California may require railroads to eliminate pollution, EPA rules

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California may require railroads to eliminate pollution, EPA rules

California has won federal approval to enact a first-in-the-nation rule requiring the state’s railroads to reduce, and eventually eliminate, harmful air pollution from their trains. The railroad industry has already challenged the proposed rule in court.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday allowed the state to adopt regulations approved by the California Air Resources Board in April that would require railroads entering the state to replace their dirtiest diesels with cleaner models. .

Zero-emissions locomotives are required for all passenger and industrial engines built after 2030 and for all freight-line locomotives after 2035. Any polluting locomotive 23 years or older will not be allowed to state after 2030.

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The rule will also allow locomotives to run their engines idle for no more than 30 minutes at a time. Train operators must open spending accounts next July and make annual deposits to buy or lease cleaner diesel trains and purchase zero-emissions infrastructure.

“This common update will allow California to remain a leader in protecting people from the harmful health effects of diesel pollution,” said Katherine Garcia, a Sierra Club transportation official. “We thank the EPA for correcting a mistake and taking this important step toward protecting vulnerable communities near rail lines.”

The Air Resources Board predicts that emission limits would prevent 3,200 premature deaths and save $32 billion in health costs.

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Because of past EPA restrictions, the state board has been limited for the past 25 years from negotiating voluntary emissions agreements with Union Pacific and BNSF Railway. The board says the two lines produce 95% of all locomotive emissions across the state.

“Locomotive emissions disproportionately pollute communities near rail yards, causing significant and unreasonable public health and air quality issues, said Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif.” While this is an important step, I will continue to press the EPA to follow California’s lead and address pollution from locomotives nationwide.”

But railroad companies say the restrictions hurt interstate transportation more than they help the public.

“Because of the importance of the interstate nature of railroad transportation (which operates by linking intrastate and interstate networks), Congress has repeatedly mandated that railroads should be regulated only at the federal level. ,” the Association of American Railroads and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association argued in a lawsuit filed in June in federal court in Sacramento.

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The federal pollution control law, they argue, “gives exclusive authority to the federal government to set emission standards for new trains, which expressly prevents state and local regulators from adopting or attempt to enforce such standards or other requirements.” The case, which seeks to halt the regulations, is pending before US District Judge John Mendez.