Dozens of farming and business groups and unions are pleading with the mayors of Los Angeles and Long Beach to oppose a proposed emissions rule that they fear will limit exports and imports through two of the largest U.S. container ports.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District is in the final stages of drafting a rule to cap nitrogen oxide emissions at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The agency has not yet published the emissions caps, but officials have warned they will be severe and shippers say they fear the ports will have to curtail activity in order to comply with them.

“The initial SCAQMD staff proposal essentially establishes volume caps on port activities, which will restrict the delivery of critical imported goods including essential construction, manufacturing, and automobile components, as well as medical supplies and halt the export of California’s manufactured goods and agricultural products to foreign markets,” the groups said in the letter they sent Friday to Los Angles Mayor Karen Bass and Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson.

Groups such as Agriculture Transportation Coalition, Almond Alliance of California, American Bakers Association, American Feed Industry Association, American Pistachio Growers, Dairy Institute of California, California Fresh Fruit Association, U.S. Meat Export Federation, Western Growers and North American Meat Institute are among the many groups asking the mayors to oppose the rule – the Indirect Source Rule for Commercial Marine Ports.

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are particularly important to farmers who need to get their commodities to overseas customers.

“The proposed rule is another example of an obstacle that would make Southern California ports less competitive and drive discretionary cargo to the East and Gulf Coasts,” Joe Schuele, a spokesman for the U.S. Meat Export Federation, tells Agri-Pulse. “This negatively impacts the services available to U.S. meat exporters who rely on West Coast ports to serve Asian markets, as well as destinations in Central and South America. It is especially concerning for exporters shipping chilled product, which has limited shelf life and can only spend so many days on the water.”

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 Los Angeles and Long Beach ports could choose to reduce operations to avoid exceeding air pollution standards under the proposed rule, Ian MacMillan, SCAQMD’s assistant deputy executive officer, said at an Aug. 10 community steering committee meeting.  

“They could just do less emissions-causing activity, so maybe that’s shipping less goods as one option,” he said, but stressed the agency would prefer the ports meet the future standards by using lower-emission technologies.

SCAQMD’s proposed rule, also known as PR 2304, will not be published until September at the earliest, and the agency hopes to approve it by December.

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