Transcript: Podship Earth Episode 44: TRUCKIN'

JARED BLUMENFELD: Welcome to Podship Earth. This is your host Jared Blumenfeld.  We don't make very much in America anymore and yet we still love to buy everything from sneakers to cameras to jeans to phones to you name it. All these products are made somewhere else and transported in containers across oceans on huge ships, unloaded at ports, put on trucks and trains to distribution centers and then driven to stores or Amazon warehouses and eventually brought to our homes. Today we're going to examine the human health and labor impacts of our craving for cheap products delivered instantaneously. I traveled to the port of Long Beach and Los Angeles, which in reality are one big port complex, to try and figure out what's going on. I meet up with Doctor Joe Lyou, who runs the Coalition for Clean Air, which was founded in 1971 and is focused exclusively on-air quality issues. From creating the idea for California's original smog check program in 1981 to helping pass legislation to put 1 million electric vehicles on California's roads by 2025, Joe's organization has paved the way for socially and environmentally responsible air policies. I start by asking Joe how LA's air is doing. 

DR. JOE LYOU: Well, this summer we had 87 straight days of violations of the federal air quality standards for smog here in the Los Angeles region. I mean, we've been fighting for clean air in Los Angeles for 60 years and we've made a lot of progress, but we're not there yet. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Give us a little example of like how far we've come. 

 

DR. JOE LYOU: Okay, so we have reduced air pollution tremendously just through adopting regulations that control sources such as refineries and power plants. And cars are a lot cleaner than they ever have been, but we have more and more of them in the same time. Our goods movement industry here in Los Angeles has built up and expanded like crazy. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Tell us what the goods movement industry is. 


DR. JOE LYOU: Well, the goods movement industry is the movement of the things that we buy and at our stores online to the places they need to go to get there. So, here in Los Angeles, most of the stuff is coming in from Asia, from China primarily, and it's being distributed through the ports at terminals over to warehouses and then out to retail outlets. And that is the goods movement industry. It's the logistics industry. It's the movement of all these goods and all these things that we bought. The number one source air pollution in California is the goods movement industry. Heavy duty trucks are the number one problem, not only here in Los Angeles, but also in the Central Valley where they have high particulate matter. And it's both related to the goods movement and the movement of goods for these heavy-duty trucks. 
 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So as an advocate, you push for this clean air action plan at the ports. Tell us a little bit about that. 

DR. JOE LYOU: Well, there was a lot of pressure on the ports when it became obvious how they were expanding, and they were really not paying attention to their environmental impacts. And you know, look, the air quality regulators realized they are the number one source of air pollution and we’re never going to get the clean air unless we do something about it. They put pressure mostly because a bunch of advocates got together, and environmental organizations got together and started putting pressure on the ports. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Joe, who does the pollution impact the most? 

DR. JOE LYOU: It's sadly ironic that the people who work some of these low wage jobs actually live in the communities in which the pollution is most impacting. And you know, that happens not only to the workers and to the people who work at the docks and the people who work at the rail yards and the truck drivers who service them, but it also happens to the students and the community members, the elderly, the young, everybody who lives along these traffic corridors, next to these rail yards, right next to the ports at the warehouses and empire. They're all paying a price with her health. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: When you go and visit with communities that are directly impacted by air pollution from all these different sources of goods movement, what is it like? 

DR. JOE LYOU: It's heart wrenching to hear these stories. There are community members who are losing their friends and their neighbors and their family members to cancer, to lung cancer, when they've never even smoked in their life to their kids having asthma attacks ending up in the hospital. And there are trucks going by their kids' schools nonstop all day long and their kids are out there playing in the yard and having to breathe all that air pollution. It's really sad. I mean it's a very sad situation for a lot of these community members and the communities that surround these ports, a lot of them are, I mean quite honestly, low income communities of color, but also transient immigrant communities that don't have a lot of roots in the community and don't have a lot of political power. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Next, I meet with Barb Maynard with the Teamsters Justice for Port Drivers Campaign to learn about how truck has a fighting for both clean trucks and fair wages. Barb, why are the ports so important? 

 

BARB MAYNARD: So, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are really the epicenter of the American economy. You drive through these ports and you see them churning six days a week, almost 24 hours a day. And you know, so much of America relies on imported goods. This is really the epicenter. 40% of the goods imported into the US come here and actually go to every single congressional district in America. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Twenty years ago, there was a big push because of analysis of where air pollution problems were coming from. How did teamsters and the folks that you represent get involved in that?

 

BARB MAYNARD: It really was the nexus of good jobs and clean air that when the teamsters came together with the environmental groups to try to solve these problems because there was tremendous amount of pollution that was harming the communities and the drivers themselves who have to work in these toxic environments. So, there was an effort to come together and try to replace the trucks at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach with clean rigs. And to try to fix the problem that the drivers really couldn't afford to pay for these new trucks, and effectively this is low wage work here at the ports. You know, once upon a time driving a truck was a good middle-class job, but that's not the case anymore. And so, it's been this degradation of that work and at the same time, the degradation of the air quality that brought together which some thought was an unholy alliance. You know, just a really unique sort of coming together of different parties. An extraordinary alliance that led to the first clean truck program and ultimately getting rid of many of the trucks. And so, the teamsters are still here fighting for clean air, but to make sure that the drivers don't have to pay for those trucks themselves because they cannot afford them. And the problem still hasn't been fixed. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I went in search of a drayage truck driver to talk with. Drayage describes the process of transporting shipping containers over short distances, normally from a port to a rail yard or to a warehouse or distribution center to be in the next leg of his journey. I meet out with Fidel Gonzalez Martinez, who has been a port truck driver for 14 years. Fidel, how does your day begin? 

 

FIDEL GONZALEZ MARTINEZ: I start at six o'clock in the morning, 6:30 in the morning, then work nine hours. I'm using a tractor for the company right now and we're going to the port and grab the containers and take them to the customers’ warehouse or railroad station. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: How many times do you do that day? 

 

FIDEL GONZALEZ MARTINEZ: Two round trips a day. Then we have to take empty back to the port. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And what kind of truck do you drive now? 

 

FIDEL GONZALEZ MARTINEZ: C and G is a gas natural. This truck I'm using for four months right now. Before that I was getting into the company Pacific Nine with my own truck, a diesel truck. My old truck, I sell them already. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, how did you first hear about environmental issues relating to truck pollution? 

FIDEL GONZALEZ MARTINEZ: Yeah, actually in 2009, when the clean truck program gets into the port of the Los Angeles in Long Beach, the companies they required in 2009, is beginning the nightmare for many, many of the drivers of the port of the Los Angeles. Because they have to support the family and they have to pay the truck monthly and they have to pay the other expenses. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And did that make you worried for your family, for your job? 

FIDEL GONZALEZ MARTINEZ: We didn't know how it's going to work. The money we took home is getting less because we have the pay for the truck. My friends, they took seven years to pay. But yeah, between that seven years they change the regulation of program they have for trucks and they change them to another bank or institution to give him another rates. So, in these days is almost 10 years. They still pay in the truck, which is supposed to be five years. So that affect a lot of the other people. Yeah. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So how much money would it cost to upgrade an old track or buy a new truck that met the standards, like just give us a sense of how much are we talking?

FIDEL GONZALEZ MARTINEZ: These days is going to be up to $350,000. So that is going to be something maybe impossible for the drivers to maintain those trucks. So that's why we are fighting, we have many strikes and we are still fighting for this. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: When you go into Walmart or Target now, do you feel differently about the products on the shelf? 

FIDEL GONZALEZ MARTINEZ: When I get it into the stores, let's say, I'm going to think about, oh this item is cheaper than this, but the companies pay me less. So, in the other words, if they sell cheaper products, they pay us less money to the people who transport this stuff to the stores. So, at the end of the thing, we are paying all the problems caused by transport. The consumers are happy because it’s cheaper, but we have more problems if we have to take care of the trucks. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: To find out how we can change this dynamic, I meet with Jessica Durrum from the LA Alliance for a New Economy. Jessica, how has this situation gotten so out of control? 

 

JESSICA DURRUM: In many ways this is an invisible workforce, it's a work that people don't think about. You press a button and a box appears on your doorstep or you go to the mall and it's there. People don't think about how these goods get to them. And the trucking industry was deregulated in the whole global economy was restructured. So, all of our goods are coming from outside the United States for the most part. And all of them come through some port of entry and most of them come through these ports, especially for us here in Southern California. And so, I think it is important for people to think about not just the drivers, the warehouse workers, the long-haul drivers, all the men and women who are getting those goods to your doorstep. And you know, what are the conditions, you know, they're working under. What kind of technology are they using? What kind of trucks are they driving? What impact is this having on the environment? 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: How are you trying to change that?

 

JESSICA DURRUM: So, I think it's important to make visible this workforce. It's the big box retailers at the end of the day who are really the ones driving this system. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, I mean right now we could go get fair trade chocolate that showed that the chocolate we got from Sierra Leone didn't have any slave labor involved in it. But if you want to find out if the trucks that delivered your goods are contributing to the worst air quality in the United States, how do you do that as a consumer? 

JESSICA DURRUM: They're not a lot of choices for consumers. I think that's why it's important that we get engaged, we support these workers in their fight. We contact our elected officials to do what they can. We communicate with the stores that we shop, that we want them to have standards and to hold the trucking companies and any subcontractors they employ or are responsible for, for following our laws and for treating their workers with dignity and respect. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Diesel trucks are the number one reason that we're still not attaining federal clean air standards. So how we doing on that? Are we moving the fleet over? Is it changing over? 

JESSICA DURRUM: So, with the passage of the first Clean Truck Program in 2008, the entire fleet at the ports of LA and Long Beach were completely turned over. So, there was about a 90% reduction in diesel emissions. There's currently a new program in play. Part of the challenge is that we still haven't resolved the underlying problem, which is the trucking companies are pushing the costs in these trucks onto the backs of the drivers. So, to get to that zero emissions future, again, we really need the companies to take responsibility for the capital costs and to take responsibility for checking the class of these new clean trucks. Companies need to take responsibility for purchasing in the trucks and maintaining the trucks in the first place. Or if the drivers happen to have their own truck, reimbursing them for their expenses rather than forcing them to pay for everything out of pocket. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Back with Barb Maynard with the Teamsters Justice for Port Drivers Campaign, I ask her what is going to take for drivers to be heard.

BARB MAYNARD: These drivers have gone on strike 16 times in the last five years, continued to file more claims, and they're not quitting. They're not going to stop. That's going to continue to escalate. The other thing that the drivers are continuing to do is they're letting the retailers know that these companies are breaking the law and if they're not careful, then they're going to be held liable. So, we are continued to be focused on cleaning up these ports, making sure that they're healthy and safe for the workers and for the people who live in these communities, but that the drivers don't have to pay for it. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, give an example of a company that you think is breaking the law and what would happen if they treated the truck drivers as employees? 

BARB MAYNARD: There are countless numbers of companies here that are actually breaking the law, but let's just focus for a moment on some of the big ones. XPO Logistics is one of the biggest players here and NFI industries I would say is the other big huge player that is really driving the path, the low road here, and making it difficult for smaller companies who actually want to follow the law to conform with the law because frankly they can't compete. Right? It's very difficult to do that. Pacific Nine transportation did change their model. They brought the drivers in. Some of them are pure employees that drive company trucks. Other are employees who actually brought their own trucks over and they pay them not only for their time but also, they give them a stipend for the truck as well. So, it's a model that clearly can work. There are multiple models that will actually work that conform with the law and that's critical. Every company runs their company differently. That's their absolute right, but what isn't their right is to break the law, what isn't right is to demand that workers pay for the new regulations for clean trucks. That is wrong. It's illegal. It needs to stop. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, really the model, that most people would understand, is like a UPS driver. If we suddenly asked UPS or Fedex or the garbage truck driver to pay for the cleanup of the truck to make sure it conforms with standards, people would be like, that makes no sense at all. That's basically what's happening here. 

BARB MAYNARD: That is exactly what's happening and the real problem with it is that when a governmental agency rules that there should be a new truck, stricter requirements of any kind. If that company, if that obligation is put onto a company, they have the ability to pass on the cost of that to their customers. The drivers don't have a direct relationship with the customer. They don't have any bargaining power. They don't have any ability to say, hey, that new truck is going to add, let's say $500 a month to my operating costs, therefore I'm going to raise my rates charged to Walmart, to Home Depot, to Lowe's because the governmental agencies have changed the rules, right? That's not what happens. And so as a result, those rates have not risen to keep up with the demands of the community for clean trucks and that instead that has pushed down and pushed into a corner, if you will, these drivers who have had to pay all of that out of their own pocket. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: You read a lot about electric vehicles and then immediately after that you read about autonomous vehicles. Like tell us about how you think the industry is going to shape over the next 10 years. 

BARB MAYNARD: The autonomous trucks may work right inside of the harbor where you're moving containers from point A to point B. But here, you're actually having to go through traffic and move through surface streets and there's not an expressway if you will that goes straight from a marine terminal to let's say a Walmart Distribution Center. It just doesn't exist and it's hard to imagine given the Los Angeles and Long Beach Landscape that they could actually construct something like that. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And now back to our episode on trucking. Back with Doctor Joe Lyou, the director of the Coalition for Clean Air, I ask if the cargo ships themselves are part of the pollution problem for Los Angeles area. 

JOE LYOU: So, ships actually are going to be the number one source of air pollution in 2023, when we are supposed to hit one of the major milestones for the Clean Air Act. The ships will get cleaner over time, but the problem is they last forever. So, if you have a dirty ship, it's going to be out in the seas and in your ports for decades. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I have been on one of these ships. I mean the bunker fuel is actually solid and they have to heat it up before they can turn it into fuel. 

JOE LYOU: So bunker fuel is literally the bottom of the barrel. You take a barrel of oil, the crap that is at the bottom of the barrel is the worst thing. You can't even refine it. They throw it into a ship, and you know, it doesn't really matter because they're out in the middle of the ocean. You burn that and you get your ship across the ocean. In the last few years, the International Maritime Organization has adopted emission control areas. A standard for low sulfur fuels near the coast. Those ship fuels are cleaner now that they're closer to the port because of these regulations. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So why will in 2023 these vessels still be such a large contribution to poor air quality? 

JOE LYOU: One of the worst problems we have here in the ports of Los Angeles and ports of Long Beach is that people send us their dirty ships. So, even though there are some cleaner ships in Europe and serving the Mediterranean, we are getting the dirty ones. We're getting the oldest and the dirtiest ships. What we're trying to do is convince them to send us cleaner ships. And then there was a deadline recently for them to start building even cleaner ships. And in order to get around that deadline, they built the hulls of a bunch of older ships so they could put dirty engines in them. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I remember you are pushing really hard to have a near to or a zero-emission port operation that now exist in the Long Beach/ LA port complex. 


JOE LYOU: Well, we have one terminal, the Long Beach Container Terminal, that has gotten as close to zero as any terminal in the entire world and it's incredibly clean. And so, we're proud of that. We're proud of that accomplishment. They went above and beyond the required legal environmental mitigations and we think they set a standard that everybody else should be living up to. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I follow Joe's advice and go and meet with Anthony Otto, the president of the Long Beach Container Terminal, the first fully zero mission cargo terminal in the country. Anthony, tell us how this all began. 

 

ANTHONY OTTO: That's a long story that started back almost 15 years ago. That was right in the middle of a lot of community and environmental opposition to any further port growth. It was a bad time for the ports here in Southern California. It came at a time where we were getting dubbed as the diesel death zone. We somehow went from the star of the economy to the diesel death zone as they said and it came clear that, you know, if the port was going to continue to grow, that they had to clean up their act.  The port of Long Beach wound up cleaning up emissions from our industry in upwards of 85, 90% through the course of the last 10 years. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What sources of emissions were there and what have you've done here to clean them up? 

ANTHONY OTTO: Oh, 15 years ago, the vessels, none of them plugged into shore power. They burnt the dirtiest fuel that exists in the world, burnt their auxiliary engines while they were in port. And along with that, you have the oldest, dirtiest trucks that were coming to and from the port, bringing goods to market within the region. You had dirty locomotives, you had all diesel equipment in the container terminals that were delivering containers all day, all night, a lot of diesel work taking place. And what did we come to? Basically, this facility is fully electrified. It is the first near zero emission container terminal and it is, I can say confidently, that it's the cleanest container terminal, not just in this country but on this planet. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Maybe you could explain what we're seeing right now. 

 

ANTHONY OTTO: It's a lot of 20 and 40-foot containers that are coming and going off of ships all day, every day, 365 days a year. And those containers and the logistics of placing them to and from the ship into the yard, to and from rail cars that are coming and going, and even to trucks that are coming and going through the gate to local market is a nonstop dance of container transportation logistics. The difference here is that we've also been able to fully automate the operation to the greatest extent possible. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So being a leader is kind of tough in some ways because you're out in front. There’s still a lot of dirty container yards here, even in the port of LA in Long Beach. And what's your prediction of how quickly this type of technology, this kind of setup will be adopted by the rest of the industry? 

ANTHONY OTTO: The US is a little behind the curve on this technology. Europe has been doing this for 15 almost 20 years, but for the most part we have been left behind and we have not been able to evolve technologically until just recently. That's what LBCT represents, an evolution towards providing a better service and lower emissions to the goods movement industry. It is light years ahead of anything else here on the west coast. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Cool. Let's go outside. So right here, Anthony, you're checking that the vehicles are road worthy and that they meet the clean air standards. 

ANTHONY OTTO: So, anyone who wants to do business into the port of Long Beach or port of Los Angeles has to be part of that database which is then shared with each of the terminals. And those are the only trucks that we would allow to do business through this facility. And that's how we verify that they are clean trucks. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: These cranes are absolutely massive. I've never seen cranes as big in my life.

 

ANTHONY OTTO: The cranes, to be able to handle not just the biggest ships of today that are on the oceans, but any ships that might be contemplated in the future. Ships have gotten bigger and better. They're actually the largest ship to shore cranes in the United States right now in terms of sheer mass, reach, height. When I started in this business, 3002 to ship was as big as it got and then they slowly made their way to 8,000, everyone could have sworn that's as big as they would ever be. And here they are 22,000 TU, they're floating behemoths. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And in terms of environmental benefits, what are you most proud of? Personally, in terms of what you've been able to accomplish?


ANTHONY OTTO: It came at an incredible cost to achieve what we've done environmentally, but we took it on and now that we're here, I could say, you know, it's one of the proudest things in my life. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: How much did it cost? 

 

ANTHONY OTTO: Well, in construction it was about 1.5 billion, and in equipment technologies, cranes and so on about another 600 million. So, it's an excess of $2 billion to build this facility at full build out. Everybody sees this as progress both from the environmental perspective as well as an advancement in technology and for the goods movement industry. So, it's a win for everyone. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Does it put more pressure on the competitors to achieve your standard? 

 

ANTHONY OTTO: Yeah, I think we were perceived for long time as the troublemakers, but you know, we were willing to do what was necessary to get this project up and running. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I meet back up with doctor Joe Lyou, the director of the Coalition for Clean Air, to ask why, with the exception of the Long Beach Facility I just visited, the US is so far behind other countries when it comes to cleaning up the goods movement system.

 

JOE LYOU: You would hope that we would hold ourselves to a standard higher than everyone else in the world. We're not doing that yet. There are efforts and there are plans and there are demonstration projects and there are small incremental steps that are be taking place every year and getting us there. We're getting closer. I think the vision is there.  The ports recognize that the communities aren't going to let up, that the regulatory agencies aren't going to let up, that they're going to have to get there, but it's going to take some time. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: It seems like a lot of the stuff comes in containers. It's then put on locomotives. They seem pretty old and filthy. 

JOE LYOU: Yeah, well, unfortunately, locomotives are regulated by the federal government. The federal government tends to say, well, if you buy a new locomotive, it has to be clean, and then it takes decades to actually turn the fleet over. Again, we're getting dirty locomotives here. We could have much cleaner locomotives. We have very little authority or capability of forcing them to bring us the clean locomotives. They're a huge source of air pollution and we're trying to deal with it as best we can. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: The communities that live on the rail corridor are often low income and communities of color. 


JOE LYOU: Yes, absolutely. In Long Beach and Los Angeles. There is a port terminal in southeast Los Angeles. There are a locomotive rail yards in the Inland Empire, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ontario. There are rail yards, all of which are surrounded by low income communities of color, and all of which are being impacted by the diesel emissions.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: In West Long Beach, community groups of fighting Warren Buffett's BNSF railway, which wants to build a massive facility where 5,500 trucks would bring containers from the port onto trains each day. This Southern California International Gateway project is opposed by air regulators, environmentalists, and neighbors who contend in lawsuits that the 185-acre yard would dramatically worsen air quality. I meet up with community activists Evelyn Knight, who has lived in Long Beach since 1962, and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery. I ask her why she is opposed to this new rail yard. 


EVELYN  KNIGHT: When they were going to expand rail yards, and that meant that they were going to have thousands of more trucks, and now they never got rid of all the ones that are already doing these things in our community and now they're going to add some more. And that didn't make sense. So, we rallied, and we had meetings. The port was saying how this was going to be so much better and all the changes that they were going to be making and how you're going to have all this good stuff when you bring in some what bad stuff and it wasn't making too much sense to anybody but them who wanted to try to fool us. So, it wasn't making any sense. We demonstrated and we talked, and we marched around and let people know we were there. We met with the port people and when they had meetings, we had people from the community who had experienced cancer, illness, sickness of their children and their families, and death, we ourselves engaged to try to get them to listen and to do alternatives. And they were always talking about having more jobs and more jobs and more jobs and more money. And when we would go to the air quality board, one time I went to one of those meetings, and this man, we were talking about how bad the pollution was and what it did to people. And one man got up there and he said, oh, yeah, I know that pollution caused problems. He said, my own grandchild has asthma, and I know that that's creating problems for him, but I need this money. This man is here, you know, talking in favor of even things that's happening to his grandchild for some money. Somebody's going to sacrifice their grandchild. You can't worry about other people if you can't worry about your own family, you know, so what have we come to?

JARED BLUMENFELD: And you managed to stop it. 

EVELYN KNIGHT: Yes, yes. We went to Omaha, Nebraska, and we protested Warren Buffet. We walked around Omaha, Nebraska with this great big eight-foot respirator, and we've talked about his big meeting that he had with his money people, his stock holders, and we sent messages to him and we did all kinds of things in Omaha, Nebraska, and rallied all over the place and had a good time doing that. It's always good when you engage, you know, you make friends, you do things with people who want to see you doing these things and you have to not be afraid to do it. You know, not be afraid to stand up. You know, King said, if you don't stand for something, you'll lay down for anything. And that's really what happened to people.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What’s the next step for you, Evelyn? 

 

EVELYN KNIGHT: I tell people this stuff is from the womb to the tomb. So, I'm going to do what I do because I do what I enjoy doing and I like doing it. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Before leaving Long Beach, I asked Doctor Joe Lyou, the director of the Coalition for Clean Air, how much it would cost to clean up all the goods movement activities in southern California. 

 

DR. JOE LYOU: To actually stop all that pollution to prevent all that pollution that's happening as a result of all those imports, it would cost a few sounds on a pair of running shoes. It doesn't cost all that much. The problem is it's nearly impossible to make someone in Kansas City pay those few cents to help offset the pollution that was caused by importing that. And the companies that you know benefit from all of this, the big box retailers primarily, they're reluctant to even raise a price a half a cent a because it's so competitive in their industry. But they have to come to the table, and they have to help pay for it. And it needs to benefit not only southern California, but ports all along the west coast and across the country. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, Joe, what are the next steps? 

DR. JOE LYOU: So, we need to do two things. We need to shine a bright light on these big box retailers to hold them accountable for what's happening at these ports and along these logistic freight industry communities. That way, the same kind of attention that was put on people who are operating sweat shops will be put on the consequences of the pollution that's happening here in southern California. That needs to happen. And the other thing is, they need to be sat down at a table and said, look, you got to help solve this problem and it's your responsibility. You can make it happen. Everyone's got to have skin in the game. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: How much money is coming in through the port a day, would you estimate? 

DR. JOE LYOU: About a billion dollars a day of goods come through the ports and it takes about a billion dollars a year for the next 14 or 15 years and actually clean all that up. So, it's not that much in the scheme of things. 

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: It's two weeks. 

 

DR. JOE LYOU: Yeah, it's two weeks of the cost of the goods. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: That's over 10 years. So, it's coming up to Christmas, Joe. I know you've got three kids and a wife. Are you conscious when you buy stuff thinking about, I'm not going to buy this because just has too big an impact? 

 

Yeah, I try to be, but I tell you I'm as guilty as others in a lot of ways, and in doing that. When I do order on Amazon, I try to bunch it up at the end of the week or the end of two weeks and order all at once so they can maximize the efficiency for how they get that stuff to me. I mean, I just had a yard sale and I got rid of a bunch of stuff and it felt so good to get rid of it. I have way more stuff than I need and really, my kids don't need a whole lot of things and we're trying to make sure that they recognize that these things come at a cost. 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Thank you so much to Dr. Joe Lyou, Barb Maynard, Fidel Gonzalez Martinez, Jessica Durrum, Antony Otto and Evelyn Knight for shining a light on the often, invisible underbelly of our import driven economy. I often hear about the environmental impacts of how products are made or dealt with at the end of their life and it was shocking for me to discover how much still needs to be done to clean up the way goods are moved around in our own country. When tough regulations are issued to reduce emissions from trucks, we need to make sure that truck drivers aren't being asked to pay the price. The fact that truck drivers are being illegally labeled as independent contractors so that hugely profitable logistic companies don't have to pay for cleaner running vehicles is outrageous. Anthony Otto’s zero-emission Long Beach Container Terminal shows us what's possible if we commit ourselves to a pollution-free future.  I was so heartened to meet with Evelyn Knight, who at 85, took on Warren Buffett, and she has been winning every step of the way. Evelyn has an amazing life story that she'll share in a future episode of Podship Earth. Since Christmas is next week, it's worth remembering that making something by hand not only will be meaningful for whoever receives the gift, it might also finally help to clean up the air in Los Angeles. Next week, we look back at the 156 amazing people that we've interviewed in 2018 and get inspired all over again. Thank you so much for being part of the Podship Earth journey. From the entire Podship Earth crew, sound engineer Rob Speight, producer Nancy Ferranti, executive producer David Kahn, and from me, Jared Blumenfeld, have a very peaceful holiday week.