Press-Telegram (Long Beach)
State, local regulators look to get polluting diesel trucks off road
Two sweeping air pollution regulations aimed at removing smog-causing diesel trucks from Southern California roadways and warehouses are being released for public review within the next 30 days.
The measures are part of an executive order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom to have only zeroemission trucks and buses — most would be electric — on the roads by 2045. The changeover would affect 2 million medium- and heavy-duty trucks operating in California, including about 500,000 in Southern California.
A local Southern California measure would require trucks serving 3,000 warehouses to be electrified.
Trucks moving packages and all kinds of goods account for 47% of all the NOx, short
hand for oxides of nitrogen, in the South Coast Air Basin, which encompasses Orange County and the nondesert portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. NOx is a component of ground-level ozone, a gas that damages the lungs. The basin has the highest levels of ozone as part of smog in the nation.
Air pollution studies show ozone, produced when pollutants “cook” in sunlight, and fine particulates, a direct component of diesel soot, can trigger asthma attacks, emergency room visits, heart attacks and lung damage. Fine particulates, or PM 2.5, pass more easily into the lungs and even the brain.
Transportation sources account for 40% of the greenhouse gases in California, according to state environmental agencies. These gases, such as carbon dioxide, contribute to global climate change, which is melting polar ice caps and causing extreme weather events, according to climate scientists.
The Inland Empire has seen numerous large-scale warehouses and logistics and fulfillment centers pop up in the past 10 years, which are served by diesel big rigs and delivery vans for companies such as WalMart and Amazon. The two proposed regulations would reduce local air pollution around warehouses often located in low-income communities, as well as in and out of the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, according to Andrea Vidaurre, senior policy analyst for the People’s Collective For Environmental Justice in the Inland Empire.
“What used to be freeways, railways and ports are now pollution sources formed into an inland port,” Vidaurre said. “Forty percent of the nation’s stuff goes through those ports and come to warehouses in the communities of Bloomington, Muscoy, Highland, Moreno Valley, Perris and other areas in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.”
The two regulations are different in scope and approach but both target diesel trucks:
• The California Air Resources Board is proposing an Advanced Clean Fleets program that sets targets for buying electric vehicles for public and private fleet owners, using a phased approach that would require all fleets to be transitioned to 100% zero-emission vehicles by 2042.
• The South Coast Air Quality Management District is scheduled to have a hearing April 2 on its Warehouse Indirect Source Rule. About 3,000 existing warehouses over 100,000 square feet in size would be required to reduce truck tailpipe emissions from vehicles that serve their facilities by replacing them with electric or fuel-cell trucks and installing electric charging infrastructure. Otherwise, each warehouse owner would be required to pay a “mitigation fee,” estimated at 90 cents per square foot to the AQMD, to be used by others to buy clean-fuel trucks and equipment.
Though environmental groups, from the Peoples Collective to the Sierra Club and the American Lung Association support both rules, some industry groups have deep concerns.
The Southern California chapter of the National Association of Office and Industrial Parks opposes the AQMD warehouse measure, saying it will cost Southern California warehouses $1 billion a year and will result in higher consumer prices on everything from medicine to groceries to electronics.
“We share the goal to reduce air emissions but it needs to be done in a way that makes sense,” said Timothy Jemal, CEO of association in SoCal. Jemal said the association’s 1,300 members will continue to oppose the measure.
There are too few electric trucks are on the market to meet the demand, according to Jemal, so most warehouse owners will pay the fee, which he said is illegal.
“We believe this is a tax that requires two-thirds’ voter approval in order to be adopted,” he added.
In a webinar on the CARB’s clean truck fleets measure, Brandon Rose, a representative of the board,
said there are 93 ZEV truck models on the market today and that will increase to 109 by 2023.
“There really is a wide variety of zero-emission trucks and buses available,” Rose said. “You are starting to see this become more mainstream.”
Costs are going down, he added.
Investor-owned utilities have received approvals by the California Public Utilities Commission for $700 million to install electric-charging infrastructure through 2023, enough to support 18,000 trucks, buses and off-road vehicles, he said.
In the webinar, some operators of public fleets asked if exemptions were allowed if the costs were too high. Though the rule is still in the early stage and could be changed, Tony Brasil of CARB answered, “We wouldn’t use cost as a direct criteria.”
However, CARB said it would work with cities and counties to avoid having to buy two electric trucks to replace one.
As far as large trucks that take containers from the ports to warehouses and rail yards, the proposed fleet rule from CARB is an extension of a similar truck regulation that sunsets in 2022. These trucks would be required to be 100% emission-free by 2035 to operate at a rail yard or sea port, the proposal says.
CARB plans additional online workshops for its clean fleet rule in April and June. No date has been set for adoption.