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Air Quality

Palin Weighs In Against Pollution Fees for Ports of LA and Long Beach

Port of Los Angeles at Twilight

The issue of whether or not to charge a $60 fee on all containers entering the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to be used to mitigate the pollution caused by shippers has been a contentious one.  Earlier this summer the legislature passed, for the second time, legislation creating the fee however Governor Schwarzenegger has yet to sign the legislation while his office continues to battle the legislature over the budget.

However, an unlikely opponent to the legislation has just made Schwarzenegger's choice even harder.

One day before she was tapped by John McCain to be his running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin wrote Schwarzenegger asking him not to sign the legislation because it would be bad for the economies of Alaska and California.  As the bill's author, Long Beach Senator Alan Lowenthal, notes in the Times, Palin's letter is fascinating for what it doesn't say.

The letter doesn't mention the environmental impact the ports have on the surrounding communities.  It doesn't mention what the funds would be used for.  It doesn't mention the 3,400 Californians killed every year because of pollution.  It focuses only on the impact the increased cost of doing business would have on the people of Alaska without doing any analysis on what that impact would actually be.

In response to the Governor's veto of similar legislation last year, Lowenthal's bill lowered the fee imposed on goods being transferred from one ship to another in half to $30.  Experts estimate that the average impact of the fee on Alaskan consumers would be an increase of ten cents to the average pair of sneakers.

For a pdf. copy of Palin's letter click here.  To read the text, read on after the jump.

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:

I am writing to join Governor Lingle of Hawaii in urging you not to sign Senate Bill 974. This legislation would impose a $30 fee per 20 foot equivalent for shipping containers. (Many shipping containers are 40 feet long, so the fee or tax would double to $60.) As I understand it, the fee would apply to all shipping containers processed through the main ports in California (Long Beach, Los Angeles and Oakland).

I have previously written to Governor Gregoire of Washington in opposition to a similar container tax the Washington Legislature considered in 2007. The Alaska Legislature also passed a resolution opposing that bill. I have enclosed a copy) of that resolution.

Enactment of Senate Bill974 will have negative impacts on both Alaska and California.  For Alaskans, a very large percentage of goods (90 percent or more) shipped to Alaska arrive as marine cargo in a container. Many communities lack road access and depend entirely on the shipment of goods by container. Shipping costs have increased significantly with the rising price of fuel and these higher costs are quickly passed onto Alaskans. This tax makes the situation worse.

Similarly, the tax may harm California by driving port business away from its ports. New  port developments such as the one in Prince Rupert, B.C., Canada, could become attractive to shippers.

I respectfully request due consideralion be given to our state anci that 1,ou nrit sign Senate Bill 974.

Sarah Palin

Photo: Brande Jackson/Flickr

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