Will California crack down on rail-yard pollution?


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Will California crack down on toxic pollution from rail yards? Community and public health groups are planning a demonstration at Friday’s Air Resources Board meeting in Diamond Bar to demand that the state enact tough regulations on California’s 18 rail yards.

Trucks, trains and cargo-handling equipment spewing diesel emissions in the yards have caused high cancer risks, according to recent studies.


Southern California authorities passed anti-idling rules on locomotives three years ago, but Union Pacific Railway and BNSF Railway got them overturned in court.

Railroads contend that state and local authorities have little power over them because they are part of the federally regulated interstate commerce system. They have signed voluntary agreements to reduce their pollution in California.

But community groups such as the Commerce-based East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice want the state to subsidize the purchase of cleaner locomotives and enact strict anti-idling rules. Rail yard gates, where trucks idle in long lines, should be relocated away from schools and homes, they say.

The Air Resources Board will examine detailed options at its meeting and hear testimony from the public and the railroads.

Environmental justice groups are battling pollution not just from rail yards but from the massive goods movement activities at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, which handle 40% of the nation’s containerized imports. Read more and watch the video above.

--Margot Roosevelt