California Legislature Passes SB 44, “Ditching Dirty Diesel”

September 11, 2019

The California Legislature has approved SB 44, “Ditching Dirty Diesel,” by state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley. SB 44 is designed to incentivize the move away from pollution-belching, petroleum-diesel trucks and speed the transition to zero emission fuels and technologies for medium and heavy duty vehicles.

“Families and children living near ports and trucking routes, like many neighborhoods in West Oakland and Richmond, are especially harmed by diesel emissions,” Skinner said. “Air pollution particularly associated with diesel emissions increases the risks for asthma, especially for kids, and childhood asthma rates in Richmond and West Oakland are far higher than in other parts of California.”

The state Assembly approved SB 44 on a 63-12 vote, and the state Senate gave its final OK on the bill on a 30-9 vote. SB 44 now goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom for consideration.

Moving away from petroleum diesel will also help California meet its climate goals quicker. The transportation sector generates nearly half of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, and diesel trucks and buses account for 20% of those transportation-related GHGs.

SB 44 would require the California Air Resources Board, by Jan. 2021, to create a comprehensive strategy for deploying medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that will put California in a position to finally meet federal ambient air quality standards. SB 44 also requires CARB to establish goals and spur technology advancements for reducing GHG emissions from the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sectors by 2030 and 2050.

Statewide, vehicles fueled by petroleum-based diesel produce one-third of smog-causing pollution emissions. And these same vehicles emit more particulate matter than all of California’s fossil-fueled power plants combined. Since 1998, CARB has recognized diesel particulate matter as a toxic air contaminant based on the relationship between diesel exhaust and lung cancer.

According to a 2019 report by the American Lung Association, six of the 10 most polluted areas nationwide for year-round particle pollution are in California. The Bay Area ranks sixth worst.

“SB 44, combined with $182 million of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds that were included in California’s 2019-20 budget, will boost the state’s commitment and investment in non-polluting medium- and heavy-duty vehicle technologies,” Skinner added.


Sen. Nancy Skinner represents the 9th Senate District.