Port breaks the law again with China Shipping SEIR

The Port of Los Angeles broke the law with its most recent plans to mitigate damage from the China Shipping Terminal, a judge ruled June 27. Judge Timothy Taylor ordered the Port and City of LA to ‘cancel SEIR’s August 2020 certification [supplemental environmental impact report]which involved replacement mitigation measures for 11 measures from the 2008 RIE that were never implemented.

“The port violated the CEQA [the California Environmental Quality Act] in several ways by certifying the SEIR in August 2020,” Judge Taylor wrote. Basically, “the critical assumption underlying the SEIR environmental analysis – that China Shipping would agree to amend its lease in 2019 to require mitigation measures – is completely without merit”, which in turn ” renders even watered-down port mitigations unworkable.”

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The port was justified in eliminating some measures as unworkable, but not others, it also ruled, and it declined to pursue a specific remedy. “The court cannot order the port to perform its obligations under the CEQA in any particular manner,” he wrote.

Owners represented by the Natural Resources Defense Counsel (NRDC) filed China Shipping’s original lawsuit in 2001 when the port approved the project without any EIR. They won their appeal in 2003, leading to the 2008 EIR. This lawsuit was notable because the owners and activist organizations were joined by state and regional air pollution control agencies – CARB (California Air Resources Board) and AQMD (South Coast Air Quality Management District) – as well as by the Attorney General.

“The strong words of this judge’s ruling underscored the port’s repeated failures to comply with environmental laws or respect the health impacts on residents of their industrial expansion,” said Janet Gunter, one of three activists local authorities who conducted the original trial.

“This decision is a victory for communities adjacent to the Port of Los Angeles,” said CARB Chair Liane Randolph. “The Port of Los Angeles must finally demand that China Shipping put in place the required measures it has flouted and take action to reduce the air pollution it produces that harms residents. of several AB 617 communities.” Assembly Bill 617 requires specific emissions reduction protections for environmental justice communities, including Wilmington, Carson and West Long Beach.

“The judge understood the port’s history of wrongdoing in this case and I think his ruling took that into account,” said NRDC lead attorney David Pettit. News about random lengths.

“This is another in a long line of court decisions finding that the port violated laws designed to protect public health and the environment,” said Joe Lyou, president and CEO of the Coalition for Clean Air, another community complainant represented by the NRDC. “It says a lot about their continued priority of money over the health of their neighbours. It’s time for the city and the port to make the systemic changes necessary to begin making the health and well-being of Wilmington and San Pedro residents a higher priority than maximizing profits,” he said. -he declares.

“The port has a 20-year record of breaking the law with this project, including granting secret and illegal waivers of environmental protections to China Shipping. It took place at the highest levels of the port, possibly in the mayor’s office,” said Peter Warren of San Pedro and the Peninsula Homeowners Coalition. “The port has shown that it cannot be trusted to follow the CEQA or to report honestly and transparently on compliance with mitigation measures without independent oversight. This legal victory is a step on the road to justice and accountability. As the court notes, the port allows it and China prioritizes its profits over “compliance with California environmental law and the health of port workers and residents.” This must stop.

While the judge warned in his ruling that “this court is only a temporary first stop on the journey to appellate review,” Pettit wasn’t so sure that would happen, and the port himself- even declined to comment. “While the Port of Los Angeles is not commenting on pending litigation, the Port is evaluating its options in response to the Court’s decision,” Port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said by email.

In addition to the central decision quashing the SEIR, the judge also ruled on each enforcement action where the adequacy of the port analysis was challenged, upholding some and invalidating others. For example, the port has attempted to weaken its AMP (shore power) requirement from 100% to 95% compliance, arguing that “some third-party vessels may not be equipped to use AMP, certain ‘situations’ can prevent an MPA-capable vessel from using MPA, and 100% compliance has never occurred”, as the judge summed up. But “these conclusions are not supported by substantial evidence” , he wrote, going on to explain how the original measure provided for and permitted precisely such difficulties. “The measure was unlawfully amended in violation of the CEQA”, he concluded.

On the other hand, a similar reduction in compliance for vessel speed reduction (12 knots within 40 nautical miles of Point Fermin) was found to be “supported by substantial evidence” and confirmed. Perhaps most seriously, the court upheld the elimination of the trucking measure requiring a phased transition from diesel trucks to LNG trucks, and the failure to adopt a replacement measure. As noted in the AQMD brief, this is in stark contrast to the port’s own 2035 timeline for the 100% phase-in of zero-emissions technologies.

All of these could be challenged on appeal, but it could be months before it’s clear if there will be any. If there isn’t, it’s also unclear what happens next, especially with a new mayor and harbor commission coming in a few months. When that happens, “there might be a different approach to it,” Pettit noted.

But Gunter was less optimistic.

“Our plaintiff’s celebratory mood regarding this second court victory is tempered by the results of our first court victory,” she said. “If the port has proven anything, it’s just not to be trusted.”