OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 19: Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf looks on during an assembly at Edna Brewer Middle School about the U.S. Constitution on January 19, 2018 in Oakland, California. Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf discussed the U.S. Constitution with middle sc

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Bay Area Cities Will Be 'Diesel Free' By 2033

Doug Sovern
September 12, 2018 - 4:33 pm

Numerous Bay Area cities will completely cut out diesel exhaust within 15 years to mitigate negative health effects that have plagued many communities. 

Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, Emeryville, Sacramento and others in the region will replace diesel-guzzling trucks, buses and ferries with electric vehicles and other clean technologies by 2033, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said at Wednesday's signing ceremony.

All port operations will be fueled by renewable energy as part of the Diesel Free by ’33 pledge. The initiative is led by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and comes on the first day of San Francisco’s Global Climate Action Summit.

Schaaf called it “real action” on climate change, and used crass language to criticize the rollback of environmental regulations by the Trump administration. 

“I hope the world sees it as a big F-U to President Trump,” said Schaaf. “We care about people,” she added. “And we can serve both people and planet when we get rid of diesel.”

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District said that the exhaust from diesel vehicles includes more than 40 substances identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as toxic. The pollutants can cause chronic respiratory conditions like lung cancer, and can trigger immediate reactions in those with conditions like asthma and emphysema.

In addition to carbon dioxide, or C02, diesel exhaust also emits a carcinogen known as black carbon, a short-lived particulate that absorbs sunlight and warms the atmosphere.

In traditionally lower-income neighborhoods that border busy ports and industrial facilities, like West Oakland, Bayview-Hunter’s Point, and parts of Richmond, around 80 percent of the air pollution comes from diesel trucks and industrial vehicles, according to Jack Broadbent, chief executive of the air quality management district. 

Broadbent said the diesel emissions have a “devastating impact” on the health of these communities, and contribute to longstanding socio-economic disparities. He called Diesel Free by ‘33 a commitment “to move forward aggressively” with an ambitious, but achievable, goal.