Southern California has adopted a new air pollution rule aimed at slashing noxious emissions from warehouse trucks that move goods sold by Amazon and other e-commerce retailers. Ars Technica reports: Diesel pollution from heavy trucks causes everything from asthma to heart attacks, and even Parkinson’s disease. Previously, such pollution tended to be concentrated around shipping ports and highways, but the growth of e-commerce has created a new source that is affecting neighborhoods farther inland. There are nearly 34,000 warehouses enclosing 1.17 billion square feet of space in the Los Angeles region alone. The rule, which was adopted late last week by a 9-4 vote of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), would cover around 3,300 warehouses that are larger than 100,000 square feet. The rule seeks to reduce the amount of diesel particulate matter and nitrogen oxides produced by trucks serving these facilities. The district covers more than 17 million people, or nearly half the state’s population.
The way the South Coast AQMD is approaching warehouse-related pollution is novel. Rather than attempting to control traffic flow to and from the facilities, the regulator will require warehouse owners to take various steps to reduce pollution in the area. That could include buying electric or fuel-cell trucks, adding solar panels to the building roofs, or installing air filters at nearby homes, hospitals, and schools. Each of these measures is assigned a point value, and warehouse operators must achieve a certain total to offset the emissions from their truck traffic. If they cannot meet the goal through mitigation measures, they can pay a fee instead. South Coast AQMD is phasing in compliance depending on the size of the facility. Warehouses that are over 250,000 square feet must meet their goals by June 30, 2022. Warehouses over 150,000 square feet must comply by the same day the following year, and those over 100,000 square feet get until June 30, 2024. Amazon’s typical warehouses, for example, range in size from 600,000 to 1 million square feet. […] The new rule is expected to save 150 to 300 lives and prevent 2,500 to 5,800 asthma attacks between 2022 and 2031. Overall, the public health benefits could be as large as $2.7 billion over the same timeframe.
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