Sacramento, California – California’s Air Resources Board (ARB) has unveiled a revised draft regulation that will require retrofits and engine replacements for the estimated 300,000 privately-owned diesel trucks and buses on the state’s roadways, beginning in 2012. The new draft supersedes an earlier version that would have required truckers to replace two trucks in a nine-year span instead of relying more heavily on retrofits; the revised proposal has a lower cost while preserving public health benefits.

The proposed regulation now calls for truckers to retrofit all pre-2007 model-year trucks with soot filters. It then requires a gradual modernization of trucks beginning in 2012, so that ultimately all trucks are 2010 or newer models, which are cleaner. ARB estimates that between 2010 and 2020, the regulation will prevent 11,000 premature deaths associated with exposure to diesel exhaust, and save roughly US$500 million in health care costs during that period.

“If passed by the Board later this year, this regulation will save thousands of lives and help the hundreds of thousands more who suffer from asthma and other respiratory ailments,” said Mary Nichols, ARB Chairman. “While we are sensitive to the economic impacts this measure poses to truckers, the public health benefits are far too great not to move forward.”

The regulation is projected to cost the trucking industry somewhere between US$3.6 to $5.5 billion from 2010 to 2021. The ARB estimates that will add less than a penny apiece to products hauled by those trucks. ARB is currently allocating US$1 billion in funds, much of which will go toward helping truckers retrofit and replace trucks. Other entities, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several California ports, are also offering financial assistance.

ARB has adopted stringent regulations to limit diesel emissions, including those of cargo handling equipment, ship auxiliary engines, off-road construction equipment and idling trucks, along with cleaner fuel for railroads and ships. Later this year, ARB will also consider adopting another proposed regulation involving ocean-going vessel main engines to further reduce diesel soot.

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