Sens. Scott, Cruz, Colleagues Urge EPA to Reject California’s Attack on Railroads

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) joined Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee, in penning a letter with 30 of their Senate Republican colleagues to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan voicing their objection to a California climate change regulation targeting railroads. The new restriction would significantly burden commerce and threatens one of America’s cleanest and most efficient modes of transportation—rail.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is seeking a waiver from the EPA to enforce its In-Use Locomotive Regulation (California rule). The rule is not only extremely costly, but infeasible given the current state of technology. The senators asked the EPA to deny CARB’s request entirely.

The CARB rule would require zero-emission locomotives beginning in 2030 or 2035, depending on the type, and artificially cap the lifespan of diesel-electric locomotives. Zero-emission battery and hydrogen technology for freight locomotives is not mature, and full overhead electrification would be wildly cost-prohibitive. Because roughly half of all Class I freight locomotives pass through California each year, enforcement of this state rule would have national implications, including by CARB’s own admission, costs of at least $16 billion through 2050.

“The California rule is plainly unworkable. Railroads operating diesel-electric locomotives utilize, on average, just one gallon of fuel to move one ton of freight nearly 500 miles. This impressive efficiency is the result of substantial investments, from improved drive technology to increase the pulling capability of locomotives, to the use of software that optimizes operations, to supplementing traditional diesel-electric locomotives with a battery locomotive that can be recharged by storing energy when braking. Still, no economically-viable technology for full zero-emission operation on long haul service exists, short of the immense expense and infeasible logistics of running overhead electric wires across an entire network, which even CARB does not anticipate in its economic impact analysis. The most powerful battery locomotive in the world stores barely one-sixth of the energy a diesel-electric locomotive might use in one long-haul run, and current hydrogen technology lacks sufficient power, fueling infrastructure, and timely fueling capability,” the senators wrote.

“Allowing CARB to enforce the California rule would disrupt interstate commerce and drive prices higher. Railroad transportation is vital to our economy, accounting for roughly forty percent of long-distance freight. The costs of the California rule would be staggering: CARB acknowledges an impact on over 11,700 Class I locomotives, which is roughly half of the domestic Class I locomotive fleet, with compliance costs of nearly $16 billion through 2050.  The compliance sum is likely an underestimate of total economic impact, since some short line railroads would cease operations entirely.  Those costs and resultant reduction in competition would be passed on to shippers who, if not cut off from the railroad network entirely, would in turn pass increased expenses to consumers. This would place greater financial burdens on everyday Americans,” the senators continued.

The full text of this letter is available HERE.

Senators Scott and Cruz were joined in sending this letter by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Michael Crapo (R-Idaho), John Cornyn (R-Texas), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Todd Young (R-Ind.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), and Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.).