August 22, 2014 5:00 PM, EDT

U.S. Court Rejects Emissions Case Argument

A U.S. Appeals Court rejected a bid by three California community groups to overturn a lower court ruling that emissions from trucks and locomotives in BNSF Railway and Union Pacific facilities did not violate a federal waste disposal law.

“This is a significant decision,” because it affects emissions in both industries, Glen Kedzie, energy & environmental affairs counsel at American Trucking Associations, told TT, referring to the Aug. 20 ruling by the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. The railroads were the sole defendants in the case.

The case turned aside the plaintiff’s contention that emissions from motor and rail carriers’ equipment constituted “disposal” under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act that governs solid waste disposal.

The Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, the Natural Resources Defense Counsel and the East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice argued that locomotive and truck emissions were linked to cancer in residents living near the rail yards.

The plaintiffs claimed that the RCRA was being violated because the emissions landed on land and water. The rails argued that didn’t happen because the particles were blown away by the air and wind.

The ruling was the latest in multiple cases involving emissions. Those steps have included moves by the California Air Resources Board and others.