Regulations now being considered by the state air resources board could help clean up emissions from the estimated one million heavy duty trucks and busses now operating in California.
The regulations would require filters on existing diesel engines or force the replacent of older truck engines with new cleaner burning power plants.
Some owner operators claim that the new regulations would put a huge financial burden on truck owners who are reeling from a slow economy.
"I believe that they should have an outside service investigate the effects of the economy and balance that with the need to clean up the air," said Bob Ramarino fromt the California Truckers Association.
"It's not cheap especially for the owner operator who is barely making it," said trucker Arthur Mendez.
"In the Bay Area sixty to 85 percent of the cancer risk comes from diesel particulate matter, which comes primarily from diesel trucks," said Mark Ross from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
Ross says California can't wait. Regulations reducing the toxic emissions are important for the health of people who live near the Port of Oakland or near freeways used by big rigs.
Truckers would need to install diesel exhaust filters on their trucks by 2010. Older engines would have to be replaced on a staggered schedule.
Owner operators complain that retrofitting their trucks with filters could costs thousands of dollars, and putting in a new engine could cost more than $100,000.
But Ross says there are now grants available to these truckers that will cut those costs by at least half.
In addition to reducing emissions, the new proposed regulations would require trucks to install new aerodynamic equipment and low resistance tires to also improve fuel efficiencies.
The state is offering a $1 billion to help truckers comply with the proposed regulations. A hearing on the new regulations is scheduled for December 11 in Sacramento.