State air regulators today will consider loosening rules for soot and other air pollution from construction equipment, trucks and other heavy vehicles. The proposal could pit industries against one another.
The air quality rules cover most heavy machinery with diesel engines. The state Air Resources Board has set deadlines to cut soot that can cause health problems, and to limit emissions like nitrogen oxide that contribute to global warming.
Construction and transportation companies have complained that the cost of meeting those deadlines is too high. So regulators have proposed easing the rules.
They say that giving companies more time to comply won’t prevent California from meeting its long-term goals for cleaner air and lower greenhouse gas emissions. But public health activists say current levels of dirty air cause thousands of premature deaths each year.
Companies that make air filters to clean up diesel pollution say delayed deadlines that could help construction businesses could harm the state’s growing cleantech industry. Makers of clean diesel technology point out that they bring hundreds of millions of dollars in investment and thousands of jobs to the state.