California to expand emissions testing with new $ 419 million center

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) – California on Thursday inaugurated a new $ 419 million research facility that will allow state air quality regulators to expand emissions testing for heavy-duty vehicles like trucks, buses and bulldozers.

Riverside town center will allow more heavy vehicle testing in addition to passenger car emissions testing. It replaces a nearly 50-year-old lab near El Monte, which state officials have credited with helping uncover Volkswagen’s diesel emissions fraud scandal.

So far, heavy vehicles have not been subjected to the same level of scrutiny as passenger cars due to the limited capacity of the old lab, said Annette Hébert, deputy general manager of the Southern California headquarters. for the California Air Resources Board.

“As soon as I start my lab, there are very precisely certain heavy (vehicles) that I want to examine,” Hébert said. “Part of the reason I’m concerned about heavy goods vehicles (vehicles) is because of our lack of capacity to help keep them under control.”

The 402,000 square foot (37,347 square meters) facility will test for emissions from cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, lawn mowers, marine engines and other vehicles. Its testing capacity will be twice that of the old lab for small vehicles such as passenger cars and six times as much for heavy vehicles, including buses and off-road equipment, officials said. ‘agency.

Going forward, Hébert said she hopes the facility will also conduct battery tests on electric vehicles to make sure they meet their lifespan – another way to encourage Californians to adopt cleaner transport.

California, home to about 40 million people, has long been considered a leader in clean air regulation.

At a dedication event Thursday for the Emissions Testing Center, local officials recalled growing up and living decades ago in a state where the skies were often too foggy to see the mountains nearby and where air quality warnings were rife – what State Senator Richard Roth noted is no longer the case in the Riverside County communities he represents.

“Obviously we have a lot more work to do, but what an incredible result,” said Roth, a Democrat.

The state opened the facility four years ago in the community 50 miles east of Los Angeles. A third of the construction cost was covered by fines paid by Volkswagen in the fraud case, according to the agency, which oversees air pollution control efforts in California.

Jared Blumenfeld, California Secretary for Environmental Protection, said the state continues to be viewed as a leader in regulating air pollution and addressing climate change and that it is not a coincidence if the Volkswagen emissions scandal was detected here.

“It’s actually a resistance building,” he said. “It’s about standing up and saying, ‘We care. 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, who chairs the air resources council, said the facility will help shift transportation to zero-emission technologies and protect communities heavily impacted by emissions from heavy truck traffic and freight transportation.

It is not known when the center, named after former board chair Mary D. Nichols, will begin operating. The agency is currently finalizing projects at the El Monte site, said Lynda Lambert, a spokesperson for the agency.

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