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Environmental groups calling for warehouse moratorium in the Inland Empire

Environmental groups calling for warehouse moratorium in the Inland Empire
Environmental groups calling for warehouse moratorium in the Inland Empire 03:35

Across the Los Angeles County line, a vast sea of warehouses fills much of the Inland Empire as many retailers have turned the region into a hub for their distribution operations. 

The organizations consist of online retailers such as Amazon and more traditional companies like grocery stories. And while these facilities bring jobs and provide a massive boost to the local economy, the warehouses have had a negative effect on the neighboring communities, according to dozens of environmental advocacy groups. 

Snarled Supply Chain Is Making U.S. Warehouse Shortage Worse
Lamps Plus shipping containers outside a warehouse in Redlands, California, U.S., on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021. Fallout from the global supply-chain crisis is clogging U.S. ports, pushing warehouses to capacity and forcing logistics managers to scramble for space.  Roger Kisby/Bloomberg via Getty Images

"The issue is the trucks," said Susan Phillips, an environmental analysis professor at Pitzer College. 

According to Phillips, and about 60 other environmental advocacy groups, the warehouses have created a major pollution issue. Because of this, the coalition has written a plea to Gov. Gavin Newsom to place a moratorium on new warehouses in the Inland Empire to stem the growing number of trucks that pass through the area. 

"Every time you add a new warehouse to a new landscape, you're adding 2,000, 3,000 — sometimes 9,000 truck trips per day," she said. "That's a lot."

Phillips added that the pollution disproportionally affects people of color and their children. 

"There's about 600 warehouses that surround 139 schools in the Inland Empire," she said. "Those kids, those teachers and those communities are getting a massive hit... They tend to idle in communities that are low income that are Latino, that are living next to freeway corridors or next to place where warehouses have been put in." 

A spokesperson for San Bernardino County tells us they do not have a position on the call for a warehouse moratorium, saying that the letter was sent to the governor and the county has not seen it. 

However, in a statement to the Press-Enterprise, County Supervisor Curt Hagman appeared to oppose the call for a moratorium, saying that the logistics industry "continues to invest in environmentally friendly buildings and the trucking industry commits to vehicles with reduced or near zero-emission emissions. He added that California has strict environmental laws which all local governments must obey.

"We're not trying to shut down warehouses. We can't," said Phillips. "There's a billion square feet of warehouses in the IE already. Nobody is trying to touch that. We would love to make those buildings more green. We would love to make the fleet more green."

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