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Issue Position: Port Infrastructure

Issue Position

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Date:
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At the beginning of October, Speaker John Perez appointed me to the Select Committee on Ports. The jurisdiction of this committee is to focus on ports, infrastructure, and trade expansion. California ports support more than a million cargo-related jobs in our communities and countless more through inter-connected industries such as construction and manufacturing. I am honored to join this committee and take a more proactive role in preserving and expanding port infrastructure and trade-based jobs.

The Committee held the first informational hearing since my appointment earlier this week. We met at the Port of Los Angeles, the number one port by container volume and cargo value in the United States. Port Energy: Powering the Future of Goods Movement was the topic and among the presenters were representatives from Los Angeles, San Diego and Oakland ports, along with several others representing transportation, energy and shipping merchants and shipping industries.

Much of the discussion centered on how we can stay competitive with other national and international ports, while balancing the emission and energy requirements set forth in AB 32. Rising energy costs and the mandates that require ports to produce lower emissions have potential to slow growth in this sector. The ports and trade industries in California employ more than one million people. Given our state's fiscal troubles we need to do everything we can to drive this industry.

The effort to run our trade industry on cleaner energy has been making progress. Recently the Port of Long Beach received a $1.34 million EPA grant to deploy cleaner cargo-handling equipment. The Southern California International Gateway is a $500 million, 153-acre facility that, when completed, would drastically reduce the amount of cargo trucks on the 710 freeway. These examples of pushing the industry forward are exactly what needs to continue happening. However, we have to take steps to reduce the burdensome impact that AB 32 has on industry costs.

Not only that, but we must ensure the power supply that the ports are functioning on is a stable and reliable one. When power is lost it brings movement to a screeching halt. It is not merely as simple as flipping the breaker to get things moving again. Equipment and machines need to be reset and safety checks need to be completed. A small outage can be a general disruption but any prolonged period without power can cost millions of dollars to the trade industry as a whole. When we examine how we will meet our future energy needs we must look at reliability as well.

If California does not act now to invest in our ports we will lose trade-related business to ports in other states and other countries. As the 11th largest exporter in the world we must make this a priority. Across the nation states are investing billions to upgrade their infrastructure to attract new trade. The competition will only become fiercer. California must step up to the table and I look forward to working with the committee and ports industry in the coming Legislative session to do just that.


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