December 11, 2020 – SAN DIEGO, CA – Today, the Port of San Diego delayed approval of a massive project for Mitsubishi Cement Corporation (MCC) that would increase air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions by adding up to 8,700 new diesel heavy duty trucks to Portside communities. Demands to require Mitsubishi Corporation to use clean Zero Emission electric trucks that reduce diesel air pollution to protect portside communities from continued exposures to air pollution were heeded.
Environmental Health Coalition, community residents and a growing alliance of local, state and national organizations demanded that the Port of San Diego protect the air quality and health of San Diego residents. The Port has a significant opportunity to demonstrate leadership but staff proposed a zero emission (ZE) strategy that was essentially meaningless. The only requirement is ONE demonstration electric truck, and no other measurable requirements ‘unless and until’ the Port determines that zero emission vehicle (ZEV) trucks are feasible for the project. Criteria for a finding of feasibility is not included in the proposal therefore a requirement for ZEV trucks under this strategy would likely never occur.
Vice Chair Michael Zucchet expressed support for the Mitsubishi project but not at the expense of public health. “MCC is a great addition to the Port except for one thing – the benefits all come at the expense of the community health.” Zucchet made the motion to continue the item until a proposal with specific requirements can be crafted. The motion was approved unanimously.
The impacted communities of Barrio Logan and National City already rank in the top 5% for diesel air pollution in the state. Children’s asthma hospitalization rates are 3 times more than the county average in Barrio Logan and National City where COVID-19 infection rates are disproportionately high. COVID-19 is worse for communities with poor air quality.
COVID 19 is disproportionately affecting Brown, Black and Indigenous communities. In San Diego, Latinos account for about 34% of the population, but more than 60% of the COVID-19 cases, and County data shows a more than double rate of the virus in communities adjacent to the Port.
There is a 15% higher rate of COVID-19 mortality for communities with poor air quality and that are directly impacted from high fossil fuel emissions, like Portside communities with high diesel emissions.
References: Summary of Harvard studies; European Society of Cardiology study
- “It’s time to stop diesel death zones. The Port of San Diego did the right thing – stopping a 200% increase in dirty, deadly diesel trucks.” Diane Takvorian, Executive Director, Environmental Health Coalition
- “More trucks will increase traffic and will worsen the air quality. I have a son with asthma and that worries me a lot.” Margarita Garcia, National City resident
- “As families affected by environmental pollution, we have the right that our kids and that elderly folks have better air quality and stop being predisposed to so many illnesses, just for being people who have lower incomes.” Eva Trapero, Barrio Logan resident
Interviews available: To coordinate interviews, Angelica Estrada at (562) 708-3093 or
Nearly 600 individuals have signed a petition demanding zero emission trucks 29 Organizations have signed onto opposition letter so far, including:
- National Nurses
- United San Diego Coastkeeper
- UNITE HERE Local 30
- Asian Pacific Environmental Network
- Coalition for Clean Air
- Climate Action Campaign
- Communities for a Better Environment
- South Ward Environmental Alliance
- Urban & Environmental Policy Institute | Occidental College
- New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance
- Moving Forward Network
- The Greenlining Institute
- The San Diego LGBT Community Center
- Sierra Club San Diego Chapter
- Sierra Club NCG Conservation Committee
- NAACP North San Diego County
- Environmental and Climate Justice NAACP NSDC
- Environmental Center of San Diego Endangered Habitats League
- Escondido Neighbors United
- Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center
- Barrio Logan MAD
- San Diego Audubon Society
- Sunrise Movement San Diego – Partnership Lead
- Center on Policy Initiatives
- Mothers Out Front
ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH COALITION
Founded in 1980, Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) builds grassroots campaigns to confront the unjust consequences of toxic pollution, discriminatory land use, and climate change. Visit online at http://www.environmentalhealth.org.