California moves to phase-out diesel-powered trucks, cut locomotive pollution

By Reuters   April 28, 2023 | 10:13 pm PT
California moves to phase-out diesel-powered trucks, cut locomotive pollution
A truck engine is tested for pollution exiting its exhaust pipe near the Mexican-U.S. border in Otay Mesa, California September 10, 2013. Photo by Reuters
California regulators on Friday approved new rules requiring all medium- and heavy-duty vehicles sold in the state in 2036 be zero-emission, a day after the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted reduced emission regulations for locomotives.

"With these actions requiring all new heavy-duty truck sales to be zero emission and tackling train pollution in our state, we’re one step closer to achieving healthier neighborhoods and cleaner air for all Californians," said Governor Gavin Newsom.

The rule also require transitioning existing fleets to zero-emission vehicles. Big rigs, local delivery and government fleets must transition to zero emission by 2035, garbage trucks and local buses by 2039, and sleeper cab tractors and specialty vehicles by 2042.

The board estimates the reduced pollution from the truck rules would result in $26.6 billion in health savings from fewer asthma attacks, emergency room visits and respiratory illnesses, and save $48 billion in trucking operating costs.

American Trucking Associations Chief Executive Chris Spear criticized the decision to force motor carriers to purchase zero-emission vehicles.

"California is setting unrealistic targets and unachievable timelines that will undoubtedly lead to higher prices for the goods and services delivered to the state and fewer options for consumers," Spear said.

CARB said fleet owners can receive exemptions based on available technology to ensure they can replace older polluting trucks with ones that have the cleanest engines in the nation

While trucks represent only 6% of vehicles on California’s roads, they account for over 35% of the state’s transportation generated nitrogen oxide emissions and about 25% of on-road greenhouse gas emissions.

Paul Cort, director of Earthjustice’s Right to Zero campaign, said the "new truck rule will have profound health and economic benefits not just here, but in every other state that adopts these clean air protections."

On Thursday, CARB adopted new locomotive regulations requiring that by 2030 only those less than 23 years old could operate in the state.

Switch, industrial and passenger locomotives built starting in 2030 will be required to operate in zero-emissions configurations in California, and for freight line haul beginning in 2035.

"With the new regulation, we are moving toward a future where all transportation operations in the state will be zero emissions," CARB Chair Liane Randolph said.

CARB in August voted to require all new vehicles sold in the state by 2035 to be either electric or plug-in electric hybrids. The Biden administration must still approve waivers for California to implement the new regulations.

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