suffer as a result of the fee.

Though the issue might otherwise be viewed as a relatively parochial port matter, Palin’s newfound status as a national political figure has raised the stakes in what state environmentalists consider to be their most important pollution reduction effort this year. They say Palin has no business getting involved in the California issue.

“Why should Gov. Schwarzenegger take into account what out-of-state interests are saying?” said Lisa Warshaw, a spokeswoman for the Coalition for Clean Air. “It’s unfortunate that she is using her popularity to push her agenda on this state.”

The bill’s author, state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), said Palin appears not to appreciate how important the proposal is for the health of Californians.

“She certainly displays a lack of understanding,” Lowenthal said.

Palin’s missive attacks Senate Bill 974, which has been approved by the state Legislature but needs Schwarzenegger’s signature to become law.

Palin said many Alaskan communities lack road access and depend entirely on goods shipped by container, something that has significantly increased in cost in recent years. Many of those containers pass through the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports before arriving in Alaska, and Palin argues that the fee will add even more to the cost of goods shipped to her state.

“This tax makes the situation worse,” Palin wrote. “Similarly, the tax may harm California by driving port business away from its ports.”

Lowenthal said he offered to amend the bill this year to address Palin’s concerns by cutting the fee in half for containers loaded from one ship to another without leaving California ports by rail or truck.

Schwarzenegger’s staff did not agree to the proposed change, the senator said.

On Thursday, with the Palin letter hitting the Internet, Lowenthal invited the Alaskan governor to travel to the Southern California ports to see first-hand why the fee is needed.

“We are losing about 3,400 Californians each year because of pollution,”* Lowenthal said. “No matter what Gov. Palin would like to see happen, the impact is killing Californians. I don’t think Gov. Palin truly understands the impacts going on here.”

John Casey, a spokesman for Lowenthal, added: “Maybe Sarah Palin doesn’t care about Californians.”

* Some studies have shown the annual deaths in California due to pollution to be as high as 3,700.

Palin asks Schwarzenegger to veto fees aimed at cutting pollution at California ports

Up to 24,000 deaths a year in California are linked to air pollution (Los Angeles Times – May 22, 2008)

A container ship sits idle at the Port of Los Angeles. Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who is Alaskas governor, has asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to veto a proposed container fee at California ports, saying it would burden her states shippers, who are already reeling from high fuel prices.

A container ship sits idle at the Port of Los Angeles. Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who is Alaska's governor, has asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to veto a proposed container fee at California ports, saying it would burden her state's shippers, who are already reeling from high fuel prices.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin letter to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger  (PDF file) 

Air pollution & smog over Los Angeles

Air pollution and smog over Los Angeles

Furthermore, Governor Palin had no problem taxing the State of Alaska oil and gas exports, thereby increasing the price spikes consumers in the rest of the US were forced to pay at the pumps.  And since the actual cost to Alaskan consumers would be minimal – a few additional pennies per imported item – the governor’s concerns are both misplaced and hypocritical, as well as showing a complete lack of understanding as to the health crisis due to air pollution faced by the citizens of California. 

Below is the link to the California Environmental Protection Agency / Air Resources Board draft report on the “Methodology for Estimating Premature Deaths Associated with Long-term Exposures to Fine Airborne Particulate Matter in California” dated May 22, 2008. 

California Environmental Protection Agency / Air Resources Board Report (PDF)

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