SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California on Friday became the first state in the country to force big diesel trucks to clean up their exhaust, despite warnings from truckers the new rules will force them out of business.
About a million vehicles, from big rigs to school buses, are affected by the new rules, which will begin taking effect in 2011 and do not require further ratification.
Some vehicles will have to start retrofitting engines in 2011 and some older trucks will be forced into retirement starting in 2012. By 2023, all trucks must meet 2010 new engine emission standards.
The rules regulate smog-causing oxides of nitrogen, which are greenhouse gases, and particulate matter, which is toxic. The California Air Resources Board estimated the regulations would cost about $5.5 billion. It put the health benefits of cleaner air at $48 billion to $69 billion over the next couple of decades.
The move by California, the leading U.S. state on climate change, complements a detailed strategy to cut carbon emissions that the board passed on Thursday as part of its sweeping plan to cut carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
While the federal government has no such rules for trucks or carbon, President-elect Barack Obama has said that climate change will be a priority when he takes office in January.
Individual truckers and companies told the board, which is the agency charged with carrying out the state’s landmark global warming law, that the new rules requiring retrofitting of recently purchased trucks and the replacing of older vehicles would prove too financially onerous during a global economic slowdown.
Board members recognized that the buckling U.S. economy could change the impact of the regulation, requiring changes.
But Chairman Mary Nichols said before two unanimous votes ratifying the changes that history showed such rules were not economically onerous.
“While this one is big and expensive and is being adopted in difficult times, we’ve never adopted a rule that I’m aware of that didn’t have severe opposition,” she said. “The reality has been that the cost of compliance has turned out to have been less than we estimated.”
Reporting by Peter Henderson; Editing by Peter Cooney