Port project a national example of environmental justice analysis
The environmental justice analysis done for the Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project was selected recently by the U.S. Department of Transportation as an example of best practices in the new evolving field.
Environmental justice policies are designed to lessen and mitigate adverse health and environmental impacts on minority and low-income populations and to ensure community involvement in the decision-making process during project development.
The $1.2 billion Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project is currently under construction. It combines two older terminals into one state-of-the-art facility that doubles capacity while cutting air pollution in half from previous levels. It is part of the Port’s $4.5 billion capital improvement program to modernize and upgrade Port facilities during the decade, with an emphasis on environmental sustainability.
During the planning phases of Middle Harbor, Port of Long Beach and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff conducted an environmental justice analysis to study the potential for project construction and operations to result in disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on low-income and minority populations. Disproportionately high and adverse impacts to environmental justice communities were related to construction noise, and cumulative impacts to air quality and health risk.
The Port highlighted its Community Mitigation Grant Program, which funds projects to improve air quality in the region overall. The grants ultimately contribute to mitigation of impacts identified in the environmental justice analysis for the Middle Harbor, as well as cumulative impacts from other ongoing port projects and operations. The Port also cited community outreach as an effective method for educating the public early in the process.
“All our projects start with an accurate and honest assessment of their impact on the environment and our community,” said Rick Cameron, the Port’s director of environmental planning. “We are honored that the Department of Transportation has selected our case as a model for the nation to follow.”