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Will Smog Checks For Big Rig Trucks Slow The Inland Empire's Logistics Economy?

Rachel Haller

State Senator Connie Leyva (D- Chino) has introduced legislation requiring smog checks for big rig trucks.  However, some say that will slow down the Inland Empire's logistics industry.  KVCR's Benjamin Purper reports.

SB210 would require any big rig trucks moving through or coming into California to be smog-checked annually. Senator Leyva says that the bill would remove about 1,600 tons of harmful particulate matter from the air over the next decade.

Leyva: “We have about 1 million heavy-duty diesels that operate in California annually, and for my district, we have more warehouses than any place else in the country, so the amount of trucks that are going through the region are significant, and the pollutants that they emit, we do know cause cancer and asthma.”

But not everyone thinks requiring big rig trucks to go through smog checks is a good idea.    

Derek Hussey shows me around his garage in Grand Terrace. He’s a diesel mechanic, which means he works on motorhomes and big rig trucks for a living.

I asked Hussey whether he would support a bill requiring smog checks for big rigs.

Hussey: “I would definitely not support it. It's obvious that they're trying to get them off the road.”

Hussey says the bill would put truckers out of work if their trucks don’t pass.

Hussey: “If it doesn't pass, and then you're pretty much screwed for the time it's off the road. Like you're not making any money. If anything you're losing money trying to get it repaired.”

Inland Empire economist John Husing worries that regulation like this could slow down the flow of goods through the Inland Empire.

Husing: “You know, one of these days somebody in the legislature is going to understand that this economy out here really is fundamentally dependent upon the logistics for its job growth and quit trying to figure out ways to hurt it.”

Husing says he supports big rig trucks being smogged – but not if it takes them off the road.

Husing: “If she's proposing to pull them off the road, then that would have a major effect of slowing down the movement of cargo and making this area un-competitive.”

Senator Leyva disagrees.

Leyva: “The consumer demand in California is extraordinary. This is absolutely not going to slow down movement of goods, this is just going to make it cleaner.”

Leyva says the bill could take trucks off the road temporarily. But only until they can be repaired to pass a smog check.

Leyva: “It could take trucks off the road if they don't meet the standard, if they don't pass the smog check, but our intention is if they don't pass the smog check the first time, they just have to fix that and then they'll be back on the road.”

The California Trucking Association seems to be on board with Leyva’s plan. In a statement, CEO Shawn Yadon says California truckers have already invested more than 1 billion dollars annually on emission reduction technologies, and that a small group of gross emitters contribute the majority of the remaining pollution.

He added that the association looks “forward to reviewing Senator Leyva’s proposal and hope to identify gross emitters without further burdening compliant truckers.”

SB 210 will be considered by a Senate committee later this spring.

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