Container-Fee Bill Awaiting Governor's Signature

The California Senate passed a bill that would add a $60 fee to every 40-foot container passing through the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland.

The Senate’s approval on Aug. 5 follows similar action taken July 16 by the state Assembly on SB 974, which is known as the Port Investment Bill.

The bill now heads to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk to be signed. However, the governor said he would not be signing any new bills until a new state budget is approved by the Legislature.

California’s fiscal year began July 1, but for weeks, state politicians have been arguing about how to resolve a $15.2 billion deficit in the state budget.

The container-fee bill, sponsored by state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D–Long Beach), would generate about $400 million a year to improve the freight rail system and work on projects to reduce air pollution around the ports.

On Oct. 1, a $70-per-40-foot container fee goes into effect at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to pay for the new Clean Trucks Program, a $2 billion plan to finance new freight trucks and get rid of the old ones used by the more than 16,000 truck drivers who call at the largest port complex in the United States. —Deborah Belgum