The South Coast Air Quality Management District is filing a lawsuit to challenge the city’s approval of the environmental reports on the China Shipping Container Terminal at the Port of Los Angeles.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act by removing actions to reduce air pollution that were previously approved in a 2008 environmental report that China Shipping has since refused to implement.

“We are extremely disappointed that the port did not at least require clean-fuel or electric trucks, even though its own Clean Air Action Plan calls for 100% zero-emission trucks operating at the port by 2035,” said Wayne Nastri, the South Coast AQMD executive officer. “China Shipping has made it clear that they have no interest in implementing actions to reduce air pollution and protect surrounding communities and should not be allowed to continue operation until they do so.”

The lawsuit states that the new environmental report includes weakened and unenforceable measures and will lead to significantly more emissions, including the release of half a ton more nitrogen oxides per day than in the previous report.

The new report also removed a requirement for the terminal to use clean-fuel drayage trucks and relaxed pollution-reducing measures for cargo-handling equipment and ship visits, the AQMD stated.

China Shipping has stated it will not implement even the new weakened measures, the AQMD alleged.

“The Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report has been approved by the Los Angeles Harbor Commission and certified by the Los Angeles City Council,” port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said. “More litigation means more delays in our efforts to usher in one of the cleanest non-automated container facilities in the world, one that clears the way to introduce cleaner equipment while preserving good-paying jobs. We look forward to presenting our case.”

Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, said staff are reviewing the lawsuit and they have no further comment at this time.

According to the environmental report, by the year 2023 — the deadline for the Los Angeles region to attain the federal ozone standard — China Shipping will emit more than four tons per day of nitrogen oxides, the AQMD stated.

That’s more than is emitted by a large refinery Wednesday and equal to about a third of the emissions allowed in 2023 by the 250 largest industrial sources in the AQMD jurisdiction, the district stated.

AQMD maintains that nitrogen oxides are the key cause of greenhouse gas emissions in the Los Angeles area and must be reduced dramatically to meet federal clean air standards.

The AQMD’s lawsuit asks for the court to override the latest environmental report and the port’s lease with China Shipping and recognize mitigation measures have not yet been incorporated into the company’s lease.

China Shipping is located in the Port of Los Angeles and handled 17% of the port’s 9.7 million cargo-unit volume in 2019. Its current lease from the Port expires in 2045.

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