Long Beach port gives conditional support to container fee bill
The five-member Port of Long Beach Harbor Commissioners approved a motion Monday supporting state Sen. Alan Lowenthal's bill to impose a fee on containers moving through the state's major ports, albeit with some conditions.
Senate Bill 974, Lowenthal's third attempt at a container fee bill, could generate more than $525 million annually to help pay for road and rail improvements and clean-air programs tied to port trade throughout California. The bill would impose a $30 fee on all containers moving through the Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Oakland ports.
Retailers and ocean carriers strongly oppose the fee, claiming it would shift cargo away from the three ports and drive up prices on consumer goods.
The Long Beach board voted 3-2 to put the port's support behind the measure, with the caveat that the language of the bill be changed to meet three board concerns.
Commissioners want assurances in the bill that any funds collected in Southern California would stay to support Southern California infrastructure and environmental projects.
The board also wants language to be included allowing the funds to pay for roadways projects, such as the Desmond Gerald Bridge replacement, which could eventually cost more than $800 million.
In addition, the port wants SB974 to include language freeing the ports from commitments to meet long-term air quality standards if outside regulatory actions or legal rulings prevent the ports from doing so.
The commissioners plan to meet with city officials and representatives of Lowenthal's office to discuss the port's caveats.