Industry groups against proposed locomotive regulation

Industry groups against proposed locomotive regulation
Apr 15, 2024

California is planning to phase out diesel locomotives

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The Agricultural Transportation Working Group, a collective of close to 100 national and state ag industry organizations, is asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reject a proposed California rule that could have significant effects on the ag sector.

 In April 2023, the California Air Resources Board approved the In-Use Locomotive Regulation.

This regulation includes a phase out of diesel locomotives, and by 2030, locomotives must be less than 23 years old to operate in California. In addition, some locomotives manufactured after 2030 and 2035, respectively, must be zero-emission to run in the state.

Allowing California to go ahead with this regulation will put undue pressure on farmers and consumers, the groups say.

“The inevitable increases in transportation costs and introduction of operational inefficiencies for agricultural shippers and receivers would result in food price inflation,” the groups wrote to EPA Administrator Michael Regan on April 5, 2024.

California has three export ports – Los Angeles, Oakland and Long Beach – that export grain in containers.

Between 2006 and 2010, 97,000 metric tons of bulk grain and oilseeds were inspected for export from California, a 2014 USDA report says.

Also, between that time frame, California received 40.5 million tons of corn.

The Association of American Railroads also opposes the regulation.

Without a clear path to zero-emission locomotives, the In-Use Locomotive Regulation puts rail transport at risk.

“The industry is taking decisive action against climate change, including testing emerging technologies such as battery-electric and fuel-cell locomotives that may reduce GHG emissions and criteria pollutants,” the organization says in a document. “However, despite substantial investments and an industry-wide push to unlock a zero-emissions solution, a clear technological path has not emerged and will require additional research and development.”

The organization also estimates this rule would put more than 25,000 locomotives out of use.

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