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AQMD considering agreement with railroad companies to reduce emissions

The South Coast Air Quality Management District argues that an agreement with Union Pacific and BNSF Railway will bolster already existing regulations. The agency recently held a meeting to take questions and concerns from the community. But, residents say they don’t agree with the AQMD’s approach.
Anthony Victoria
/
KVCR News
The South Coast Air Quality Management District argues that an agreement with Union Pacific and BNSF Railway will bolster already existing regulations. The agency recently held a meeting to take questions and concerns from the community. But, residents say they don’t agree with the AQMD’s approach.

Southern California’s air regulator is discussing a potential agreement with railroad companies to help reduce emissions in communities near railyards. Some residents are worried that an agreement won’t change anything.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District argues that an agreement with Union Pacific and BNSF Railway will bolster already existing regulations.

The AQMD could require railyards to switch to zero-emission technology. In the coming years, electric yard trucks, forklifts, and locomotives may become increasingly widespread.

Instead of using a regulatory approach, such as an indirect source rule, to force railyard companies to comply, the air district says establishing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) may yield higher emissions reductions over the next decade.

They also argue that such an agreement has the potential to deliver community benefits to residents that prioritizes workplace benefits and preventative health measures.

The agency recently held a meeting to take questions and concerns from the community. But, residents say they don’t agree with the AQMD’s approach.

Ana Gonzales is with the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice and a longtime Rialto resident. She says she doesn’t trust railroad companies.

"We’re here to say that you’re not welcome here in these spaces because you don’t want the best for this community," she said.

A Union Pacific spokesperson says the company is listening to the community’s concerns and will continue to attend upcoming meetings.

The AQMD did not respond to a request for comment. They plan to release a draft agreement later this month.

Residents who look to submit public comment on the potential agreement can email AQMD Assistant Deputy Executive Officer Ian McMillan at imacmillan@aqmd.gov.