Random Lengths News
and port to make the systemic changes necessary to start making the health and welfare of the residents of Wilmington and San Pedro a higher priority than maximizing profits,” he said.
“The port has a 20-year record of flouting the law with this project, including issuing secret and illegal waivers of environmental protections to China Shipping. This took place at the highest levels of the port, perhaps the mayor’s office,” said Peter Warren of San Pedro and Peninsula Homeowners Coalition. “The port has shown that it cannot be trusted to follow CEQA, or to report honestly and transparently on mitigation compliance without independent oversight. This court victory is one step along the pathway to justice and accountability. As the court notes, the port allows and China shipping places priority on its profits ahead of ‘compliance with California environmental law and the health of harbor workers and residents.’ This must stop.”
While the judge warned in his ruling that “this court is only a temporary first port of call on the voyage to appellate review,” Pettit was not so sure that would happen, and the port itself has refused to comment. “While the Port of Los Angeles does not comment on ongoing litigation, the Port is evaluating its options in response to the Court’s ruling,” Port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said via email.
In addition to the central ruling striking down the SEIR, the judge also ruled on each implementation measure where the adequacy of the port’s analysis was challenged, upholding some while striking down others. For example, the port tried to weaken its AMP (shoreside power) requirement from 100% to 95% compliance, arguing that “some third-party vessels may not be equipped to use AMP, certain ‘situations’ may prevent an AMP-capable vessel from utilizing AMP, and 100% compliance has never occurred,” as the judge summarized. But, “These findings are not supported by substantial evidence,” he wrote, going on to explain how the original measure anticipated and allowed for precisely such difficulties. “The measure was unlawfully modified in violation of CEQA,” he concluded.
On the other hand, a similar reduction in compliance for vessel speed reduction (12 knots within 40 nautical miles of Point Fermin) was found to be “supported by substantial evidence” and was upheld. Perhaps most seriously, the court upheld the elimination of the drayage truck measure requiring a phased transition from diesel to LNG trucks, and the failure to adopt a replacement measure. As noted in the AQMD’s brief, this is strikingly at odds with the port’s own timeline of 2035 for 100% phase-in of zeroemission technologies.
All these could be challenged on appeal, but it could be months before it’s clear if there will be any. If there is none, what happens next is also unclear, particularly with a new mayor and new Harbor Commission coming in just a few months. When that happens, “there could be a different approach to this,” Pettit noted.
But Gunter was less optimistic.
“Our plaintiff’s celebratory mood regarding this second court win is tempered by the results of our first court victory,” she said. “If the port has proven anything at all, it is simply that they should not be trusted.”