Judge upholds ban on diesel fleets

The Associated Press
Friday August 24, 2001

LOS ANGELES — The South Coast Air Quality Management District can continue its ban on diesel vehicles in public fleets after a federal judge upheld the air quality agency’s policy on Thursday. 

A lawsuit filed by the Engine Manufacturers Association and the Western States Petroleum Association claimed the agency’s rules violated the federal Clean Air Act, but U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper ruled against the associations. 

The Clean Air Act prohibits state or local governments from imposing standards relating to controlling emissions from new motor vehicles. 

“The judge basically determined this is a rule that did not impose any requirements on engine manufacturers,” said Barbara Baird, attorney for the AQMD. 

Under the agency’s current rules, public entities with fleets of 15 or more vehicles must purchase alternative-fuel vehicles when expanding or making replacements to their fleets. 

The rules are aimed at cutting diesel exhaust, a major source of toxic air pollution and oxides of nitrogen that lead to asthma-inducing smog. Even the cleanest diesel systems produce more oxides of nitrogen than natural gas. 

The regulation would cover government agencies from the city to federal level, school districts and universities and transit districts in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. 

Vehicles that carry people or cargo in and out of the region’s airports, including taxis and shuttles, are also included in the plan. But it exempts police cars and other emergency vehicles.