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Arizona lawmaker joins others in warning of proposed California locomotive rule

The Republican lawmaker warned that it could also have serious supply chain implications.

Published: April 19, 2024 5:04pm

(The Center Square) -

Arizona state Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, voiced opposition to a proposed Environmental Protection Agency waiver that could impact locomotives.

The waiver would allow the California Air Resources Board to require trains to meet zero-emissions standards, a goal many California leaders have been pushing for with all different kinds of transportation. The reason why it’s a matter of the EPA and not just the state is because of the implications the standards would have on the whole country as trains frequently transport to other states.

Cook chairs Arizona's House Transportation Committee.

“This proposal will have far-reaching effects here in Arizona, potentially upending the rail industry in our state,” Cook wrote in a letter to EPA administrator Michael Regan on Tuesday.

The Republican lawmaker warned that it could also have serious supply chain implications.

“This rule threatens Arizona’s railways and our supply chain by imposing extreme financial and operational burdens on railroads, especially smaller operators, by requiring the retirement of over 25,000 locomotives aged 23 years or older,” he continued. “This mandate overlooks the long-term nature of locomotive investments and the interconnected nature of our country’s rail network. This would create a fragmented rail network that could jeopardize the supply chain, place an undue burden on rail companies, and drive-up costs.”

Cook is far from the first voice to oppose the policy. The Center Square reported that the Washington Farm Bureau has raised concerns, and a group of U.S. senators recently asked the EPA to not allow CARB to require the standards.

“CARB has stated its goal is to force the railroads to convert their national fleets to the currently unavailable and untested zero-emission locomotives. The [Clean Air Act] does not grant EPA the authority to allow states to mandate specifications for the design and manufacture of locomotives – which is precisely what CARB seeks in its authorization request,” the senators wrote in a letter, which included 11 Republican senators and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

In addition, the United States Chamber of Commerce warned that it could create more traffic on roads if increased regulation impacts the supply chain.

The Parker Pioneer reported that the regulations were approved in April 2023, and CARB argues that it would ultimately benefit the public.

“The Regulation will help meet California’s public health, air quality and climate goals by reducing criteria pollutants, toxic air contaminants, and greenhouse gas emissions for locomotives in-use,” the board’s website states.

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