California panel approves voluntary rail emission cuts

State air regulators have approved a set of voluntary pollution cuts at four rail yards in Southern California despite overwhelming objections from residents, local air regulators, port officials and environmental groups who called the agreement weak.

The California Air Resources Board has been working on reducing pollution from rail yards for over a decade. The plan approved Thursday could reduce 2005 emission levels by 85 percent by 2020.

The targeted yards are in San Bernardino, Long Beach and the city of Commerce southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Public comment at the meeting in Sacramento was overwhelmingly opposed to the agreement, with some community members weeping as they recalled friends and family members with health problems believed connected to pollution.

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