California’s proposed CARB rules for rail are a costly tax on consumers

Washington, D.C. – Tomorrow, the US House Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on the status of the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) In Use Locomotive Regulation. The Environmental Protection Agency is due to issue a waiver to allow the state to proceed with this plan.

State regulators want to mandate unreasonable climate standards on rail cars, as well as mandatory spending accounts that will end up costing both rail firms and the consumers who rely on them to transport their goods. This will further inflate prices across the economy while providing no useful benefits for the climate or consumers.

Yaël Ossowski of the Consumer Choice Center recently authored a policy primer on “The Consumer Case for Reimagining and Innovating Railroad Policy” with several policy suggestions for modernizing state and federal rules on rail firms.

He had this to say about the upcoming hearing in Congress, “We desperately need to think beyond emissions mandates and caps as a way to regulate vital industries that power our economy, and luckily Congress recognizes this. There  are more innovative ways to craft railroad policy for the 21st century beyond punitive and unworkable mandates that force climate agendas without understanding how they impact consumers of modest means. We should respect the principles of technology neutrality and innovation that will help speed along an energy transition faster than rules from bureaucracies. The rule as proposed by California’s environmental regulators, would do the opposite.”

In regulatory comments provided to the EPA, the Consumer Choice Center made the case against the California rule that would have ripple effects on the entire economy.

“Beyond the dubious legal and jurisdictional circumstances that propel this proposed state regulation,” said Yaël Ossowski, “We believe it would also serve to negatively harm consumers who will suffer from higher prices on end goods, fewer innovations in transportation generally because of the massive compliance costs, and would end up acquiescing most of our nation’s environmental policies to a few partisan regulators in our most populous state – policies that do more harm than good.”

The Consumer Choice Center recently published a policy primer that examines similar regulations proposed at the federal level that would also undermine innovation in the rail sector and likely result in higher costs of transportation that would be passed onto consumers.

“Rather than impose unworkable and costly environmental regulations on railroads, Americans deserve innovative railroad policies that increase competition, generate investment, and ensure that lower costs can be passed down to consumers who rely on rail for their homes and businesses. 

The current framework of the California Air Resources Board’s locomotive rules stands against the principles of consumer choice, innovation, and the American system of competition. We are glad Congress will now have the opportunity to examine it as well.”

About the Consumer Choice Center:

The Consumer Choice Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending the rights of consumers around the world. Our mission is to promote freedom of choice, healthy competition, and evidence-based policies that benefit consumers. We work to ensure that consumers have access to a variety of quality products and services and can make informed decisions about their lifestyle and consumption. 

Find out more at www.consumerchoicecenter.org

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