California seeks to ban sales of diesel big rigs in a bold bid to cut pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But the new regulations could also stifle the growing industry and hurt the state’s fragile farming industry, its tourism and agriculture industries, and homeowners and property owners, according to industry experts and law enforcement.
The regulation would apply to heavy-duty semi-truck and semi-tractor trailers designed to move more than 20,000 pounds. It would ban their use on the road, requiring companies to comply with on-road tests or move them for off-road testing, the proposal being circulated by the California Air Resources Board.
The trucks would have to be outfitted with emission controls, but how those could be implemented is still unclear. If the trucks are moved, they would have to be hauled back to a testing ground for on-road testing while off-road tests would not be required because the state would consider the environmental cost of moving the trucks off road to be more than the cost of testing them.
The Sierra Club is challenging the rules in the state court of appeals. A judge has yet to issue a ruling but the agency said they could be in effect by June 1, when the Legislature adjourns. A ruling is expected this summer.
California’s rules could be the first of their kind adopted by an entire country in the world that has no rules, at least in the way they were written.
The rules go beyond a proposed ban on certain trucks in the U.S. that is similar to California’s proposal, and could set a precedent for other states.
“The California Air Resources Board came up with a concept that will raise the pollution standards for trucks in the United States,” said Mark Brown, a staff attorney with the San Francisco-based Natural Resources Defense Council, a plaintiff in the state’s suit. “These rules go far beyond a proposal. They will allow the state to actually enforce California’s proposed standards.”
This is the first major environmental regulation to come from California since its landmark air quality law was signed in 1990. It’s also the first regulation of its kind to come from California to the rest of the nation since the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates greenhouse