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Antonio Villaraigosa

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Port of LA Shows You Can Be Pro-Jobs and Pro-Environment

Posted: 01/06/12 10:04 AM ET

I recently returned from a trade mission to China, Japan, and South Korea. Of the many conversations I had with business leaders and government officials, one thing was clear: Los Angeles is the premier destination for goods entering the United States from the Pacific Rim.

But the clock is ticking.

We know the folks down in Panama are working hard to widen their canal, and when the widening is done, shippers will have more choice about the destination for their cargo.

We in Los Angeles are making sure that they continue to choose Los Angeles. Our port is a vital economic engine for the region -- additional cargo means additional jobs. So make no mistake: we need to grow our port, especially now.

Since I entered the Mayor's Office in 2005, I have been convinced that the only way to grow the port and create jobs was to go green. January 1, 2012 marked a major milestone of the Clean Truck Program. The program is an integral part of the 2006 Clean Air Action Plan, a sweeping plan aimed at significantly reducing the health risks posed by air pollution from port-related ships, trains, trucks, terminal equipment, and harbor craft.

The trucks at the Port now meet the strictest clean air and safety standards of any major port in the world.

By progressively banning older model trucks, we have slashed the harmful pollutants that cause smog and asthma. Originally, we aimed to cut the port's harmful emissions by half between 2005 and 2010.

We are pleased to report that the plan and the program have exceeded our expectations by reducing sulfur oxide emissions by 76%, diesel particulate matter by 69%, and nitrogen oxides by 50%. Emissions from trucks alone have been reduced by over 80%.

The operation of 9,800 Clean Trucks reduces more than 40 tons of diesel particulate matter -- that's like eliminating the pollution from 300,000 cars per year.

We have truly made a difference and cleaned up the air in this region.

We did this because while the local communities benefited from the Port's economic activity, they also suffered from its pollution.

Cleaning up the air was the right thing to do, but it was also the economically savvy thing to do, too. We've shown that you can add infrastructure and reduce emissions at the same time.

We've put shovels in the ground at the port because we passed six major Environmental Impact Reports since I became mayor. We never could have accomplished this without the Clean Air Action Plan. We've worked together with industry and private partners to ensure that we are growing the Port in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner, and we have laid out a roadmap for sustainable growth.

Over the next five years, we will invest $1.5 billion to provide superior shipping and logistics infrastructure to attract first-class business tenants to the Port.

Ensuring our growth is sustainable is a part of everything we do. We are investing over $100 million in Alternative Maritime Power (AMP), which will allow container and cruise ships to plug into the grid rather than burning dirty diesel generating fuel when berthed at the Port.

We are deepening the port's main channel, guaranteeing 53-foot-deep access, and we are making sure that when goods reach Los Angeles, they will get to market quickly and efficiently.

In most cases we're still going to be the fastest way between point A and point B. We still have the best harbor, the most state-of-the-art facilities, the best rail connectivity, and the most warehouse space near the Port of any of our competitors.

By growing sustainably, we're keeping the Port of LA the number one trade gateway, and truly America's port.

 
 
 

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