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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

ASLRRA: CARB locomotive rule would lead to more big trucks on highways


American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) President Chuck Baker testified yesterday before the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight in a hearing titled “Environmentalism Off the Rails: How CARB Will Cripple the National Rail Network.”

Subcommittee members called the hearing to review impacts from the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) in-use locomotive rule. The CARB rule would prohibit locomotives older than 23 years from operating in the state, starting in 2030 for switch, industrial and passenger locomotives, and in 2035 for line haul locomotives. By 2047, 100% of annual fleet usage in California must be from zero-emission locomotives.

CARB approved the rule in October 2023. Opponents are asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to deny CARB's request for a waiver from the federal Clean Air Act so that it can implement the rule.

“The title of the hearing says it all — the CARB in-use locomotive rule will have dire consequences for short lines, and will cripple the U.S. rail network,” Baker told the subcommittee, according to his written testimony.

The CARB rulemaking text acknowledges the impact the rule would have on short lines — that some likely would go out of business due to the high cost of upgrading their locomotive fleet, Baker said. CARB’s rule would force railroads to set aside significant revenue to acquire low- and zero-emission locomotives that are not commercially available, not viable at-scale for the industry and not anywhere near affordable for small railroads, ASLRRA officials said in a press release.

"What [CARB has] failed to recognize is the broad-reaching, national negative impact of that reality to shippers, the economy — particularly in small town and rural America — and to the American public due to tens if not hundreds of thousands of additional heavy trucks on the nation’s highways as the freight we carry is displaced,” said Baker.

ASLRRA’s entire written submission to the subcommittee is available here.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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