Monday, January 12, 2009

A Contribution of a Post

I welcome post contributions on all of my blogs, except one. My Cavemandairy blog is the blog that I don't share.

This post was created by Mr. Peter Warren, a member of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council.

While Mr. Warren and I do not agree on everything, he and I are both very opposed to having a new cruise ship terminal built in the outer Los Angeles Harbor at Kaiser Point.

Mr. Warren's post provides a more reasons to ponder about the Port of Los Angeles and what might be included in the future.

Here is Mr. Warren's post.
Councils Weigh In on San Pedro Waterfront Plan
Commissioners Need to Hear from Community Before Making Decision
By Peter M. Warren, Chair
Port and Environment Committee

Among San Pedrans, the waterfront project—from bridge to breakwater—has been discussed for a decade and more. Finally, there is agreement among almost all key constituents about how to rebuild San Pedro’s waterfront while sustaining downtown businesses, upgrading cruise ship facilities, improving Ports O’ Call (POC), and reserving the waterfront south of 22nd Street for non-industrial uses.

But there is a real chance that this vision will not happen.

That’s because Port staff is continuing to push its idea to base cruise ships near Cabrillo Beach (see photo) and tear down POC to double its size.

The staff plan is strongly opposed by almost all the business, environment and community leadership in town, as well as the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, and the Coastal and Central neighborhood councils.

These groups want an upgraded, modern cruise terminal adjacent to downtown; a promenade from bridge to breakwater; a rebuilt and slightly expanded Ports O’ Call with a conference center; shared parking structures (not built along the waterfront) that would serve downtown and POC visitors; as well as transit, bike and red car links that tie all these things together.

The final decision will be made by the Board of Harbor Commissioners sometime between now and mid-March. Port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz has urged the public to let the commissioners know what they want along our waterfront.

The CSPNC also asks constituents to make their views known by emailing the harbor commissioners at Bob Henry is the executive officer to the commissioners.

The Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council (CSPNC) has long opposed building a cruise ship terminal at Kaiser Point, where it will dominate Cabrillo Beach and interfere with recreational boating in the Outer Harbor, including access to the West Channel passage to the Cabrillo Marinas.

The Port plan for a cruise terminal near Cabrillo Beach would require more than 600 bus trips daily to transport passengers to and from cruise passenger parking areas near the Vincent Thomas bridge, as well as hundreds of trips daily by support vehicles and trucks.

The chamber of commerce also opposes the idea, believing that building a cruise terminal and berths near the beach will draw tourists away from downtown, harming existing businesses there and at Ports O’ Call. The Port plan also calls for a massive expansion of POC, which the chamber feels is not sustainable and will hinder downtown’s renaissance.

Business, community and environmental leaders are also critical of the port plan because it puts long-term cruise terminal parking along the waterfront and does not provide transit or a red-car link between the waterfront, POC and downtown. The Port’s plan is based on an economic analysis of the cruise industry conducted in 2006, a study now out of touch with current economic developments.

Supporters of the Port plan maintain that without a cruise terminal and berths at Kaiser Point the cruise industry will leave San Pedro, in part because larger cruise ships cannot turn around under the bridge and find it unsafe to back down the channel.

But existing ships regularly back down the Main Channel without tugs. Larger cruise ships coming to the Port beginning in February will, as with current ships, navigate the channel without tugs. Even Director Knatz has testified before the commission that backing down the channel is, at worst, an inconvenience, and that some of the cruise lines prefer the current berthing near downtown to the proposed terminal near Cabrillo Beach.

The plans for the port favored by the chamber and the neighborhood councils include the Sustainable Waterfront Plan and enhanced versions of Alternative Four, which was included in the environmental impact statement written by the Port. Though they have different names, the Sustainable Waterfront Plan and “Alternative Four with enhancements” are virtually the same.

In particular, the sustainable plan is built around four key components in the belief that each component should enhance and sustain the others, and that the combination creates a world-class attraction. The four components are a revived downtown San Pedro, a modern cruise ship terminal near downtown, an enhanced Ports O’ Call, and the vision to reserve the area south of 22nd street for recreation, museums, boating, education, biking, scientific research, and compatible low-key commercial development.

Advocates of the Sustainable Plan point to the state Tidelands Act, which says waterfront should be dedicated not just to industrial and shipping uses, but also to recreation, habitat preservation, swimming and boating.

The plan’s supporters, including CSPNC, argue that the area south of 22nd Street is unique and that the harbor commissioners’ duty is to think of the needs of future generations, not short-term economic gain for one industry. The area south of 22nd Street can be a magnet to draw people to our town, and it will fill a desperate need for recreational space in Los Angeles county.

The right thing to do is preserve this land for use by the millions of people who live within an hours drive of San Pedro; not dedicate it to the cruise ship industry and to those who can afford thousands of dollars for a cruise ship holiday.
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Pier 400 Supertanker Terminal Plans Raise Red Flags in Harbor Community

The Port of Los Angeles has been planning a supertanker terminal on Pier 400. This proposal has inspired protest in the community and among neighborhood council participants. Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council has a committee which oversees port and environmental issues. Committee Chair Peter Warren reports on the latest legal fight.

By Peter M. Warren, Chair
Port and Environment Committee

A harbor area environmental group and several Coastal San Pedro and Wilmington residents are seeking a better deal for the public from the Houston-based company that wants to bring tens of billions of dollars of crude oil into the United States through a supertanker terminal in Los Angeles Harbor.

The group filed an appeal last month regarding the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project, which had been approved in December by the Board of Harbor Commissioners (BHC).

Numerous residents and groups, including the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council (CSPNC), cited significant flaws in the draft EIR when it was presented in May.

The appeal, which was filed by a Wilmington-based organization, A Coalition for A Safe Environment, as well as several CSPNC residents, asks the city council to reconsider the approval.

In its appeal, the group notes that “the project will cause an annual increase of premature deaths and public health problems” for Los Angeles residents.

It also cites numerous failures by the Port of Los Angeles to ensure that the project’s environmental and health impacts be substantially reduced or fully mitigated.

The harbor commissioners in December approved the project without requiring that almost a dozen significant environmental impacts be reduced to a level of insignificance.

Among the areas where unmitigated or significant impacts will be allowed are: air quality, noise, “risk of upset” (explosion), oil spills, recreation, water quality, hazardous materials and biological resources.

The project would be owned and operated by Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline, LP. Under the proposed 30-year lease, Plains would annually dock and unload up to 201 supertankers or very large crude carriers (VLCCs) at Pier 400. Each supertanker would carry about 2.5 million barrels of crude oil.

The supertanker docking facility would be built at berth 408 on the most southwesterly face of Pier 400, which is nearest to Angels Gate, the entrance to L.A. harbor; a mile from Cabrillo Beach.

The project would also include several crude oil tank farms on Piers 300 and 400, as well as pipeline facilities. Construction, including significant pile driving operations, would take up to three years.

One example of lax requirements concerns the failure to require cessation of diesel power by ships which are docked. During the hearing process, residents criticized the Port for failing to require that all supertankers shut down their engines and be plugged into dockside electricity.

This technique, called AMPing (alternative maritime power), significantly reduces pollution from vessels in port. Air pollution from docked ships is reduced 88 to 98 percent by AMPing, according to the EIR.

Diesel emissions have been tied to increased risk for lung cancer, asthma and respiratory disease. A 2005 Air resources Board (ARB) exposure study at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach shows that more than two million people live in areas around the ports and they have an increased cancer risk and a substantial increased health risk due to emissions from docked ocean-going vessels.

From that study and other data, ARB estimates that about 61 premature deaths per year can be attributed to exposure to diesel exhaust generated from ships in port.

Critics say that the Port has not done all it can to reduce pollution through AMPing. Plains says that business realities make it impossible to require that all VLCCs using the terminal have AMP capability because some ships will be making infrequent calls in Los Angeles and there is a limited availability of AMP-capable VLCCs in the world.

As approved by the harbor commissioners, even in the year 2026, fully 60 percent of the supertankers (120 vessels) unloading crude at the new terminal will NOT be required to use AMP while docked in Los Angeles.

Even in the 17th year of operations and beyond, 60 vessels (30 percent, or more than one a week) will not be required to use AMP. Regardless of whether the ships plug in while docked, the supertankers will still run their boilers to offload the crude from the ship because there are no facilities to pump the crude off the ship using dockside power.

Residents and activists, in the effort to clean up the “diesel death zone” around the Port, say that if the Port insists on going ahead without further air quality mitigation, then residents of the immediate area should see some of the financial benefit because the vast majority of negative impacts are concentrated in San Pedro, particularly in the CSPNC area.

One idea being discussed is a residential solar subsidy program paid for by Plains that would create local jobs, build green business and provide a real benefit to local residents.

It would reduce the price of a solar system to about $5,500, making residential solar affordable and providing some financial offset for the additional pollution affecting harbor area residents.

Officials estimate that (depending on the current price of crude) the project will import between $20 billion and $70 billion worth of crude a year. If Plains receives one percent of that as a fee, it will gross between $200 million and $700 million a year.

By one standard calculation, each tanker trip docking at Pier 400 will save the owners of the crude oil at least $2 million per shipment; that is in the reduction in the cost of transferring the crude from Supertankers to smaller vessels offshore, the current method of offloading crude from VLCCs.

Under the residential solar proposal, Plains would set aside $10 million a year to subsidize residential solar for 2000 homes at $5,000 a home.

Currently, a typical solar installation costs about $28,000 with the Department of Water and Power providing a $13,000 subsidy. The federal tax credit of 30 percent would reduce that cost to $10,500, and the Plains subsidy would cut the cost to $5,500. This for a home that spends about $600 a year on electricity.

Considering the substantial profit to Plains, which will become a virtual ATM for crude oil, Plains could afford the plan and also would earn goodwill by providing a benefit to the residents most affected by the increase in pollution and other impacts.

In addition to reducing electric demand from the harbor area, it would stimulate small business, build the solar residential industry, create new jobs and job training at Harbor College for installers.

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