Now California Seeks to Eliminate all US Locomotives!

PUBLISHER’S NOTE (Mike Stenhouse): The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has agreed to co-sign the national coalition letter to the EPA (see below). For years, the Center has raised awareness about the folly of the Electric Vehicle mandates proposed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which, by law, our Ocean State must adhere to. 

Now, CARB is seeking to eliminate diesel-fuel powered locomotives … or force railroad companies to convert them to all-electric … an unpractical and currently unachievable mandate … a move that will add to inflation by driving up product prices and reducing supply-chain efficiencies and product availability.

The Left’s assault on the finances of American families continues.

Our coalition letter opposes this absolutely ludicrous regulation from California, which mandates all rail operations to be “zero emissions” by 2035.  The proposed regulation also requires railroads to deposit massive sums of money into an escrow account each year to meet the fanciful demand: For large railroad operators in CA, this deposit is estimated to run as high as $800 Million per railroad per year beginning in 2026.

And, as we have come to expect from environmental zealots, the technology does not currently exist for a a “zero emissions” (ZE) locomotive that can replace diesel on America’s railroad tracks, which economically move so many goods across our country in an environmentally sound way. Under this new rule, many more goods will be forced to be moved on less-efficient and higher-emissions trucks, which by the way, are also a ZE target of the EPA.

How can our economy and families survive such a broad and all-out assault on free-commerce in America by the Left?


April 8, 2024

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPA Docket Center
Office of Air and Radiation
Docket EPA-HQ-OAR-2023-0574
Mail Code 28221T
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20460

Subject: Opposition to the California Air Resources Board In-Use Locomotive Regulation

Administrator Reagan,

We, the undersigned individuals, and representatives of state public policy organizations, write to you today to express our strong opposition to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) rule targeting the freight rail industry. We believe this CARB rule, now under review by your agency as it pursues a waiver, poses significant threats to the engines of our economy and the broader supply chain. State economies could be particularly affected, as well as infrastructure and supply chains that vary by location.

The CARB rule suffers from several critical and fatal flaws.

Namely, it unfairly burdens the freight rail industry and their customers without acknowledging the limitations of current technologies. The rule fails to consider the ongoing challenges and complexities faced by the industry to convert or eliminate locomotives when the feasibility, practicality, and technology do not exist. CARB’s lack of meaningful consultation and dialogue with key stakeholders, including railroads, shippers, and stakeholders, is evident with the drafting and implementation of this arbitrary and misguided rule.

Furthermore, the CARB rule significantly underestimates its potential negative impact on commerce and consumers. By unfairly and unjustly targeting the freight rail industry, this regulation is likely to inflate costs for businesses and shippers that rely on rail transportation. These increased costs will inevitably translate to higher prices for American consumers who are already burdened with record inflation.

Diesel locomotives are critical components of the nation’s transportation network and should be celebrated as an environmental success story. They facilitate the safe and efficient movement of essential commodities, goods, and products, from agriculture to automobiles. In fact, the freight rail industry has invested billions of dollars to modernize and upgrade their fleet to reduce emissions through voluntary initiatives, resulting in substantial reductions in emissions. The proposed CARB rule, with its additional regulatory burdens, could be counterproductive to this effort.


In addition to the economic and environmental concerns outlined above, the CARB rule threatens to disrupt the efficiency and flow of the entire nation’s supply chain. This could lead to increased delivery delays and disruptions, inefficiencies, and inequities across state lines, and impede industry-leading technological innovations and investment.

Critically for this group of signers, if the EPA rubber stamps this rule, it could effectively set a precedent that allows one state to unilaterally dictate environmental and transportation policy for the other 49 states. One state should not be empowered – explicitly or implicitly – to dictate policy for the rest of the country. This is the opposite of federalism.

We believe that environmental protection should be balanced with the need for a robust and resilient transportation system that supports economic growth and future prosperity. This CARB rule, as it stands, tilts the scales dangerously out of balance as it cripples one of our nation’s economic engines.

We urge the EPA to unequivocally reject the proposed CARB rule and safeguard the interests of our citizens, our commerce, and our communities.

Thank you for your time and consideration of our comments.



Stephanie Smith, President & CEO Alabama Policy Institute

Lance Christensen, Vice President, Education Policy & Government Affairs California Policy Center

Garrett Ballengee, President & CEO Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy

André J. Béliveau, Senior Manager of Energy Policy Commonwealth Foundation

Tim Hoefer, CEO Empire Center for Public Policy

Kyle Wingfield, President & CEO Georgia Public Policy Foundation

Heather Curry, Director of Strategic Engagement Goldwater Institute for Public Policy

Ronald M. Nate, Ph.D., President Idaho Freedom Foundation

C.J. Szafir, CEO Institute for Reforming Government

Lindsay Killen, Vice President of National Strategy James Madison Institute

Matthew Gagnon, CEO Maine Policy Institute

Douglas Carswell, CEO Mississippi Center for Public Policy

Jason Mercier, Vice President and Director of Research Mountain States Policy Institute

John Tsarpalas, President Nevada Policy Research Institute

Daniel J. Erspamer, CEO Pelican Institute for Public Policy

Jim Vokal, CEO Platte Institute for Public Policy

Mike Stenhouse, Founder & CEO Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity

Paul Gessing, President Rio Grande Foundation

Bette Grande, Co-Founder & CEO Rough Rider Policy Center

Derrick Max, President Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

Mandy Ludke, Executive Director Wyoming Liberty Group

Carol Platt Liebau, CEO Yankee Institute for Public Policy

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