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California Plans to Ban Diesel Train Engines ‘Constructed More Than 23 Years Ago by 2030’

California Plans to Ban Diesel Train Engines ‘Constructed More Than 23 Years Ago by 2030’

Railroad officials are argue the the proposed rules are unrealistic.

The last time we reported on trains in California, a bipartisan congressional group from Nevada and California asked the Biden administration for federal funds to build a high-speed rail line between Las Vegas and the Los Angeles area.

Now, California is proposing to ban diesel and other non-electric train engines…as well as control their idling time.

On Thursday, the California Air Resource Board (CARB), a state agency tasked with protecting air quality and reducing harmful pollution, announced that it would pursue aggressive regulations to limit freight train emissions. The so-called In-Use Locomotive Regulation makes California the first state to tackle freight train emissions which represent just 0.5% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to federal data.

“Locomotives are a key part of California’s transportation network, and it’s time that they are part of the solution to tackle pollution and clean our air,” CARB Chair Liane Randolph said in a statement Thursday. “With the new regulation, we are moving toward a future where all transportation operations in the state will be zero emissions.”

Under the regulation, California will ban any locomotive engine that was constructed more than 23 years ago by 2030. And the rule would require all new switch, industrial and passenger locomotives to be zero-emissions while in California beginning in 2030 and 2035 for freight line haul.

In addition, locomotives will only be allowed to idle for a maximum of 30 minutes under the regulation.

Like the Toyota CEO who warns that car technology isn’t poised to meet green-energy regulatory demands, railroad officials argue the the proposed rules are unrealistic.

The Association of American Railroads said in a statement “there is no clear path to zero emissions locomotives.”

“Mandating that result ignores the complexity and interconnected nature of railroad operations and the reality of where zero emission locomotive technology and the supporting infrastructure stand,” the group wrote.

…Kristen South, a Union Pacific spokesperson, said in a statement the rail company is “deeply disappointed” by the vote, adding that the rule is too ambitious for the current technology and infrastructure.

Union Pacific is working to cut greenhouse gas emissions in part by spending $1 billion to modernize locomotives and testing out engines powered by electric batteries, South wrote.

At the same time, they are nixing everything but electricity. California regulators want to prohibit the construction of natural-gas power plants.

The proposal, which goes before the California Air Resources Board for a vote next month, lays out how the state could reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2045, one of the most ambitious timelines in the nation. While it does not have the force of a legal ban on new gas power plants, its approval would make clear to other state agencies, including the California Public Utilities Commission, the state’s current policy.

Without nuclear power, California regulators are betting everything on a green energy strategy reliant on varying wind, light, and water levels. Failure is the foreseeable consequence of these choices.


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Antifundamentalist | May 3, 2023 at 3:02 pm

I know it isn’t going to work out that way, but I hope that law in practice looks like trains just stop running as far as California. Ships will have to unload onto trucks and take them to the border.

California wants to make sure that nothing is available for their residents to buy in the grocery store or elsewhere, not my problem

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to Ironclaw. | May 3, 2023 at 6:38 pm

    They also want to insure that what little agriculture still going on in the Central Valley rots in the fields because there’s no way to transport it.

    randian in reply to Ironclaw. | May 4, 2023 at 5:39 am

    Given that a lot of freight moves through California to the rest of the nation, I’d say they want to make sure nothing is available for everybody else too.

BeAChooser | May 3, 2023 at 3:28 pm

Stupid is as stupid does.

I never thought I would actually live in the world of Atlas Shrugged.
They demand that someone make the trains and trucks and farms and world run without any source of power. They are so used to their unreasonable demands being somehow met that they can’t see that someday they will not be. We are about to that day.

    BierceAmbrose in reply to Martin. | May 3, 2023 at 8:19 pm

    Beat me to it.

    I try not to reference The Big Book of Trains even when it’s spookily predictive. For Reardon’s sake, all these “deals” about this or that — you got some hand-picked people to agree on division of spoils they don’t have to produce. They traded chips counting the salmon running up river, til they could all live with the division.

    I get particularly exercised about the envior-weenies. How? How? How? How does that work? And what are you givingg up? And what alternative damage — beached whales are a bit much for a barbecue even if folks are hungry.

    Find me an enviro-scheme that does more good than harm, and i’ll show you the first one.

    They don’t just hate people; they hate the planet, too.

    Andy in reply to Martin. | May 3, 2023 at 8:51 pm

    oh Geeze- I always thought the train symbolism in Atlas Shrugged was a dated metaphore, but Newsome proved me wrong.

Ann in L.A. | May 3, 2023 at 3:47 pm

What these idiot don’t realize, is that by banning all deliveries to and from California, we are effectively building a wall around the state and cutting ourselves off from everywhere else. California becomes an island. We’re not all that great that everyone else is going to sacrifice themselves to cater to our whims. East coast and Gulf ports are perfectly capable of receiving imported goods, getting them on trains, and delivering them to the 47 contiguous states which still allow trains. Trucks and trains should just stop at the border and be done with it.

    paracelsus in reply to Ann in L.A.. | May 3, 2023 at 4:57 pm

    when the geniuses ban diesel trucks in Ca, Or and Wa will follow suit very quickly – just to see who can become the most green; then AMLO will quickly build a network of roads from Ensenada to Yuma taking Ca out of the equation.
    No problemo.

      Ann in L.A. in reply to paracelsus. | May 3, 2023 at 8:01 pm

      I believe OR and WA, and a couple other states, have passed laws that automatically adopt whatever CA does.

    CommoChief in reply to Ann in L.A.. | May 3, 2023 at 6:11 pm


    Excellent point. The increase in activity at Gulf and Atlantic ports that ramped up over the last couple years opened up the eyes of shippers. They hadn’t really seriously considered using those facilities out of habit until they had to. Then they figured out those ports are more modern and up to date than west coast ports and capable of running 24/7 ops.

    Much of the increase has remained. Consider the port of Mobile AL. Deepwater port, multiple billions in recent upgrades to accommodate more traffic access to I 10 E-W and I 65 N with multiple airports in the area. Not to mention reasonable access to the TN/Tom waterway.

    IMO, the State of CA is going to fall of their high horse of ideology within my lifetime as they squander their natural advantages and begin to lose out economically to other parts of the Nation who are competitive. They are coasting on the declining momentum of past generations of CA accomplishments while acting as if it was the current generation who created them.

      diver64 in reply to CommoChief. | May 4, 2023 at 3:03 am

      That’s right. In the past decade pretty much every major port on the Gulf and up the East Coast like Miami, Jacksonville, Charleston, Newark etc have dredged to accept the largest container ships and are busy building out transfer networks using trucks, warehouses etc all while Cali has adopted more rules and its longshoreman went on strike.

        randian in reply to diver64. | May 4, 2023 at 5:43 am

        Florida really needs to develop its west coast ports. Moving freight all the way around the Keys to Jacksonville or Miami seems silly to me.

      BierceAmbrose in reply to CommoChief. | May 4, 2023 at 8:29 pm

      YR right, Chief.

      People don’t get that the overlord-wranglers of big systems are essentially small “c” conservative, and that this makes sense. In complex systems, Far more changes are expensive, dangerous, or even fatal, than turn out to be viable, let alone better.

      They’ll try new stuff when forced to it. Only once the new thing is demonstrated, will they follow the spreadsheets to the advantage.

      Conveniently, the whack-jobs are creating lots of crises, motivating lots and lots of experiments. The systems end up with more diverse solutions than before, with the people in them skewed more toward the clever, and innovative.

      Whether we can survive the cost is a separate question.

    Olinser in reply to Ann in L.A.. | May 3, 2023 at 6:23 pm

    They’re too stupid to understand that public has shifted.

    They think that they still have the power to do crap like the old emissions standards on cars, and every other state will just have to lower its head because California is such a big market.

    That’s simply no longer the case. Plenty of trucking companies now simply refuse to do business with California rather than deal with their insane regulations.

      The Gentle Grizzly in reply to Olinser. | May 3, 2023 at 6:42 pm

      I’m not challenging or doubting what you say but really do want to know: are there any majors cutting off California?

        The unionized ones got a major lift by nixing independent truckers. So they are in bed with Newsome. Indies are likely bailing. The problem is between Wa, Or, and CA, this will cut off a lot of the major ports- but could end up being a boon for the southern gulf states.

        Sucks to be Idaho.

Train engines will de-couple at the border and head back with cargo from California. Only the state will be left to do it’s own work and solve it’s own problems,

They have no idea of the energy requirements to maintain their precious socialist dream. Peak stupidity does not equal peak energy efficiency.

    LeftWingLock in reply to alaskabob. | May 3, 2023 at 5:14 pm

    Respectfully, Bob, I think there is one more point to be considered. I would bet money not a single person currently on the CARB plans to be there in 2030. Every one of those rascals plans to run for higher office. So for them, this is the perfect alignment of the stars. They get to virtue signal very brightly now and someone else will be there to deal with the details later.

      alaskabob in reply to LeftWingLock. | May 4, 2023 at 2:12 pm

      True or “it can’t happen to me after I retire on my Cali pension”. Bill Handel , who has a morning show on KFI and is a lawyer, has stated that when he retires he will leave California. It’s easy to play socialist games in a state that can offer plenty… but there are limits. I think it is the mindset that they will make a socialist paradise without getting their hands dirty. Same for Alaska… lock it up and only turn on the lights when the Sierra Clubbers travel to the state to schmooze with wildlife…then shut it down when they leave. These people have no concept of how civilizations run.

    BierceAmbrose in reply to alaskabob. | May 4, 2023 at 8:32 pm

    Cali in particular has no idea of the inflows required to sustain their current state, let alone the ultimate, precious socialist dream.

    They’re letting themselves be orchestrated by people who don’t know reality always gets the only vote that counts, think they’ll be long gone, or both.

    Increasingly sucks to be them.

henrybowman | May 3, 2023 at 4:16 pm

“Ban Diesel Train Engines ‘Constructed More Than 23 Years Ago”
That’s how you know the kids are in charge.
Hey, California — why don’t you sell all your 20-year-old state-owned diesel trucks out of state for $1,000 each. You know, just to get rid of them. Because they’re useless, and OLD… oh my, so old!

Doesn’t this run afoul of the interstate commerce clause of the US Constitution, if California still believes that this document applies to them?

Diesel locomotives are electric vehicles, otherwise known as a hybrid.

    sfharding in reply to rhhardin. | May 3, 2023 at 6:34 pm

    You are correct. Called diesel electrics, the electricity is generated on the locomotive, rather than at a remote site which can’t be seen so everyone can pretend it doesn’t exist.

E Howard Hunt | May 3, 2023 at 5:05 pm

They should bring back coal fired steam engines. The selling point could be infusing the steam with botanical scents in order to provide aroma therapy to underserved communities.

The pure stupidity of California reminds me of this Navy story:

This is the transcript of a radio conversation of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October, 1995. Radio conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operations 10-10-95.

Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.

Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.

Americans: This is the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln, the second largest ship in the United States’ Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers and numerous support vessels. I demand that YOU change your course 15 degrees north, that’s one five degrees north, or countermeasures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship.

Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call.

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to ParkRidgeIL. | May 3, 2023 at 6:45 pm

    I have heard that one before and still get a hearty laugh out of it.

    BierceAmbrose in reply to ParkRidgeIL. | May 3, 2023 at 8:23 pm

    Clearly inauthentic. Our Navy has been incapable of noticing, let alone avoiding, immanent collisions for a while.

    You know it’s a thing when the CNO’s office sports a sign: “It’s been ZZ days since our last blue-water collision.”

Let them starve. I feel no mercy for them.

Ok, so…good luck with keeping your people on Californiastan alive! In case you didn’t catch it, much of Cali’s commerce is in it’s Ports which are serviced by trains to transport into the interior and I”ve pulled a bunch of those containers. Problem is that Ports along the Gulf and East Coast have dredged recently to handle those ships so guess where they will be going?

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to diver64. | May 3, 2023 at 6:47 pm

    I believe three is also a port either there or under construction in the Tijuana area.

      The one on the Mexican west coast is part of the whole Road Americas scheme which would build a rail network into the American Mid West endpoint of Kansas City and it’s railyards I believe.

    iconotastic in reply to diver64. | May 3, 2023 at 10:35 pm

    Does the Asia shipping that offloads in the Gulf come through the Canal? Or around Africa?

      diver64 in reply to iconotastic. | May 4, 2023 at 3:05 am

      Canal which was recently widened for the new class of container ships and the original route through Nicaragua is once again being considered for another route to handle the increased traffic and largest ships afloat.

It is obvious that the people in California who are in charge of car regulations could never change a spark plug, and the people in charge of trains can’t even get a model train set put together in their parents’ basement.

Subotai Bahadur | May 3, 2023 at 7:03 pm

OK, with the bans on trucks and trains it is clear that they [California, Oregon, and Washington] do not want trade or the movement of goods through their states if they are destined for or come from the other states. OK. So be it. There is one slight problem though. If a product comes from those three states, I assume that they want to still export them AND BE PAID FOR THEM. How do they intend to get those products TO the state line and across it so it can be loaded onto the standard means of cargo movement? And, any such effort is going to increase the freep with the costs of said products. Which will have to be reflected in the final price charged at point of sale. Which will incentivize the search for alternate sources for those products other than the Gaia worshiping states. That search will be successful in many if not most cases.

And as time goes on, and those states deliberately destroy their means of producing electrical energy, they will end up having to purchase it from an American state. I wonder how much it will cost?

Just in passing, since state borders are going to be boundaries for trade, there is a cross border trade in water. While Washington and Oregon have watersheds sufficient for their needs; California depends on Colorado sending it more than its [California’s] share of the Colorado River’s waters. How thirsty will it get out in Southern California if we take time to refill the reservoirs here we have drained for their benefit? Should not take more than a couple of years.

I would also recommend that independent truck owner-operators and shipping lines in those states start taking steps to prepare to move themselves and their equipment to the rest of the country as a contingency plan.

Subotai Bahadur

    Ann in L.A. in reply to Subotai Bahadur. | May 3, 2023 at 7:58 pm

    These people believe making things is icky, and people who make things with their hands are filthy MAGA lowlifes who they will be happy to drive out of the state.

      CommoChief in reply to Ann in L.A.. | May 4, 2023 at 9:29 am

      Which is exactly how they think and it works for a while, until the systems created by prior generations fall into disrepair or are overloaded and fail. That is the eventual future of CA. The only question is when that becomes very clear to the residents. Maybe when the folks with dirty fingernails no longer answer the call b/c they moved to a place where they aren’t resented, disdained or unappreciated.

BierceAmbrose | May 3, 2023 at 8:26 pm

They are free to rickshaw as much stock out to the transshipment points as someone will pay to pick up there. Same with shipments in.

I hear birkenstocks have excellent traction.

RE: “we are moving toward a future where all transportation operations in the state will be zero emissions.”

Fixed: “we are moving toward a future where all transportation operations in the state will be zero.”

California is bound and determined to eliminate any incoming products from being shipped to their state.

An opening paragraph I would like to see. “In an effort to accelerate the CARB diesel engine pollution rules scheduled for 2035 the trucking and railroad industry has decided to stop using diesel power immediately. Any transportation issues that surface will be turned over to the CARB for resolution.”

Pettifogger | May 4, 2023 at 8:27 am

I know almost nothing about breeding mules, but my guess is that 2030 is too soon for us to get enough to reinstitute the 20-mule teams.