Unrealistic Regulations Could Cause Operational Impact, Harm DoD Logistics

WASHINGTON – At a hearing this week, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, questioned U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) Commander Jacqueline Van Ovost about the national security risks of California’s effort to enact net-zero emissions requirements for locomotives.

Senator Fischer stated that California’s proposal would mean that around 65% of America’s locomotives would be prohibited from operating in the state starting in 2030. In her testimony, General Van Ovost said that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) relies on the U.S. transportation network, which includes 15 nodes and five ports in California and the only West Coast port for containerized ammunition.

Senator Fischer has opposed efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others to enact unrealistic emissions rules. In March, Senator Fischer called the EPA’s finalized rule for light-duty and medium-duty vehicle emission standards an “attempt to appease climate activists” and instead advocated for practical, market-driven changes.


Click the image above to watch a video of Sen. Fischer’s questioning

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On the Operational Impact of CA’s Locomotive Emissions Rule:

Senator Fischer: The California Air Resources Board has a proposal that would significantly impact the ability of the national rail network to support the movement of Department of Defense (DoD) equipment and materiel deployment to the West Coast. This proposal would impose unrealistic emission standards and requires zero emission locomotives, which do not exist because that technology is not even commercially available at this point in time. And this means that about 65% of the nation's locomotives would be prohibited from operating in California starting in 2030. What would the operational impact be if railroads could not service routes in California, or had to divert cargo to other areas to meet the DoD logistics requirements?

General Van Ovost: Senator, we rely every day on this nation's transportation network, whether it’s seaports, it’s rail, or it’s roads. So, as I think about the reduction in capacity across California, I think about—I have 15 nodes in California that we use from two different railroad lines. And we have five ports, one of which is our only West Coast ammunition port for containerized ammunition, which is critical to our operation plans. And of course, we have close relationships with the railroad industry, and so, we are working with them as this is emerging and they're understanding what the implications are. Initially, I believe that any increased costs will be passed directly on to the customer. But I am concerned about the technology and their ability to recapitalize between the readiness of now and the readiness of future if they have to transition.

Senator Fischer: Have you expressed these concerns to the administration?

General Van Ovost: I have not. 

Senator Fischer: Do you plan to?

General Van Ovost: In my normal course of action through the Secretary of Defense, if this is going to impact national security, I absolutely will.

On the Rule’s Impact on Readiness to Surge Forces in the Indo-Pacific:

Senator Fischer: 
When we look at the requirements that you have and the plans that you have, if we are seeing conflict take place in the Indo Pacific, how would a surge of forces be impacted?

General Van Ovost: Yes, ma'am. We think about options every day, and we run several planning events and several simulations that would occur around the globe. These globally integrated plans, should we have to surge for an event like the events after October 7th. And so, we think about it, and we run these simulations. And we ensure that we have readiness for the fleet. The most important thing is to ensure not only do we have the capacity, but it's a credible capacity to operate in the environment we expect to be in. We expect it to be contested, and an example right there is the Red Sea.

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