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California Air Resources Board. (Photo: CARB)

CARB Approves Drastic New Locomotive Emission Regulations

All trains built before 2007 are to be banned in the state by 2030

By Evan Symon, April 28, 2023 4:20 pm

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced on Thursday that they have approved new locomotive regulations designed to significantly cut back on emissions emitted from trains in the state, including banning the use of all trains built before 2007 in 2030.

California has introduced many restrictions on cars and trucks in the last several years, including a new gas-powered car sale ban set to be fully implemented in 2035 and requiring that half of all new sales of heavy duty trucks need to be electric by 2035. While a few other states have so far followed California’s lead on the car and truck laws, no one had been willing to apply similar rules to trains. However, that changed Thursday, with California becoming the first major state to implement emissions-based restrictions on trains.

Under the new CARB regulations, known as the In-Use Locomotive Regulation, all locomotives more than 23-years-old in 2030 will be banned from use. Locomotives with auto-shutdown features will also be severely restricted, with them being unable to remain idle for more than 30 minutes when not in use starting next year.

Also beginning next year is an extra fine, requiring rail companies to pay into a state spending account based on emissions emitted from their trains. Funds there would then be used to spend on upgrades for cleaner trains.

Finally, all passenger, industrial, and switch trains built in or after 2030 will need to be fully emission free while operating in California, with freight trains to be under that system five years later in 2035.

According to CARB, 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. In addition, the state is expected to save around $32 billion in the coming decades through health savings due to the new regulations.

“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,” said CARB Chair Liane Randolph after the Board’s vote on Thursday. “With the new regulation, we are moving toward a future where all transportation operations in the state will be zero emissions.”

New regulations for trains

Environmental and some Housing groups were overwhelmingly in favor of the new upcoming restrictions on Thursday, with many noting that they hoped that more states, or even the federal government, would eventually adopt them.

“The locomotive rule has the power to change the course of history for Californians who have suffered from train pollution for far too long, and it is my hope that our federal regulators follow California’s lead,” said a spokesperson for Earth Justice on Thursday.

However, many noted that the seven year advance notice may not be enough time for many rail companies, especially those who use diesel trains, as they would have to spend a lot to operate from California in the coming years.

“Right now the average fleet age, nationwide, is 28.1 years,” explained James Phelps, an engineer and rail consultant, to the Globe on Thursday. “Average. And look, companies due replace locomotives as they need to, and those have better technology and are way better on things like emissions. But the California law  here, we’re talking about huge overhauls and essentially punishing companies financially just so that they can operate in one state. And that state, California, is critical, because they are the third most popular freight train state by tonnage.

“This was all going to happen naturally, but California is really testing companies by demanding them buy new trains, because that is essentially what they are doing. The effects are good. Less idle time means less of a chance that they’ll be robbed and better emissions will actually help the health of people. But we need to take into account train companies, how quick they can realistically change, what the added cost to them would be, and perhaps most critically, what this does to other states.

“To meet these rules, companies would replace trains going in and out of California first, while leaving those with worse emissions in other states. Essentially, California will be improving themselves while leaving other states to suffer who can’t or don’t want to put in these new regulations. CARB really needed to see the bigger picture on this one, but they had the blinders on.”

The new regulations are expected to begin, in-part, next year.

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8 thoughts on “CARB Approves Drastic New Locomotive Emission Regulations

  1. I am tired of CARB telling me what I can do. What are the penalties if a citizen or company refuses to follow their mandates?

  2. I would expect much of the imports entering the country through California and transported to other states will simply bypass California all together. This has already started. For the past 22 years the Port of Los Angeles was the busiest container port in North America. Now the Port of New York and New Jersey is the busiest.

  3. I hear that on page 437, paragraph 5 that trains must run on unicorn farts but only if the unicorns are fed organic rainbow pot.

  4. When will the jackasses at CARB mandate that all commercial activity of any kind, whatsoever is prohibited in California after 2030???
    This is where all of this insanity is ultimately leading…

  5. And who exactly is Liane Randolph, and what qualifications does she have to issue such draconian economic measures???
    Not a DAMN thing… she’s a NorCal political hack enviro-lawfair attorney, as described from her CARB bio, copied here :
    “Chair, California Air Resources Board
    Appointed December 2020 by Governor Gavin Newsom (of course, our horse’s-ass Governor)

    Term ends December 31, 2026

    Liane Randolph has spent most of her career in public service, specializing in environmental law and policy, effective administration, and a commitment to transparency and public process. She was appointed Chair of the California Air Resources Board by Governor Gavin Newsom in December 2020. Starting in 2015, Randolph served six years as a Commissioner at the California Public Utilities Commission and managed numerous decisions on energy efficiency, integrated energy resource planning, and regulation of transportation network companies, as well as spearheading significant Commission policy reforms. Prior to the PUC, Randolph served from 2011 to 2014 as Deputy Secretary and General Counsel at the California Natural Resources Agency, where she worked on a wide variety of legal and policy issues, including work on the Klamath Dam Removal agreement, CEQA guidelines, and the Agency’s first Tribal Consultation Policy. Randolph’s first role with the State was as Chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission from 2003 to 2007. Her work at the state level builds on experience with local government that she gained while practicing municipal law as a contract City Attorney for the Cities of San Leandro and Suisun City. Randolph earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law and lives in Oakland with her husband and family.”

  6. Who wants to bet that Newsom will announce that BYD will be the officially state-sanctioned “green” locomotive provider???
    Anyone want to hazard how much of a kickback he will receive, or funneled through his sleazebucket wife’s “foundation”???

  7. Wow, these are the same green communist shitheads that sent out letters this last summer to all owners of classic cars before 1978 demanding surveys so they can begin rolling out zero emission zones in all cities and not let us drive our old cars anymore.

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