A new study by UC Berkeley scientists found that toxic emissions in California decreased by 78% since 1990. Specifically, the researchers found that diesel exhaust fumes decreased dramatically between the 1990-2014 study period. The study was published last month in the journal Sciences.
Due to California’s strict air pollution control policies, deaths attributed to diesel emissions were reduced by 82% during this period. Diesel exhaust gases contain various pollutants, such as fine particles that get trapped in the lungs and move into the bloodstream. Small pieces of soot and other pollutants can cause lung cancer, heart attacks and asthma.
The researchers saw a significant drop in deaths from heart and lung disease caused by diesel fumes in the study. They estimate that if California complied with federal laws regulations 1,330 Californians alone would have died in 2014 due to diesel emissions. This is more than 50% more than the estimated total of 596. Estimates come from studies linking pollution to an increase in premature deaths.
Federal environmental regulations in place between 1990 and 2014 led to a 51% drop in diesel particulate matter nationwide. The policies called for cleaner-burning fuels and engines for vehicles such as buses, trucks, trains, ships, and heavy machinery. However, since California is consistently making headlines in have the worst air quality in the country, state policymakers set even higher standards.
When the Clean Air Act was passed, Congress gave California the authority to set its own emission standards. It became the first state in the nation to have its own vehicle escape rules. California began tackling the dangerous smog that engulfed its major cities in the 1940s. When a scientist determined that tailpipe emissions were causing the smog, the state began enforcing vehicle exhaust rules.
California paves the way to reduce toxic greenhouse gas emissions.
Since California set the standard for combating air pollution, Congress granted it an exception when the Clean Air Act was passed. When lawmakers revised the Clean Air Act to prevent states from setting their own rules on vehicle emissions, they exempted California. Congress ordered the EPA to grant California an exemption if its rules are as strict or stricter as federal regulations. EPA can deny the exemption only if the state does not demonstrate a “compelling need” for one.
“… The state of California has continued to reduce emissions of DPM from mobile sources by using the state’s authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to regulate air pollution more strictly than the federal government,” the authors write. Article.
“Our analysis of DPM emissions from mobile sources suggests that many California sectoral policies have been highly effective relative to the rest of the US In improving health in communities disproportionately affected by these emissions, we point to opportunities to further reduce DPM emissions in California, in the US more widely, and in parts of the world where countries have less aggressive vehicle emissions policies than the US. “
Clearly, California’s policies have been effective in reducing emissions in the state. Despite a 20% increase in overall diesel fuel use during the study period, California outperformed emission cuts. This shows that regulations requiring cleaner combustion engines have paid off.
How Stringent Diesel Exhaust Regulations Have Dramatically Reduced Emissions
- The researchers determined that the largest reductions in pollution came from commercial trucks and buses. The scientists attributed this primarily to state policies that required the replacement and modernization of older engines.
- California air also improved due to stricter regulations on marine exhaust gases. Under the new rules, ships within 24 nautical miles of the coast must have cleaner-burning fuel. Also, certain types of ships must shut down their engines or capture their pollution when docking. Due to these new regulations, marine diesel soot was reduced by 51% between 2008 and 2014, the study authors reported. Given that California contains two of the busiest ports in the country, this makes a dramatic difference. Half of the state’s air pollution comes solely from freight transportation.
- Although agricultural equipment represents 18% of the diesel pollution of vehicles, it was reduced by only 1%. Study author Megan Schwarzman says state policies can only accomplish so much until we stop burning fossil fuels altogether.
It doesn’t end there
However, the state plans to pass more laws to reduce emissions. In fact, Governor Newsom signed an executive order Ban the sale of fossil fuel powered vehicles. by 2035. This would result in a reduction of more than 35% in greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the Air Resources Board will issue mandates for all medium and heavy duty vehicles to be zero emissions by 2045.
This is the first regulation of its kind in the world. Under the new policies, 5 to 9% of trucks should be zero emissions by 2025. By 2035, 55% of delivery trucks and large vans should go zero emissions. This also applies to 75% of school buses, garbage trucks, and other large vehicles and 40% of large rigs in California.
Other states have been lobbying the federal government to tighten regulations on vehicle emissions. Many well-known environmental groups wrote to the Biden administration last month encouraging stricter emissions regulations on large trucks. 14 other states and the District of Columbia are committed to following California’s lead in eradicating diesel emissions by 2050.
Final Thoughts: California Reduced Toxic Emissions by 78% Over the Past 25 Years
In a new study, scientists and California state agencies found that diesel emissions have dropped by 78% since 1990. This is due in large part to the strict regulations in place that limit emissions from vehicles. Since California has more registered cars than any other state, it is critical to reduce emissions whenever possible.
These policies have also led to 82% fewer deaths attributed to toxic diesel pollution. Since 1990, deaths from heart attacks and lung cancer caused by exhaust gases have dropped dramatically. California continues to set the standard for emissions reduction with the ambitious goal of fully electric vehicles by 2050. Hopefully, more states will follow suit, as reducing greenhouse gas emissions is vital to protecting our planet.