Lowenthal drops container fee for now
California State Sen. Alan Lowenthal said he would not seek to reintroduce a container fee on cargo moving through the state's three biggest ports due to the economic recession.
'Am I going to introduce a container fee, even though it's tremendously needed? No,' he told attendees at the National Industrial Transportation League's annual conference in Anaheim, Calif., on Sunday.
Lowenthal said other West Coast ports, including Canada, would use the implementation of such a fee at this time to lure away container traffic from California's ports.
'We're not going to cut off our hands to spite our face,' he said.
He added that 'a container fee doesn't work right now when it's not implemented at a national level.'
Lowenthal has made three previous attempts to implement a $30-per-TEU container fee for cargo passing through the ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles and Oakland. In late September 2008, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed Lowenthal's bill, despite strong support from a large coalition of environmental and pro-growth interests.
Before the economic recession began to seriously dampen container volumes in the California ports, it was estimated that Lowenthal's proposed container fee would generate up to $500 million a year to be split evenly between congestion relief and environmental mitigation.
The Democratic lawmaker, who refers to himself as a long-time community and environmental activist for the Long Beach area, said he plans to continue his efforts to implement a more efficient and cleaner freight transportation infrastructure in Southern California. One way to do this, in place of the container fee for now, will be to encourage more public-private partnerships, he said.
'I still believe the private sector needs to step up and pay its fair share,' Lowenthal said. ' Chris Gillis