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Port commissioner demands environmental justice
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Port commissioner demands environmental justice

Port commissioner demands environmental justice

Sandy Naranjo, Port of San Diego Commissioner announced plans to reduce pollution in National City’s and nearby communities during the January 18th meeting of the city of National Cities.

The Port board voted last week to eliminate the use of the 10th Avenue cargo crane. This crane is the single largest source of air pollution in the area, Naranjo stated. It will be replaced by an all-electric battery-powered crane system.

The board also voted to purchase a 20 year solar power agreement at the terminal. This agreement is expected to reduce greenhouse gases emissions by 360 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, Naranjo stated. That’s equivalent to a passenger car driving one million miles.

Air emissions don’t know boundaries and travel far and wide. Naranjo stated that eliminating harmful emissions is vital to reducing global climate change.

Naranjo stated that the port will save $3.8million over the 20-year period of the solar agreement. The money can then go to National City or other communities in need within its jurisdiction.

We also had a lively conversation about the heavy-duty and zero-emission truck plans, which are part of the Maritime Clean Air Strategy. Naranjo explained that it outlines how diesel trucks that transport freight to and from port cargo terminals can be replaced by electrical trucks by 2030.

She said that it is likely that the port will also apply for funding through California States Blueprint. This 2022-23 state budget proposal includes funds earmarked to improve environmental justice outcomes.

Naranjo stated that funding for environmental justice is crucial to National City, as well as other communities of color, that were harmed due to the construction of freeways. These freeways have caused a split in our neighborhoods, which has led to increased incidences of asthma, cancer, and other problems.

Naranjo stated that with millions at stake, she recommended that the port establish a Clean Air Strategy Implementation Committee. This committee will track plans and programs as they are developed. It will also provide a dashboard for the public to see how clean air and environmental justice efforts are progressing.

The commissioner also stated that she wants to ensure that contracts for environmental justice programs are awarded only to companies owned by women or minorities, but she did not give any details about what that would look like or how the port could meet that goal.

Naranjo said that a draft of a report was released in December on the port’s impact on cancer risks in National City, and other portside communities. The study was based upon 2019 data and included emissions from ocean-going ships, rail and train operations, and conveyors such as tugs and ferries.

Although there is disagreement about some of the findings, Naranjo stated that the most important outcome was clear: the closer a home is to pollution sources, it increases the risk of developing cancer.

Naranjo explained that reports like the 2019-20 report are written for scientists. She has suggested that future reports be accompanied by a Readers Digest form, which will provide clear and concise information for the general public in English and Spanish.

Naranjo stated that the purpose of the health assessment is to provide information to the community and get feedback from them so that the port can achieve its stated goal for the maritime clean-air strategy, which is health equity.

Naranjo stated that in February, the port would be discussing the use of Maritime Industrial Impact Fund. It is partially funded by revenue from National City’s 10th Avenue terminal.

Naranjo stated that while it isn’t 1% of revenue, it is half of 1%. This is why it was so difficult to secure funding. Naranjo said that credit should be given where credit is due, citing Ron Morrison (City Council Member) as being instrumental in securing the funding.

Morrison stated that the port finally admitted they had a responsibility, something Morrison has been seeking for many decades.

Port commissioner demands environmental justice

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