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California’s Air Quality Agency Pushes for Stricter Locomotive Emissions Standards

California Air Resources Board (CARB) chair Mary D. Nichols requested the U.S. EPA take action to adopt more stringent emission standards for locomotives, saying that the move is needed to clean up the air in “high-risk” communities in and around the nation’s railyards. The purpose of this request is to accelerate the movement to zero- or near-zero emission locomotives.

Proposed emission standards would cut toxic and smog-causing emissions by 85 percent for diesel particulate matter (PM) and 66 percent for oxides of nitrogen (NOx) below current ‘Tier 4’ levels. Newly manufactured locomotives would have some zero-emission mile capability.

Reducing locomotive-related emissions and the resulting air toxic hot spots near railyards is a high priority for disadvantaged communities within California and around the nation,” Nichols said. “A new generation of locomotives will also, once in operation, offer fuel savings to the railroad industry.

To further reduce locomotive emissions, CARB is requesting the development of updated emission standards, including standards for newly manufactured locomotives, and standards for reduced emissions when locomotive engines are remanufactured.

The proposed standards recognize advancements in technology that support zero-emission rail operation in impacted communities while also providing nationwide fuel savings for the railroads.

Nichols cites U.S. EPA’s long history of working for environmentally burdened and economically disadvantaged communities, and urges the federal agency to exercise its authority to adopt more stringent locomotive emission standards to address issues affecting public health and welfare, and so that all states can meet federal air quality standards and climate goals. California is requesting that U.S. EPA respond by Summer 2017.

The full petition to the U.S. EPA is available here.