California air quality officials consider relaxing rules for some diesel trucks

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. – California air quality officials are considering giving small trucking operations more time to comply with new rules to clean up diesel emissions.

The proposal would push back deadlines by a few years for small fleets, lightly used trucks and those in rural areas with cleaner air, and offer other adjustments to assist truck owners, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday (http://lat.ms/1rfppR1 ).

The state Air Resources Board said even with the changes the state could still achieve 93 per cent of pollution cuts envisioned through 2023. A vote is planned for Thursday.

The changes under consideration come in response to pressure from small trucking firms and owner-operators who have pleaded for more time to comply with rules requiring them to install costly new diesel particulate filters or upgrade to cleaner models. The rules took effect this year.

“We’re all struggling,” Allen Forsyth told the Times. Forsyth operates a three-truck fleet that hauls local freight near Los Angeles International Airport. “I used everything I had to buy a 2012 truck. But I’m absolutely broke now.”

Environmentalists and other clean-air advocates have urged the board to limit amendments to the regulation and preserve what they call the single biggest step California has taken to reduce health risks from air pollution.

The proposed changes would slow the pace of cutting soot and smog-forming gases from the nation’s most polluted basins in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley, air quality officials acknowledge. But they say diesel emissions would fall to the same level as the existing regulation by 2020, when nearly every truck in the state will be required to have a filter to remove soot from its exhaust.

Diesel soot is by far the largest contributor to cancer risk of any air pollution source in California and was declared a toxic air contaminant by the state in 1998.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com

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