California seeks to ban sales of diesel big rigs in a bold bid to cut pollution from the most polluting vehicles.
The state Air Resources Board is looking at a proposal to ban so-called diesel buses and other vehicles that use diesel fuel in cities where they drive and in some rural areas.
The board is also expected to recommend new limits of greenhouse gases as a result of its study.
Diesel engines produce far more pollution over the life of the vehicle than gasoline engines, leading California to focus on them as a way to combat climate change.
The proposal comes as California grapples with air pollution from a record number of vehicles, including cars and trucks.
Diesel fuel has been found to generate about 4,000 tons of soot and black carbon — the fine particles most blamed for air pollution — during a two hour driving trip, according to the American Lung Association.
It’s estimated that the state’s fleet of diesel trucks produce about 15,000 tons of soot and black carbon in a two-hour commute.
A diesel truck in Santa Cruz is pictured in 2017. [DOUG MILLS / Staff]
California’s air pollution has been one factor behind the state’s failing air quality, with the Air Resources Board estimating that emissions of harmful air pollutants contributed to 19,000 premature deaths last year.
California’s goal has been to reach an average of 35.5 percent average vehicle fuel efficiency between 2020 and 2025, up from 27.5 percent a decade ago.
The state law requires that vehicles are at least 12.5 percent efficient by 2025.
Efficiency requirements on vehicles range from 10.9 miles per gallon for small cars to 24.7 miles per gallon for big trucks.
The state Air Resources Board is not proposing a limit on the number of diesels allowed on California roads.
But it would require that an average vehicle has at least 14.5 percent fuel efficiency in urban areas and 15.5 percent in rural areas — a 20 percent improvement in the state’s average fuel economy from the standards set in 2018.
The proposal goes farther than the 2020 standards. It says the fuel-efficiency guidelines should be updated for the next 10 years to remain at their current levels.
A California trucker is pictured in 2010. [DOUG MILLS / Staff]
It is too early to