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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Port Of San Diego, Neighboring Community Striving For Cleaner Air

 May 11, 2021 at 10:09 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The port of San Diego considers a plan today that aims to reduce the amount of pollution Portside businesses put in the air, the draft policy. However, isn't getting a warm reception from community advocates, KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson has details. Speaker 2: 00:18 Sylvia Calzada says it was scary when her doctor first diagnosed her asthma seven years ago, Speaker 3: 00:23 When your, uh, airways shut down and then you can't breathe. That's very difficult. Then, uh, you get a lot of anxiety. Speaker 2: 00:32 Casada has lived in national city for more than two decades and her family roots there run deep. Speaker 3: 00:37 My great-grandmother lived here. My grandmother currently lives here. Speaker 2: 00:42 Cassata remembers living by paint shops and seeing trucks rumbling through her neighborhood Speaker 3: 00:47 In various of our areas where we live, that there was a lot of trucks passing by and we could smell that diesel, you know, popping out and, uh, that affects our, our, our bodies. And then just here in paradise Creek, there were other trucks passing by and that smoke is out there, Speaker 2: 01:05 Sir, easy to find even today, they roll in and out of the ports Marine facility, just about a half mile or so from [inaudible] paradise Creek home [inaudible] works with other community members to push the port to consider the impact on their neighbors. And back in February, the port ordered staff to develop something called maritime, clean air strategy, the port commission chair, Michael Dukette says he wanted more than just a spirited discussion in a board room. Speaker 1: 01:35 What's what's the plan? How are we going to do this? How are we going to transition, uh, in a way that maintains all this economic activity maintains the good but limits or in some cases eliminates the negative impacts on the surrounding communities with respect to clean air Speaker 2: 01:53 Missionary directed staff, to put those ideas into writing. They asked for a policy that had specific measurable goals with clean air targets and the mechanisms to enforce compliance board vice president. Jason Giffen says the challenge lies in balancing two objectives, Speaker 4: 02:09 A focus effort, which is primarily the next generation of how we're going to address cleaning and being a good neighbor. While at the same time, driving for the economy of the port business at the port of San Diego, it is a essentially going to be a policy document that will set the foundation in writing in terms of what will be the ports, initiatives and strategies moving forward. Speaker 2: 02:34 But the resulting draft document got a cool reception from community advocates. The environmental health coalition, Danny Serrano says the staff recommendation falls short of what the port commissioners asked for publicly. He says, there's a lot of good language about environmental justice and clean air. And the document by Speaker 4: 02:52 When you get into the details of the cast goals and objectives, you know, the meats and document, uh, it is clear that is really inadequate and will not significant will not sufficiently alter or change the business as usual environment at the port. Speaker 2: 03:12 Serrano says the port plan needs to be specific about goals, timelines, and how the port will get there. And his organization is pushing for aggressive goals. Serrano says the port needs to electrify its on terminal operations and expand that off terminal Speaker 4: 03:27 Develop a clean trucks program by the end of this year, 2021 with a clear and phased plan and strategies to transition 30%, uh, zero emission vehicles by 2023. And again, a hundred percent by 2030. Speaker 2: 03:43 And the port seems receptive commissioner Michael's a cat says the public concerns have been heard and the port is planning another round of public input. Speaker 4: 03:53 This is an example of a public agency, not just putting a document out for comment, uh, by the public and then doing what they want. Anyway, if this is an example of an agency putting a document out, we got a lot of public comment. We're going to be responsive to the, uh, to that comment. Speaker 2: 04:09 The port is expected to compile the public comments and come back to the commissioners for approval sometime this summer. So Kat says a working plan represents a huge change in port operations, moving forward Speaker 5: 04:22 KPBS environment, reporter Eric Anderson, Eric. Welcome. Thank you. What is it about the draft maritime clean air strategy that environmental health advocates don't lie? Speaker 2: 04:35 Well, I think what they don't like in that, uh, program, that suggestion, that policy is the fact that it doesn't have all the specifics that they were looking for. Uh, they were really pushing hard to get the port to commit to timetables, to commit to, um, uh, goals that were pretty aggressive, you know, even more aggressive than state goals for electrification of some of these, uh, port vehicles or the port moves around a lot of, uh, cargo on its facilities. And right now, uh, most of those, uh, cargo moving trucks are, are diesel powered. So that creates diesel pollution. The port moves a lot of those goods in and out of those same Marine facilities on diesel trucks. And I think what environmental activists were looking at was, uh, something that was a little bit more concrete than the, than the first draft plan that the port will be looking at, um, at its meeting on Tuesday. Speaker 5: 05:36 You know, we've heard for the last several years about the goal of electrifying the terminal at the port of San Diego and the port truck electrification project, how far along have they gotten to that goal? Speaker 2: 05:49 Well, they've, uh, brought in some demonstration projects, they brought in some vehicles to see, you know, what's feasible. And I think that's part of strategy. What they're hoping is, is because they're sort of out in front on this, uh, among, uh, the early adopters that they're hoping to get, uh, tap into some grant money that will make it a little bit more affordable for them to do. Um, it's the customers of the port. I think that moving the, moving the freight or the items out of the port facilities, but which seems to be the big hurdle right now, uh, can you get, uh, trucks that can, that are electric that can drive 220 miles or 300 miles or 500 miles, uh, like a diesel truck. Can, can you kind of make that same cargo hauling capacity, uh, on an electric powered truck as he can on a diesel truck. And I don't think that the industry is quite there just yet, but again, those timetables are, uh, what the environmental advocates, where we're hoping for a really aggressive steps to reaching those zero emission vehicle goals. Speaker 5: 06:58 And when these longer range, uh, electric powered, uh, big hauler trucks come online, how much is that going to cost? Speaker 2: 07:09 Yeah, that's a very good question right now, from what I can tell an electric truck is much more expensive than its diesel counterpart. And I think part of that is due to the fact that they're not mass market or they're not mass made just yet. So you don't get the advantage of an economy of scale. Um, so many of those, uh, electric trucks are, are developed, uh, you know, individually and not on an assembly line. I think once the industry and the demand for that product goes up, uh, and the industry responds by, by developing, uh, manufacturing facilities that are more efficient. Uh, then the price will come down. But again, the port its goal has been to kind of ease that financial burden, where they can by being on the cutting edge and, um, uh, trying to land grants to help cover some of those costs. Speaker 5: 08:04 Now, both the port officials you spoke with in your report, stress, the need to balance environmental concerns with strong economic activity at the port. Is there a concern that reducing pollution at the port could hurt business? Speaker 2: 08:20 Oh sure. I think that's, uh, always been, uh, always been an issue for the poor, you know, they're in the business of, uh, making the Tidelands in San Diego, a resource for the community of San Diego. And that resources kind of realized when there's a lot of economic activity, uh, on those timelines and, and, uh, in the past, I think there hasn't been the corresponding concern about potential impacts of all that economic activity. So now I think the scale is balancing a little bit and starting to see, um, these two goals kind of move forward in conjunction with each other. And I think that's the message that a port commission chair Michael's Dukette and, uh, Jason Giffen, we're trying to give, uh, when they talk to us about this maritime, uh, strategic plan. Speaker 5: 09:15 So today the port commission looks at this maritime clear air strategy draft policy. I'm wondering how can members of the public express their concerns or ideas about the ports, clean air strategy. Speaker 2: 09:29 The port is going to take some of the suggestions that they hear at their meeting, and they're going to offer another chance for the public to comment on this plan. You can probably go to their port web page and find the different ways that you can add comment if that's something that you're interested in doing, but they want to gather more public comments so that when they gather later in the summer, they'll have a better plan. And hopefully a plan that, that everyone agrees is a good step moving forward. Speaker 5: 09:58 And I've been speaking with KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson, Eric. Thank you. Speaker 2: 10:04 Pleasure.

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The Port of San Diego considers a plan Tuesday that aims to reduce the amount of pollution portside businesses put in the air. The draft policy, however, isn’t getting a warm reception from community advocates.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments