California takes aim at freight train emissions, bans non-electric train engines

California is taking action to curb locomotive emissions operating within its borders as part of the state’s sweeping climate agenda. On Thursday, the California Air Resource Board (CARB), a state agency tasked with protecting air quality and reducing harmful pollution, announced that it would pursue aggressive regulations to limit freight train emissions. The so-called In-Use Locomotive Regulation makes California the first state to tackle freight train emissions which represent just 0.5% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to federal data. “Locomotives are a key part of California’s transportation network, and it’s time that they are part of the solution to tackle pollution and clean our air,” CARB Chair Liane Randolph said in a statement Thursday. “With the new regulation, we are moving toward a future where all transportation operations in the state will be zero emissions.” Under the regulation, California will ban any locomotive engine that was constructed more than 23 years ago by 2030. And the rule would require all new switch, industrial and passenger locomotives to be zero-emissions while in California beginning in 2030 and 2035 for freight line haul. REPUBLICANS BLAST GAVIN NEWSOM’S PLAN TO MANDATE ELECTRIC TRUCKS, SAY IT WILL THREATEN GRID STABILITY In addition, locomotives will only be allowed to idle for a maximum of 30 minutes under the regulation. REPUBLICANS AIM TO BLOCK CALIFORNIA’S ‘HEAVY-HANDED’ EV MANDATES “Currently, operational emissions from just one train are worse than those of 400 heavy-duty trucks,” CARB said in a release. “To further underscore the impact of locomotive operations in California, emissions reductions from the new regulation are expected to be equal to almost double those emitted by all passenger vehicles in the state between now and 2050.”  “It is projected that the In-Use Locomotive Regulation will contribute the largest reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions toward meeting California air quality standards by the 2037 deadline,” the agency added. CARB also projected the regulation would create an estimated $32 billion in health savings and prevent 3,200 premature deaths and 1,500 emergency room visits or hospitalizations. However, the rule was criticized by a leading industry group that argued California’s move reflects a misunderstanding of zero-emissions train technology. “There is no clear path to zero emissions locomotives,” the Association of American Railroads said in a statement after the regulation was approved. “Mandating that result ignores the complexity and interconnected nature of railroad operations and the reality of where zero emission locomotive technology and the supporting infrastructure stand,” it continued.
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