Gov. Gavin Newsom today signed into law Senate Bill 44, “Ditching Dirty Diesel,” by state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley. SB 44 will help California move away from pollution-spewing, petroleum-diesel trucks and accelerate the transition to zero emission fuels and technologies for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.
“Tailpipe pollution from petroleum diesel is bad for our health. That’s especially true for West Oakland and Richmond neighborhoods near ports and trucking routes where childhood asthma rates are far higher than neighborhoods just half a mile away,” Skinner said. “SB 44 will clean up our air and protect families and children.”
SB 44 won approval in the state Assembly on a 63-12 vote, and the state Senate gave its final OK to the bill on a 30-9 vote. The new law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020.
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. According to a 2019 report by the American Lung Association, California is home to six of the 10 worst areas nationwide for year-round particle pollution. The Bay Area is sixth worst.
“Diesel exhaust is toxic to humans, causing cancer, asthma, and other illnesses. California has taken many steps to reduce diesel emissions from trucks and buses, but we must do much more, because our state still suffers from by far the worst air pollution in the entire country. We thank Sen. Skinner for authoring SB 44, which will give us a strategy for replacing dirty diesel vehicles with cleaner alternatives,” said Bill Magavern, policy director of the Coalition for Clean Air, a co-sponsor of the bill.
Transitioning off of petroleum diesel will also enable California to meet its climate goals faster. The state’s transportation sector creates nearly half of our greenhouse gas emissions, and diesel trucks and buses account for 20% of 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 allow California 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.
Combined with $182 million of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds in California’s 2019-20 budget, SB 44 will also jumpstart the state’s investment in non-polluting, medium- and heavy-duty vehicle technologies.
“There’s still a long way to go achieve California’s air quality and climate protection goals,” Skinner added. “To meet either requires moving off of dirty petroleum diesel. SB 44 will put us on that path.”
Sen. Nancy Skinner represents the 9th Senate District.