California Legislature Must Act to Regulate Mobile Fueling and Support Public Health
By Joseph Okpaku
California is recognized globally as a leader in climate change action. After reaching 2020 reduction goals four years ahead of schedule, they have recently announced the ambitious goal of reducing emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
To reach these goals, the California legislature must act on every opportunity to pass laws that will help reduce harmful emissions. One such proposal is AB 905, a bill that would give the California Air Resources Board (CARB), one of the strictest environmental regulators in the world, the authority to regulate mobile fuel delivery.
Mobile fueling is a service that, when delivered responsibly, eliminates air- and water-polluting fuel transfers and spillage. By using licensed and certified employees, responsible mobile fueling significantly reduces the 4 million gallons of gasoline spilled annually at traditional gas stations and reduces vehicle miles traveled to procure fuel. This energy delivery model will also play a major role in making alternative fuels more available to California residents and in decarbonizing last mile delivery.
Recently, however, the Assembly Committee on Transportation refused even to consider AB 905 due to objections by certain air districts, many of which have failed to develop rules for the industry. The failure to regulate has resulted in rogue services whose operations are 20 times worse for the environment than even traditional fuel stations. These vehicles refuel cars near schools and playgrounds, exposing children to carcinogenic substances. In other words, the air districts are opposed to regulation that would ensure the highest standards of operations for everyone.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), which regulates air quality in and around Los Angeles, is opposed to the concept of mobile fueling. The ostensible basis for their objection is environmental - despite the fact that SCAQMD is poised to miss its air quality attainment goals and has failed to rein in the rogue operators. California will suffer more pollution in the absence of the law.
In 2019, SCAQMD collected more than 30% of its $327 million reported budget from permitting and fees. Air districts wield their considerable power in the Assembly to keep collecting that money, despite the fact that they earn it in direct proportion to how much they allow companies to pollute their jurisdictions. SCAQMD has a perverse incentive to collect fees from dirty operations rather than actually improving air quality.
In refusing to bring the mobile fueling bill to a vote, the California Assembly has co-signed the actions of the air districts whose lack of action has created perverse incentives that will result in health risks to communities.
Sacramento should advocate the swift adoption of technologies that will ease the transition to renewable energy, reducing emissions and helping California reach its attainment goals.
The mobile fueling bill will do just that, creating reasonable environmental and safety standards for all.