California Expands Emissions Testing With New $ 419 Million Center
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) – California on Thursday inaugurated a new $ 419 million research facility that will enable state air quality agencies to expand emissions testing for heavy duty vehicles such as trucks, buses and bulldozers.
The center in the city of Riverside will enable the emission tests of passenger cars to be carried out further to check the heavy vehicles. It replaces a nearly 50-year-old laboratory in nearby El Monte that state officials are credited with helping uncover the Volkswagen diesel emissions fraud scandal.
Until now, heavy-duty vehicles have not been examined as closely as passenger cars due to the limited capacity in the older laboratory, said Annette Hébert, deputy chief executive of the Southern California headquarters of the California Air Resources Board.
“As soon as I’ve got my laboratory going, I want to take a very specific look at some heavy-duty vehicles (vehicles),” said Hébert. “Part of the reason I worry about heavy goods vehicles (vehicles) is that we are unable to keep them at bay.”
The 402,000 square foot (37,347 square meter) facility will test emissions from cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, lawn mowers, marine engines, and other vehicles. Its testing capacity will be double that of the older lab for smaller vehicles like passenger cars and six times more for heavy duty vehicles, including buses and off-road equipment, agency officials said.
Hébert hopes the facility will also run battery tests on electric vehicles in the future to ensure they meet their life expectancy – another way to encourage Californians to embark on cleaner transportation.
California, home to around 40 million people, has long been considered a pioneer in regulating air pollution.
At an inauguration event Thursday for the emissions test center, local officials recalled growing up and living decades ago in a state where the skies were often too hazy to see nearby mountains and air quality warnings were the order of the day – something the state senator Richard Roth noted a case no longer exists in the Riverside County parishes he represents.
“Of course we still have a lot to do, but what an amazing result,” said Roth, a Democrat.
The state broke ground for the facility four years ago in the community 50 miles east of Los Angeles. A third of the construction costs were covered by the fines Volkswagen paid for fraud, according to the agency that oversees air pollution control efforts in California.
California’s environment secretary, Jared Blumenfeld, said the state continues to be seen as a leader in air pollution regulations and the fight against climate change, and it was no coincidence that the Volkswagen emissions scandal was discovered here.
“This is actually a building of resistance,” he said. “This is about getting up and saying, ‘We’ll take care of it. We’re going to fund the things that empirically show how pollution gets into the world, and we’re going to hold polluters accountable. “
Liane Randolph, Chair of the Air Resources Board, said the facility will help convert transportation to zero-emission technologies and protect communities that are badly affected by emissions from heavy haulage and freight traffic.
It’s not clear when the center, named after former chairman Mary D. Nichols, will start operating. The agency is currently completing projects at the El Monte facility, said Lynda Lambert, a spokeswoman for the agency.