In response to California regulators’ concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency stated Wednesday that it will examine adopting stricter regulations on locomotive emissions.
According to the EPA, a team has been established to assess whether the agency needs to revise the locomotive pollution standards it set in 2008. The team will also examine what the agency can do for railroads in order to encourage them to upgrade their locomotives.
The EPA stated that it acknowledges that, even though 2008 regulations set strict standards for new locomotives in the industry, railroad workhorses still contribute significant amounts of particulate matter to the atmosphere and nitrous oxide because they often remain in service for many decades. These emissions can lead to increased cancer risk and other health problems, especially in areas near railyards.
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Diesel exhaust can carry tiny particles that can reach deep into the lungs. These particles are linked to lung disease, cancer, heart attack, and other diseases.
The EPA announced this new initiative in response to petitions submitted by several California-based agencies which regulate pollution in 2016 and 2017.
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U.S. Senator Alex Padilla from California stated that he is grateful to the EPA for taking a closer view at locomotive emissions.
Padilla stated that “workers and residents near ports and industrial railway yards have been exposed to more air pollution for many decades and are now at greater risk of respiratory diseases and death.”
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The Association of American Railroads spokeswoman said that the railroad industry has been working with regulators at the EPA, other agencies, for many years and that they welcome the opportunity to continue the conversation about setting goals to reduce the emissions of locomotives.