The key topic of this paper is to discuss the extent regulations controlling emissions of farm equipment impact the agriculturalists, human health, and the environment in California. The current regulations are a response to toxic emissions from diesel engines. These toxic agents become visible as the diesel exhaust cools. Diesel particulate matter is carcinogenic as well as are other components found in diesel fuel emissions. Diesel engines release harmful substances including directly emitted organic and elemental carbon (soot), toxic metals, nitrogen oxides that form ozone and nitrate particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and a variety of toxic metals and gases such as formaldehyde, acrolein, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. (California Air Resources Board 2000. Risk Reduction Plan to Reduce Particulate Matter Emissions from Diesel-Fueled Engines. CARB Mobile Source Division October 2000) "Overall emissions from diesel engines are responsible for the majority of the potential airborne cancer risks in California." (California Environmental Protection Agency ARB October 2000 fact sheet) At first agriculturalist opposed the regulations based upon the argument that not enough scientific data had been collected to determine if farm equipment was a significant contributor of hazardous material to the environment and therefore, should be regulated.
To help quell this opposition by agricultural lobbyists California has provided some assistance to farmers to help them comply with the new standards with less out of pocket expenditure. One of the first criticisms from farmers was that some of the equipment still in operation would not be eligible for a permit and would need costly repairs and retrofitting and secondly that some of the units, although functioning adequately, financially do not merit the retrofitting by virtue of their age.