FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
SACRAMENTO, CA – In a major victory for public health and environmental justice advocates, the California Air Resource Board (CARB) passed the nation’s most progressive measures to limit NOx emissions from truck fleet and locomotive sources. CARB unanimously voted to approve the historic Locomotive and Advanced Clean Fleet (ACF) Rules. Both represent first-of-their-kind regulations to phase out polluting diesel-powered vehicles at railyards and ports.
“CARB’s passage of the Locomotive and Advanced Clean Fleet rules within two days of each other is an unprecedented show of solidarity with communities on the frontlines of transportation pollution,” said Yassi Kavezade, Sierra Club MyGen Campaign Representative. “We will save thousands of lives in California, and thousands more if these rules are replicated in other states and at the federal level.”
Under the new Locomotive Rule, any locomotive (apart from switchers) older than 23 years and running on diesel must be retired and replaced with an electric alternative beginning in 2030. Passing this Rule alone will cut NOx emissions by 63 tons per day across California and prevent more than 3,200 premature deaths.
More than two dozen community members from areas heavily impacted by railyard, port and transportation pollution like the Inland Empire, Long Beach, Los Angeles and San Joaquin Valley gave public comments. Advocates like Benjamin Luna with People’s Collective for Environmental Justice shared stories of infants afflicted with asthma, children missing out on recess because of poor air quality, and deaths due to cancer.
“There are very hardworking people [in the Inland Empire] who every day wake up to make this a better nation, but that are slowly dying because of the pollution,” Luna said in Spanish. “It breaks my heart to see young children with problems, irritations in their eyes. They cry and they’re unaware that it’s caused by these big companies that are contaminating our air.”
“The fact that I even have to be here to tell you to do the right thing saddens me,” said Angie Balderas, Lead National Organizing Representative with Sierra Club’s MyGen Campaign and a longtime resident of the Inland Empire. “People are dying in the IE and LA. This vote is vital so we need you to vote yes. We need to ensure that you are centering the community in your decisions. When you center the community you can never go wrong.”
Members of the Board also criticized the rail industry for delaying upgrades to zero emissions locomotives on their own.
“You have the money,” said Board member Gideon Krakov, referencing BNSF’s $9 billion operating budget. “We need to see the details.”
Similar to the Locomotive Rule, the Advanced Clean Fleet rule will jumpstart the transition from dirty diesel in truck fleets to electric, zero emissions vehicles. The ACF rule requires 100% on-road pollution-free drayage trucks by 2035, and truck replacement purchase requirements for public and large fleets while requiring manufacturers to sell 100% pollution-free trucks by 2036.
Ray Pingle, Sierra Club California Lead Volunteer, MHD Transportation Electrification said “Requiring 100% of medium and heavy-duty vehicle sales to be ZEVs beginning in 2036 is groundbreaking and the earliest date for such a requirement internationally. California’s leadership will serve as a model for other states and nations to demonstrate that this transition is not only good for the environment, but good for the economy including through the creation of thousands of new future-oriented jobs.”
These two votes cap off years of advocacy and engagement from frontline community groups, climate scientists, doctors, and legal experts.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.