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Meeting Delay for Hahn Task Force Stirs Concern

February 10, 2005|Deborah Schoch | Times Staff Writer

A task force formed by Mayor James K. Hahn to reduce port pollution will not meet again until March 2 and 3, reducing the likelihood that Hahn's long-promised pollution-slashing plan will be completed by the March 8 mayoral primary.

The task force had been expected to present a plan to the mayor by last Dec. 31, but the process has been slowed by the time-consuming process of collecting and analyzing information, task force members said. The date was also pushed back because of commissioners' scheduling conflicts, said Arley Baker, the port's director of public affairs.

The new dates, announced Wednesday by the port, immediately prompted concern among community groups because three of their four representatives on the task force cannot attend meetings on those days.

"I have a significant concern that not only is this meeting later than we expected, but there will be very limited community and environmental representation on the task force that day," said task force member Gail Ruderman Feuer, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Told of the timing conflicts, Baker said Wednesday he will confer with the two commissioners who chair the task force.

Hahn pledged in 2001 to hold the line on air pollution from the Port of Los Angeles, but emissions have continued to grow, angering activists near the port and along truck-choked freeways. When port staff members produced a controversial plan last summer, Hahn rejected it and instead assembled a task force with members from regulatory agencies, industry, unions, environmentalists and community groups.

Most of the work is being done by a smaller group made up of experts from the port, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the state Air Resources Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The fast-growing Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex is now the single largest air polluter in the region.

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