California's New Budget Delays Regulation of Deadly Diesel Pollution


Photo via Chemically Green

California finally passed its budget after months of ugly stalemate in the state legislature—but it might've come at the cost of preserving the Golden State's air quality. It turns out that a much overlooked measure in the proposed budget will save construction companies millions of dollars—and drastically weaken air pollution rules. A Pollution Provision
The Los Angeles Times explains that in the haste to get the bill passed, many overlooked a measure that will severely cut into the emission reduction goals many Californians deem vital to the state's future. The measure in the budget

would delay requirements for builders to retrofit bulldozers, scrapers and other soot-spewing equipment, slashing by 17% the emissions savings that health advocates had hoped to achieve by 2014.

That's some pretty hefty emitting that's going to go unregulated. So hefty, in fact, that some argue that passing the measure is just short of murder. "There are people who will die because of this delay," said Mary D. Nichols, chairman of the state Air Resources Board.

A Matter of Life and Death?
A law passed in 2007 required all off road diesel equipment to be retrofitted to curb emissions. The construction industry has lobbied ever since to delay the retrofitting, arguing that the labor-intensive projects will stifle small business and lead to job loss. The law has languished ever since, and now, apparently it will go right on languishing—at the peril of those in the vicinity of the diesel machines.

According to the Times,

Diesel machines are responsible each year for an estimated 1,100 premature deaths, more than 1,000 hospitalizations for heart and lung disease, and tens of thousands of asthma attacks in California, according to the Air Resources Board.

And the kicker is, that while there would certainly be hardship for some small business, the retrofitting would create jobs, not make them disappear. By some estimates, for every 5 pieces of equipment needing retrofitting, one new job is created.

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Tags: Air Pollution | California | Diesel | Pollution