Electrification The Key for Cleaner Freight Transportation in California

A report released last week from the advocacy group California Cleaner Freight Coalition outlines solutions for overhauling the state’s freight system to protect public health, meet air quality standards and slow the pace of climate change. 

The new study commissioned by the California Cleaner Freight Coalition, Moving California Forward, Zero and Low-Emissions Freight Pathways, evaluates strategies for modernizing how goods are moved through California by evaluating alternatives to conventional diesel vehicles, the analysis aims to inform a statewide plan for cleaning up freight transportation.

The study found that deploying electric transportation technologies that are currently in development or demonstration for local and short-haul trips would provide the greatest overall reduction in pollutants, and could eliminate tailpipe emissions in communities impacted by freight movement. Moving goods by train and ship for regional trips could reduce emissions well beyond today’s cleanest diesel trucks.

Also, the study outlined ideas on transporting containers double-stacked on railcars powered by the cleanest locomotives to reduce particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, and greenhouse gas emissions by more than 75 percent. Compared to the newest trucks, transporting truck trailers on flatbed railcars through the San Joaquin Valley would significantly reduce emissions in a region that suffers from high levels of pollution.

“The cost of cleaning up the trucking and freight industry in California is nothing compared to the lost lives, elevated cancer risk, chronic respiratory conditions and other costs Californians have shouldered for years,” said Margaret Gordon, co-director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project.

“It is critical that California has a clear plan to clean up our freight industry in 2014,” said Jesse Marquez, executive director of Californians for a Safe Environment. “As our report shows, our air pollution problem is so bad that communities from around the state are uniting to take on the issue. Moving to electrification and zero emission transportation technologies can literally save lives.”

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