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Why is eco-conscious California spending millions to support natural gas?

Updated: Jun 8, 2022

A Los Angeles-area air board faces questions over grant spending amid some of the worst air pollution in the US

Illustration by Define Urban for Capital & Main

By Miranda Green for Floodlight

In the course of an hour, more than a hundred big rig trucks chug through the aptly named city of Commerce. The heavily Latino community in Los Angeles intersects Interstate 710 – the main highway that moves cargo shipments from the nearby ports to their final destinations.

Along with the merchandise they deliver – Amazon shipments, produce and Mitsubishis – the trucks emit significant amounts of air pollutants. As do the dozens of cargo ships that cluster outside the ports and the freight trains that transport goods.

California has touted its green reputation worldwide, even though the southern part of the state has some of the worst air pollution in the US, particularly here at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Los Angeles has the worst smog pollution of any city in the country, and the region is still struggling to meet national smog standards from 1997. Transportation has been the biggest hurdle.

Transportation contributes at least 40% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, and as regulators grapple with how best to reduce air pollution in the region, they are pouring millions of dollars into a controversial solution: natural gas.

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