Thursday, November 18, 2010

City Council Passes Clean Ports Resolution!

The New York City Council passed Resolution 414 this week, which is a major step toward implementation and enforcement of innovative environmental solutions for truck pollution related to the ports of New York and New Jersey (paraphrased from the NYC Council description, found here)

Our area's Council Member Brad Lander was a key player in introducing this Resolution and getting it passed. The Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association (COWNA) has also presented testimony in support of it at the related Council hearings and events. The Coalition for Healthy Ports, of which COWNA is a part of, released the following press release yesterday in response:


NYC Joins Mayors, Port Authorities and 150 Organizations Nationwide Urging Congress to Pass the Clean Ports Act of 2010

New York, NY – A coalition of truck drivers and environmental, community and labor groups are praising the New York City Council today for adopting Resolution 414 which urges the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to implement an environmentally sustainable, economically sound clean truck program modeled after the Port of Los Angeles, and further calls on Congress to pass the Clean Ports Act of 2010.

"This resolution is a strong message to the federal government that our ports are places we need to be able to improve environmental and labor standards,” said the resolution’s champion Councilman Brad Lander from Brooklyn. “There is a clear need for an expanded clean truck program in the New York and New Jersey ports so that we can have good jobs, a cleaner environment and healthier neighborhoods.

“The Teamsters Joint Council 16 is proud to join City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Council Member Brad Lander in this nation-wide effort for a cleaner, greener and more economically just port trucking industry,” said George Miranda, member of the Coalition for Healthy Ports and President of the Teamsters Joint Council 16. “Both Speaker Quinn and Council Member Lander understand just how critical these reforms are to the safety of our communities, the health of our children, the economic independence of these drivers, and the overall competitiveness of our ports.”

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey has faced criticism from environmental, public health and labor advocates for taking limited steps to replace a mere 8 percent of the old, dirty fleet of 7,000 trucks starting this January. Low-income truck drivers and taxpayers must pay the multi-million dollar price tag, rather than the powerful industry that profits from port trade.

At issue is the controversial profit-maximizing strategy that has dominated port trucking in the three decades since deregulation, in which trucking companies and their giant retail shipper clients transport imported goods via a contracted driver workforce who own and operate their own rigs. Individual drivers – labeled “independent” by the firms they haul for and impoverished according to several credible studies – must assume all costs and liability associated with port hauling.

The Port of Los Angeles sought to upend what officials there called the industry’s “caveman economics.” Environmentalists endorsed this approach because the model requires companies to directly employ their drivers as the logical means to shift financial and legal accountability for clean truck replacement and maintenance onto real companies with the capital to afford it. Labor advocates who have long asserted port drivers are independent in name only vigorously supported the LA Clean Truck Program, to facilitate an end to worker misclassification.

“In less than two years the LA plan has put more than 8,500 new, clean trucks into service at the ports and reduced diesel emissions by 80%,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre from UPROSE, an environmental justice organization in Brooklyn. “Truck drivers and port adjacent communities like Sunset Park here in Brooklyn are desperate for an LA-style clean truck program. I’m grateful that today the New York City Council recognized that urgency.

In the New York metropolitan region the Clean Air Task Force estimates that diesel-soaked air will lead to 1,400 preventable, premature deaths, almost 3,000 non-fatal heart attacks and nearly 50,000 asthma attacks this year alone. Dirty port trucks are a major contributor to his public health crisis.

The New York City Council’s action is a powerful endorsement of a national effort to modernize federal transportation law. In July, Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced the Clean Ports Act of 2010 to make it clear that local port agencies possess the authority to implement strict environmental and operational standards to protect public health and spur green growth.

New York City now joins the ranks of other port cities and more than 145 organizations across the country calling on Congress to pass the Clean Ports Act. Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Cory Booker have also endorsed the Los Angeles Clean Truck Program and Mr. Nadler’s legislation.

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The Coalition for Healthy Ports is a partnership of environmental, public health, community, labor and faith organizations that promote sustainable economic development at the ports of New York and New Jersey. We are working to make the port trucking system a less polluting, more competitive generator of good quality jobs. We are a member of the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports, a national coalition of 145 organizations.

1 comment:

Adam A said...

Good - now let's do something about the ships that contribute 90% of the sulfur emissions from the Ports of NY and NJ and pollution equivalent to 7.8 million cars!