June 14, 2011
Two recent studies put a giant spotlight on the high levels of toxic air pollutants and the rate of children hospitalized for asthma in communities near the Port of Seattle. And now the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council are slamming Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani for “greenwashing” – pretending to be an environmental leader while actively lobbying against federal legislation that would give him and other ports the authority to set clean truck standards.
What’s particularly galling to environmental and community leaders is that Yoshitani – the highest paid port official in the country – had promised to make the Port of Seattle “the cleanest, greenest, most energy-efficient port in the U.S.” But Yoshitani’s actions speak louder than his words.
When it came to clean trucks Yoshitani “went from ‘Love to do but can’t,’ to actively trying to stop that loophole from getting closed,” said Brady Montz from the Seattle chapter of the Sierra Club.
Yoshitani convinced the American Association of Port Authorities to fight efforts in Congress that would give the nation’s ports clear authority to establish effective clean truck programs. In contrast, port leaders in New York, Los Angeles, Oakland and elsewhere, have supported the change in federal law, believing it is a key element to fixing the public health crisis caused by port trucking. He even bucked Seattle’s Mayor and City Council who support federal legislation.
What’s more, as the CEO of the Port of Seattle Yoshitani launched an ad campaign boasting, “Fee free. NOW. No clean truck fees … and collaborating with our customers to keep it that way,”
“You should be ashamed of those ads,” said David Pettit a lawyer with the National Resources Defense Council. “What those ads do is mock Los Angeles for our environmental program. They say, bring your (dirty trucks) to Seattle.”
In fact, a number of port truckers in Seattle purchased trucks from drivers in California after they had been banned from the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland because they were too old and too dirty to be in compliance with clean truck programs there.
“I’d rather drive a clean truck,” said Andiy Gidey a Seattle port driver that purchased a truck from California. “But I can’t afford anything better on my low wages. The trucking companies can afford better, but they won’t spend a dime on clean trucks until the port requires it.”