Regulation and Response at the San Pedro Bay Ports

The purpose of this research is to analyze responses by the ports and other industry stakeholders to the growing pressures to mitigate the air pollution impacts of port-related trade. Historically the ports have enjoyed significant independence and support from local and state government because of the large economic benefits generated by port-related trade. Public perceptions of port-related trade have changed dramatically since 2000, however, primarily due to growing evidence of health damages associated with particulate emissions, and continued rapid growth in trade volume. Faced with growing public discontent, state and local political leaders have proposed increasingly aggressive mitigation requirements. The ports, terminal operators, steamship lines, and other stakeholders have responded with both resistance and pre-emptive actions. Two explanations are suggested for the changed policy environment. The first is the imperative for social legitimacy: in an era of raised environmental sensibilities, the ports, like other large organizations, conform to changing norms of behavior. The second is the institutional structure of port-related trade, in which outcomes are determined by the relative market power of different stakeholders. Studying responses to the changed environment in the context of organizational motivations and institutional relationships will lead to a greater understanding of the nature of the port-related trade industry and the challenges associated with adapting to increasingly ambitious environmental goals. This research builds on several previous METRANS studies, most importantly one on AB 2650 (04-06), the other on the PierPass program (05-12). We conduct our analysis by 1) documenting the recent history of local and state legislative efforts and stakeholder responses, 2) interviewing industry stakeholders, 3) evaluating specific operational changes intended to mitigate environmental externalities. Results of this research will add to our understanding of the behavior of the port-related trade industry and assist in designing effective policies and incentives for solving environmental problems.