As LA Metro ponders a possible measure for the 2016 ballot the agency has received clear and compelling advice from 6 former heads of California‘s Environmental Protection Agency: Make it your mission to reduce emissions from diesel trucks, the single most pernicious and largest remaining source of air pollution in SoCal. Imagine Southern California not as the region with the worst air in America but as the place where the air quality problem was solved! If we do it in LA, we also do it for California. And if we do it for California, we do it for the nation—and the world. Read their letter HERE.
We think these air quality experts are right—that Metro is the only agency capable of finally cleaning up Southern California’s air. What has worked in the past is when public agencies co-invest in clean technology with the private sector—a strategy that has resulted in the development of near-zero- and zero-emission electric engines, ultra-clean natural gas engines, and advanced fuel cell technology in California.
What’s missing now is a long-term revenue stream to provide for the co-investment that could push deployment and the economies of scale over the 30 or 40 years it takes to build a real market. Metro could help by rolling out buses with the most advanced technology—the very same engines and powertrains used in trucks—and the ballot measure could provide the long-term revenue stream.
The manufacturers and operators of these clean trucks and buses, which can last 40 years, need to know that together we are committed to these new technologies and have the resources to meet this long-lived challenge. Federal and state funding sources—which are determined by politics and leadership changes in Congress and the Legislature—can’t provide that certainty. It can only be provided by a voter-approved revenue measure and no other public agency—not the South Coast Air Quality Management District and not the Southern California Association of Governments—has the authority that Metro has to put a 30- or 40-year measure on the ballot.