Long Beach City Council voted on their 2015 Federal Legislative Agenda
“The proof of the pudding is when these things get covered. They can ‘blah, blah, blah” (talk) all they want but it is when they get it covered [the coal and petcoke rail cars] that we can see they did something. It takes all these back and forth for things to get done. You see politics going all around you. It is a lot of unneeded energy. This is something we need to have but we need their help [LB City Council].” – Linda Kamara-Kay’s reflections on the process of passing the Federal Legislative Agenda 2015 (Long Beach Resident & EYCEJ member)
Community Organizers Jan Victor Andasan and Taylor Thomas report back on Long Beach City Council that took place Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 and their vote on approving the 2015 Federal Legislative Agenda:
Tuesday night, Long Beach City Council voted on their 2015 Federal Legislative Agenda which included covering the coal and petcoke rail cars. The inclusion of this issue on the 2015 Long Beach Federal Legislative agenda is the follow-up from the hearing that happened Summer 2014 regarding if it was okay for these coal and petcoke rail cars to traverse into our city and ports. While these coal carts are allowed to go in and out of our city and port, a major concern that was brought to the attention of council was the fact that they were uncovered and polluting not only the city of Long Beach but all the cities the rail cars traveled through. Although they approved the coal and petcoke rail cars transport, a suggestion was made to find ways to minimize the environmental impact of these coal carts by having them covered.
The agenda was passed with a vote of 6-2. The 2 votes “No” was not necessarily around the coal and petcoke issue but rather the larger agenda itself. There are more than 100 issues in this Federal Legislative Agenda ranging from affordable housing to immigrant issues and even the marijuana industry. It is a major step for the entire city council to agree on one singular document they will pushing on the federal level.
While this is a win for the community in getting Long Beach City Council to find ways to cover the coal and petcoke rail cars, we as community members must continue to hold them accountable throughout the year in their efforts in DC around the uncovered coal and petcoke issue as well as larger environmental justice issues. These may be small strides for environmental justice in the Long Beach community but it is a step in right direction in holding our elected officials accountable in protecting our right to safe & healthy environment. We need them not only to commit on paper or agendas but to real, concrete action! –Jan Victor Andasan, EYCEJ Community Organizer
Tuesday evening, the Long Beach City Council was set to vote on approving the 2015 Federal Legislative Agenda. This agenda contained many different elements, from medical marijuana to affordable housing. Most relevant to our work involved language surrounding measures to cover rail cars that carried petroleum coke products through Long Beach. Some council members expressed a need for more information before approving the agenda in its entirety. As a resident and organizer, I fully support this idea. Too often, legislation or measures are passed without being given proper consideration. This in turn creates half-baked policies that are detrimental to communities. We will continue to follow this agenda, and support a community-based and research driven outcome. -Taylor Thomas, EYCEJ Community Organizer