CA Emissions Cops Want to Slam the Brakes on Diesel Rigs

The U.S. economy might not actually work without the diesel-guzzling lords of the road, but state regulators say they need to get gone

California regulators now hope to ban the sale of diesel rigs by 2040 in their ongoing cleaner air crusade. While the diesel dinosaurs may not be environmentally friendly, they do perform the small task of feeding and clothing most Americans, and providing them with awesome gadgets. Still, a recent proposal by the staff of the California Air Resources Board said that eliminating the mighty machines is a “moral obligation.”

As the Los Angeles Times reports, the plan, which is scheduled for consideration by CARB at a public hearing on October 27, also calls for medium- and heavy-duty trucks entering California ports and railyards to be zero emission by 2035, and that state and local government fleets go zero by 2027. Such sky-high goals would require a massive overhaul and upgrade of the state’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure at a time when California’s power grid is already being pushed beyond all previous expectations.

Breathing advocates and other green types say it’s a fair trade.

“Pound for pound, heavy-duty trucks are putting out far more pollution than anything else on the road,” Will Barrett, national senior director for clean air advocacy with the American Lung Association, told the Times. “And that’s really directly contributing to the fact that California has the worst air pollution in the country.”

The anti-rig proposal follows CARB’s vote last month to forbid the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035.

Trucking industry professionals submit that there’s no way in hell California is ready for any such prohibition on the diesel road warriors.

“There is no infrastructure to support this,” Chris Shimoda, vice president of the California Trucking Association, told paper, arguing that even if the state built up the charging infrastructure starting immediately, good luck providing enough power to run the 400,000 big rigs traversing the state by the deadline.

Currently, there are 1,900 medium- and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles operating in California, most of which are transit buses, the Times notes.

Proponents of the measure counter that the big rigs are doing more damage than most people realize, or believe.

“The rule truly is monumental,” Andrea Vidaurre, a policy analyst at Inland Empire nonprofit, the People’s Collective for Environmental Justice, tells the Times. “This is the only way we can get diesel out of our community.”

According to Vidaurre, “Right now you have 1,000 trucks an hour driving next to schools or communities in the Inland Empire. It is like hundreds of streets throughout the Inland Empire that are dealing with diesel spewing onto windows, in people’s houses, diesel spewing into the lungs of the kids playing, diesel causing people not to be able to go play outside. This is all real stuff. And we’re talking about people’s lives.”

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