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Costly air regulations expected to be approved

December 12, 2008 | 10:54 am

Angry truckers fearing bankruptcy and beleaguered farmworkers and urbanites sickened by pollution descended on Sacramento today for a showdown over the state’s controversial crackdown on diesel emissions.

The California Air Resources Board is expected today to adopt the most costly regulation in its history, requiring about 600,000 long-haul trucks to be retrofitted or replaced, cutting emissions that cause cancer, respiratory and heart disease.

The rule would cost $5.5 billion, of which $1 billion would be provided in government subsidies, but many truckers say they will be bankrupted by the requirements and called for a delay, given the dire state of the economy.

Regulators said the rule would save Californians up to $68 billion in health-related costs in the first 15 years.

Heavy-duty rigs are responsible for a third of all the smog in California. State officials project that the new rule would save 9,400 lives between 2010, when it takes effect, and 2025. With tens of thousands of hospital admissions linked to air pollution, Californians would save up to $68 billion in healthcare costs in the first 15 years, according to economists for the air board.

-- Margot Roosevelt

Photo: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times