Lecture Series: Urban Goods Movement

How is the goods movement industry shaping transportation and land use in our region? What are the environmental and economic consequences of goods movement, and what are the implications for pollution and human health, jobs and wages? These questions and more are the subject of our lecture series, which comprises five lectures this winter and spring.

The Urban Goods Movement lecture series is supported by a happy coincidence of circumstances. This year the Harvey Perloff Professorship at the Department of Urban Planning in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs is held by Dr. Genevieve Giuliano, noted urban planner and economist. Dr. Giuliano has excelled at bringing to the field of urban planning a growing understanding of the importance of goods movement and of addressing freight in urban policymaking. At the same time, the Community Scholars program with its accompanying Master’s Comprehensive Project is this year entitled “Goods Movement: The Case of the Los Angeles/Long Beach Ports.” It should be noted that this year, the Community Scholars program is supported by a diverse array of groups: the UCLA Department of Urban Planning, Labor Occupational Safety & Health Program (LOSH), Downtown Labor Center, Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH), the Lewis Center, Institute of Transportation Studies, and Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE). 

Below, we’ve summarized the first two lectures, which took the form of panels. We also have photos to share from the first two lectures.

The third lecture will be given by Dr. Giuliano on April 6, entitled “Spatial Dynamics of the Logistics Industry in California Metropolitan Areas.” The fourth will be given by Dr. Allison Yoh, Director of Transportation Planning at the Port of Long Beach, entitled “Investing in Freight: Creative Funding for Port Infrastructure.” The fifth and final lecture will be given by Hasan Ikhrata, Executive Director of the Southern California Association of Governments.

February 3, UCLA Downtown Labor Center
Health and Environment: The Port as an Air Pollution Source and Existing Mitigation Measures – How Effective are They?

Andrea Hricko – USC Keck School of Medicine, Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center.
David Pettit – Senior Attorney, National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Renee Moilanen – Air Quality Program Manager, Port of Long Beach.
Ying-Ying Meng –Sr. Research Scientist, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Hricko gave an overview of the environmental health impacts of ports and goods movement corridors. She described USC’s research, advocacy and coalition-building work in the surrounding community, notably the landmark Southern California Children’s Health Study that showed better lung size and function and reduced asthma due to drops in regional particulate pollution as a result of stricter air quality regulations. Despite being recognized as a carcinogen in 1998 by California EPA, diesel was only recognized as such by the World Health Organization in 2012, delaying technology development in this area. Other health-related pollution sources from the ports include noise and light. Hricko pointed out that public dollars are being spent on port-expansion projects that really only benefit shipping lines, making their community-based research on truck counts and air quality studies all the more relevant. 

Petit laid out the environmental law and civil rights framework needed for discussion of port-expansion, in particular the proposed Southern California International (SCIG) railyard, which would direct over one million trucks into already highly-impacted residential communities. David argues that the negative externalities, environmental health effects, are not captured by the ports or the proposed SCIG yard and this disproportional harm serves as the basis for NRDC’s lawsuit and involvement with communities surrounding the proposed SCIG site.  NRDC was successful in the early 2000s with a lawsuit against China Shipping that resulted in a phase-out of diesel in one terminal and a requirement for electric plug-in for a minimum percent of ships while in the terminal. China Shipping was recently discovered to be out of compliance, making NRDC’s work far from done.  Both Petit and Hricko suggested that an electric rail or tractor system for direct-on-dock (DOD) to load trucks at the port would eliminate the need for the SCIG yard, though noted that a feasibility study has not been done. While the local Teamsters support NRDC’s legal actions, other labor groups have sided with the port and shipping companies. Fear of technological improvements eliminating jobs is a constant element in port clean-up discussions.

Moilanen gave an historical overview of the Port of Long Beach health risk assessment, prompted by local community pressure and conducted in 2005, that was the foundation for the 2006 Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP). Under CAAP, they were the first port to ban older diesel trucks. They’ve seen drastic reductions in diesel health-risk in the 10-years since implementing the CAAP. But, with ships being the largest source of port-related pollution, Port of Long Beach is setting their aim at influencing international regulations for cleaner fuels and electric docking capacity.  Moilanen emphasized that health-impacts from the port are a failure of land use planning, which is why they are linking the Livable Long Beach Plan with the Sustainable Port Action Plan due for release in April 2016.

Meng discussed the study she leads investigating whether port-related air quality improvement policy interventions implemented in and after 2006 have been sufficient to improve health outcomes within vulnerable populations in California.  They are using regional air quality data and land use regression models to test policy-induced air-pollution reductions on local population health as recorded in Medicaid data by  zip code on asthma, heart disease, and diabetes.  Dr. Meng’s previous work showed an increased risk-ratio for asthma-related emergency room visits when in a high-pollution zip code.

The closing presentation ushered the panel into a discussion with the audience on cost-benefit analysis and externalities imposed on communities by the ports.  A Port of LA representative spoke about his work in Sacramento to develop a statewide Sustainable Freight Strategy that focuses on industry electrification and ultra-low emission vehicles. Attendees left the panel with an understanding of the health impacts, externalities, policy successes and failures, and technological possibilities surrounding operation of ports in Southern California.

February 17, UCLA Downtown Labor Center
Economic Development Meets Environment: Communities, Jobs, Revenues, Cap & Trade Funds

Jeff Rabin – former Project Manager, Luskin Center for Innovation
Ben Russak – Policy Analyst, Liberty Hill Foundation
Christine Houston – Manager of Sustainable Practices, Port of Long Beach
Jon Zerolnick – Research Director, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE).

Rabin provided insights into California’s rapidly-growing greenhouse-gas reduction fund (GGRF) established under AB 1532, commonly referred to as California’s Cap-and-Trade revenue. He described the fixed percentage allocations from the fund into state programs such as the High-Speed Rail, affordable housing and sustainable communities, transit and inner-city rail, low-carbon transit operations, urban forestry, and more. The fund is expected to generate $2.5 billion in revenue in 2016.  Some see this program as driving environmental progress, while others see it as business-as-usual spending.  

Russak built on Rabin’s presentation by discussing community-concerns with Cap-and-Trade such as disproportionate concentration of polluters. Despite a legislative mandate (SB 535) for the GGRF to serve disadvantaged communities (DACs) designated by CalEnviro Screen, the vast majority of GGRF funds are only accessible to public agencies and not the affected communities themselves. Two exceptions are affordable housing projects and urban forestry programs. Russak notes that community engagement is still largely absent from all GGRF-funded projects, spurring his group to propose principles for DAC investments in their 2015 report “Advantaging Communities: Co-Benefits and Community Engagement through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund”.

Houston delivered a unique perspective on port operations, based in her decades-long work in sustainability operations for the Port of Long Beach. She cites electrification as the key to reducing port emissions to healthy levels. Some of the Cap-and-Trade revenue channeled through the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is allowing them to test new technologies. While electrification is promising and the port intends to generate some of its own renewable power, its overall success relies on updating the Southern California grid and the stability of Southern California Edison (SCE). Investor-owned utilities like SCE already generate over 30% of their power from renewables, while public-utilities like Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power (LADWP) have not kept pace with renewables generation and instead purchase offsets for the coal-fired power they purchase from Nevada. Houston praises local-solutions, but warns that we must keep in mind the bigger emissions picture.

Zerolnick participated in development of both the Clean Trucks Program and Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) through his involvement in the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports.  His work has been centralized around truck drivers, and the port-externalities that are borne by them vis-à-vis their status as independent contractors with no pensions, unemployment insurance or other worker protections. Due to the deregulation of the trucking industry, port truck-drivers are responsible for the operations and maintenance of their vehicles.  Thus, expensive new technology mandates must be shouldered by the unrepresented workers, another case of port-externalities affecting communities.

The panel presentations segued into a healthy discussion with students, industry-representatives and community leaders in the audience. Topics like the limitations of electric power; limits imposed on state regulation from U.S. Interstate law and International Maritime law; port and pollution-externalities; and consumer-demand for international goods driving port-expansion were discussed.

Summaries by: Christina Batteate, UCLA Center for Occupational & Environmental Health


2017-10-31T13:11:41+00:00March 24th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|