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Washington Farm Bureau: California green train mandate ‘entirely unworkable’

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(The Center Square) – A Washington agricultural advocacy group is pushing back against a proposal by the California Air Quality Control Board requiring railroads to purchase zero-emission trains, a move one organization has called “entirely workable.”

Last year, CARB voted in favor of a new rule requiring zero-emission train purchases would also force railroads to prematurely retire 25,000 diesel-powered trains, as the rule prohibits trains 23-years or older from operating in the state.

In her April 10 letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan, Washington Farm Bureau Federation President Rosella Mosby wrote that “allowing a single state to impose onerous mandates on a national system would have a ripple effect across the supply chain, creating inefficiencies and cost increases.”

According to the letter, imposing new mandates like this could negatively impact investments in Washington state on railway infrastructure; the past two transportation revenue packages include $200 million in railway improvement projects.

Two organizations have filed a lawsuit already against CARB, including the Association of American Railroads (AAR); the other plaintiff is the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA).

AAR has argued that “the industry is taking decisive action against climate change, including testing emerging technologies such as battery-electric and fuel-cell locomotives that may reduce GHG emissions and criteria pollutants. However, despite substantial investments and an industry-wide push to unlock a zero-emissions solution, a clear technological path has not emerged and will require additional research and development.”

Mosby’s letter states that “CARB officials have already recognized that compliance costs would cause many short line railroads to go out of business. If this scenario were to be realized, Washington farmers and ranchers would have no choice but to utilize fewer options at a greater cost and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Most states, including Washington do not have the electric infrastructure to meet current mandate.”

The most recent public hearing on CARB’s rule by EPA was March 20. The federal agency is accepting public comment through April 22, which can be submitted online.

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