Following up on a previously announced deal with Gov. Jerry Brown, the California legislature last Friday passed a series of bills that collectively allocates nearly $1.5 billion for alternative fuel vehicles.

The California Clean Air Initiative bills passed on the final day of the session and are structured to apply cap-and-trade funds to replace diesel engines in heavy-duty trucks and buses on an unprecedented scale. Diesel, however, is not eliminated.

The action was lauded by alternative transportation fuel advocates, but natural gas vehicle (NGV) proponents lamented the continuing use of diesel fuel in the state through 2030. The California NGV Coalition said the legislation is “particularly timely” for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which are scheduled to vote on a Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) in early November.

“With funding now available, the final version of the plan can be made much more effective than previous versions through the use of incentives to remove diesel burning heavy-duty trucks and replace them with new trucks” that would use low-nitrogen oxide natural gas engines fueled by renewable natural gas, a coalition spokesperson said.

The current draft plan allows diesel trucks to continue operating in the ports for another 17 years, but he NGV Coalition is working to get diesel trucks off the road sooner.

“We can’t wait 17 years to get diesel polluting trucks off our roads; let’s accelerate the CAAP and incentivize trucks in 2018,” a coalition spokesperson said.

“This is the largest investment to clean air in our state’s history and will provide incentives to replace dirty diesel engines with cleaner-burning natural gas engines that will directly result in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the reduction of smog-forming pollutants,” said California NGV Coalition President Thomas Lawson.

The Advanced Clean Trucks Now Plan aims to accelerate the San Pedro Bay ports’ CAAP by replacing diesel trucks over the next five years.

“It offers a cost-effective opportunity, using proven technology, to drastically and immediately reduce emissions from the 13,000 port trucks serving the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach,” the coalition _spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, American Natural Gas (ANG) has opened a public compressed natural gas (CNG) station in Fontana, CA, 40 miles east of Los Angeles, an “easily accessible” CNG fueling hub for the trucking industry.

ANG CEO Drew West said the station demonstrates “an exclusive focus on CNG,” as ANG was “able to listen to drivers, problem-solve with partners, and source stronger equipment.”

Equipped with three 300 hp compressors packaged by ANGI Energy Systems, advanced fueling nozzles and other state-of-art technology, the station accommodates heavy-duty and transit fleet vehicles as a fast-fill facility. ANG currently owns and operates about 40 fueling stations in 13 states.

Elsewhere in Southern California, Long Beach opened a CNG station developed by TruStar Energy for a city maintenance yard fleet. The facility includes fuel compression equipment with back-up power, allowing overnight 10-hour fills for 80 trucks and 20 street sweepers.