Palin letter to Schwarzenegger sparks anger

Clean air campaigners are fuming following the revelation that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is attempting to block a piece of legislation to cut air pollution.

A letter from Ms Palin, the Governor of Alaska, to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has surfaced in which she urges him not to sign the Ports Investment Bill.

The Bill would tax container ships arriving at California ports and put the money raised towards projects to reduce congestion and air pollution in the state, including the toxic fumes produced by shipping.

But Ms Palin says the move would damage her state’s economy, and argued that most goods arriving in Alaska come by container ship.

The letter, dated August 28, has been seized on by environmentalists and Democrats now that Ms Palin has been announced as John McCain’s running partner in the Presidential elections.

She writes: “For Alaskans, a very large percentage of goods (90% or more) shipped to Alaska arrive as marine cargo in a container.

“Many communities lack road access and depend entirely on the shipment of goods by container.

“Shipping costs have increased significantly with the rising price of fuel and these higher costs are quickly passed onto Alaskans. This tax makes the situation worse.”

David Pettit, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Southern California Air Programme, said Governor Palin should be “ashamed” of the pollution her state causes in California.

“Right now, ships going to Alaska and Hawaii contribute to this pollution every time they leave California docks, and the citizens of Alaska and Hawaii are getting a free ride because they pay nothing for the California pollution that these ships cause,” he said.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said urged Governor Schwarzenegger not to give into other states’ fears and sign the Bill.

He added: “I am disappointed that Governor Sarah Palin has chosen to put private interests ahead of the people’s interest.”

The Bill was approved by the Senate earlier this month and now requires Governor Schwarzenegger’s signature to become law.

The Coalition for Clean Air – which is now running a campaign urging people to write to the Governor asking him to sign the Bill – described it is “the best funding option on the table to deal with the crises of port pollution and cargo congestion”.

Kate Martin

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