That loud noise emanating from the California coast last month was the sound of ports, ocean carriers, importers, and exporters heaving a collective sigh of relief as Sen. Alan Lowenthal withdrew his container-fee bill from consideration by the state legislature.
Lowenthal's bill, S.B. 974, would have imposed a $60 fee on every 40-foot container moving through the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland. The millions of dollars raised annually would have been used to fund environmental and infrastructure improvements.
The Long Beach Democrat was unable to move his proposal forward in time to meet a mid-September deadline, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had promised a veto. But cargo interests should consider this to be only a temporary reprieve. Schwarzenegger also said that he supported the concept but wanted to work with Lowenthal to craft legislation that would achieve the bill's aims while facilitating the movement of goods through California's ports.
In other words, rather than being terminated, the California container fee—in one form or another—will be back.