Concepts to Reduce Emissions from Locomotives and Railyards
In the absence of federal action to address harmful emissions from locomotives, the CARB has approved the In-Use Locomotive Regulation (Regulation) to reduce criteria pollutants, toxic air contaminants, and greenhouse gas emissions for locomotives in-use. This Regulation will be implemented statewide, and provides an opportunity for locomotive operators to better address regional pollution and long-standing environmental justice concerns with communities near railyards and other locomotive operations.
The Regulation will accelerate immediate adoption of advanced cleaner technologies for all locomotive operations. The importance of transitioning transportation operations to zero-emissions highlighted in Executive Order N-79-20 signed by Govenor Newsom in 2020, which calls for 100 percent of off-road vehicles and equipment operations to be zero-emission by 2035. CARB is working with industry to create and test zero-emission locomotive technologies. As discussed in CARB’s Mobile Source Strategy, such technologies are critical to the State’s ability to protect public health, address climate change, and meet both State and federal air quality standards.
For more information about locomotives in California and the In-Use Locomotive Regulation, check out this brief video, which outlines the problem and our proposed solution, and for more specifics about impacts and compliance, visit the Locomotive Fact Sheets.
Over the past 20 years, CARB has worked to reduce emissions from locomotives by entering into enforceable agreements with the railroads. While progress has been made through the CARB emission reduction agreements with the Class 1 Railroads, additional emission reductions from the rail sector are critical to meet the criteria pollutant standards across the state. In 2017, CARB also petitioned U.S. EPA to create a new, cleaner emissions standards for locomotives.
On November 9, 2022, U.S. EPA responded to CARB's petition, stating:
- U.S. EPA will develop options for possible regulatory actions, examine current locomotive rules, and consider appropriate actions to ensure that their rules continue to meet Clean Air Act (CAA) requirements.
- U.S. EPA will undertake a notice and comment rulemaking process to reconsider existing locomotive preemption regulations to ensure they don’t inappropriately limit California’s and other states’ authorities under the CAA to address their air quality issues.
- U.S. EPA noted that the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provides an enormous opportunity for locomotives to transition to zero emissions and committed to explore opportunities to leverage these historic resources moving forward.
Additionally, the State of California has placed additional emphasis on protecting local communities from the harmful effects of air pollution through the passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 617 (C. Garcia, Chapter 136, Statutes of 2017). AB 617 is a significant piece of air quality legislation that highlights the need for further emission reductions in communities with high exposure burdens.