The Air Resources Board approved a regulation on Thursday to ban diesel-powered locomotives more than 23 years old starting in 2030, with a goal of transitioning all engines to zero-emissions by 2047. Those trains can still switch to diesel once they leave the state.
Many environmental justice and community advocates from the San Joaquin Valley backed the mandate, decrying cancer rates from bad air.
The California Grain and Feed Association raised alarms over potential service disruptions with the rule. The industry is responsible for just 0.4% of the emissions in the state—less than a Class 1 locomotive, argued lobbyist Dennis Albiani. Electrification would be infeasible, he explained, since operations typically have just 24 hours to unload 100 cars, leaving insufficient charge time. It also requires low-torque for repeated pulling and idling. He requested an exemption until 2027.

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Board member Eric Guerra responded that the regulation has flexibility to work on that, though he emphasized to CARB staff the importance of food and agriculture. Guerra, whom Gov; Gavin Newsom appointed to the board in January and who grew up in a farmworker family, argued regulations have been effective at cleaning up crop dusters and banning open agricultural burning. But he cautioned that food service disruptions can lead to higher food prices for working families.
Chair Liane Randolph said California is “moving toward a future where all transportation operations in the state will be zero emissions.” Soon after passing the regulation, the board began taking testimony on its Advanced Clean Fleets rule, which will ban the sale of diesel-powered trucks by 2036. It will vote on the proposal Friday.