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Editorial: California Legislature Must Extend Clean-air Checks to Trucks

June 20, 2019 | San Francisco Chronicle's Editorial Board | San Francisco Chronicle

Californians who endure the hassle and expense of having their vehicles smog-checked every other year might be surprised and irritated to learn that those big-rig diesels are exempt from such thorough scrutiny.

(Photo: Getty Images / iStockphoto)

Californians who endure the hassle and expense of having their vehicles smog-checked every other year might be surprised and irritated to learn that those big-rig diesels are exempt from such thorough scrutiny. Residents near ports, rail yards, warehouse hubs or highways with heavy truck traffic who are breathing the exhaust might be even more perturbed to know about the loophole in state law.

Senate Bill 210, authored by Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino (San Bernardino County), would close that gaping loophole. It would create a comprehensive inspection similar to the 35-year-old smog check on passenger vehicles for diesel trucks weighing more than 14,000 pounds. The smog certification would apply not only to heavy-duty trucks registered within the state, but to those that cross our borders.

“This is the most important air quality bill of the year,” said Bill Magavern, policy director for the Coalition for Clean Air.

Finally, compliance with clean-air standards would no longer be voluntary and subject to self reporting or notoriously spotty inspections of big rigs that are obviously spewing pollutants. It would come down to this: If you want to operate a heavy-duty truck in this state, it must meet emissions standards.

That concept should come across as neither novel nor unreasonable to the millions of California car and light-truck owners who know that they cannot obtain a vehicle registration without passing a smog test. Big rigs should be subjected to no less of a standard.

The push for SB210 has all the expected allies in the environmental and health communities: Sierra Club, American Lung Association, League of Conservation Voters, Public Health Institute. The list goes on.

The opposition list is shorter, however well connected. The California Trucking Association is worried about the potential of exorbitant fees; the California Farm Bureau Federation is worried about the tight timeline for compliance and how it might affect harvest schedules.

Continue reading the full editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle