Commentary: Dump the Diesel Dust

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, May 25, 2007

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve marveled at the sight of construction equipment. Big, brawny machines. Bulldozers, backhoes and scrapers.

Yet there’s one thing I don’t like about these machines – their diesel smoke. This stuff is nasty. It’s a kind of soot that can dig deep into your lungs. Scientists say it causes thousands of asthma attacks each year, and is especially dangerous for children.

Starting today, the California Air Resources Board meets to discuss rules for reducing this pollution. The rules call for contractors and public utilities to gradually replace or retrofit about 180,000 pieces of equipment over the next 13 years.

Thirteen years is a long time, but it’s not long enough for the construction industry. They want an extra five years to meet the standards – in other words, until 2025.

This is ridiculous. California has retrofitted school buses and transit buses. We’re preparing to spend billions of dollars on highway and flood control projects which will benefit the construction industry. Shouldn’t we be asking them for something in return?


Stuart Leavenworth writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages.