SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Biden administration paved the way Friday for California’s plan to phase out a wide range of diesel-powered trucks, part of the state’s effort to dramatically reduce global warming emissions and improve air quality in high traffic areas like ports along the coast.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision allows California — which has some of the worst air pollution in the country — to require truck makers to sell increasing numbers of zero-emission trucks over the next few years. next two decades. The rule applies to a wide range of trucks, including vans, tractor-trailers and even large passenger pickups.
“Under the Clean Air Act, California has long had the power to address pollution from cars and trucks. Today’s announcement allows the state to take additional steps to reduce its transportation emissions through these new regulatory measures,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.
Governor Gavin Newsom applauded the state’s role as a leader in setting ambitious vehicle emissions standards.
“We are leading the charge to get dirty trucks and buses – the dirtiest vehicles – off our streets, and other states and countries are lining up to follow our lead,” the Democrat said in a statement.
The EPA generally sets standards for exhaust emissions from passenger cars, trucks and other vehicles, but California has always won waivers to impose its own stricter standards. Other states may then follow suit, and eight more states plan to adopt California’s truck standards, Newsom’s office said. In a letter last year, attorneys general from 15 states, Washington, DC and New York urged the EPA to approve California’s truck standards.
The transportation sector accounts for nearly 40% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions. Newsom has already moved to ban the sale of new 100% gasoline-powered cars by 2035. The EPA has not acted on those rules.
The new truck standards are aimed at companies that manufacture trucks and those that own large quantities of them. Companies with 50 or more trucks will have to provide information to the state on how they use those trucks to ship goods and provide shuttle services. Manufacturers will have to sell a higher percentage of zero-emission vehicles from 2024. Depending on the category of truck, zero-emission vehicles will have to represent 40% to 75% of sales by 2035.
California has a long history of adopting stricter exhaust emission standards, even before the federal clean air law was enacted, said Paul Cort, an attorney for the nonprofit organization. nonprofit Earthjustice.
“We have a vehicle problem,” Cort said. “We are dependent on our cars and trucks, and that’s a big cause of the air pollution we’re fighting.”
But Wayne Winegarden, principal investigator at the Pacific Research Institute, said it was too early to adopt California standards.
“The charging infrastructure is definitely not there,” he said of the electric vehicle charging stations. “And on top of the charging infrastructure, we have the network issues.”
While California was hit this winter by atmospheric rivers that permeated much of the state, it suffered years of drought conditions, and in September a brutal heat wave that put its strained electrical network.
The announcement came as advocates push for more ambitious exhaust emissions standards in other states and nationally.
“We’re not just fighting for California, we’re fighting for all communities,” said Jan Victor Andasan, an activist with East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. The group is advocating for better air quality in and around Los Angeles, the nation’s second most populous city, known for its heavy traffic and heavy smog.
Andasan and other environmental activists from around the country who are part of the Moving Forward Network, a 50-member group based at Occidental College in Los Angeles, recently met with EPA officials to discuss nationwide regulations aimed at limit emissions from trucks and other vehicles.
But some trucking industry players are concerned about the cost and burden of the transition for truckers and businesses.
“State and federal regulators collaborating on this unrealistic patchwork of regulations have no idea of the true costs of designing, building, manufacturing and operating the trucks that deliver their groceries, clothing and merchandise” , said Chris Spear, president of the American Trucking Association. , in a report.
“They will certainly feel the pain when these fanciful projections lead to catastrophic disruptions far beyond California’s borders,” he added.
Federal pollution standards for heavy trucks are also getting stricter. The EPA has released rules that will reduce nitrogen oxide pollution, which contributes to smog, by more than 80% by 2027. The agency will propose limits on greenhouse gas emissions this year.
The agency expects new standards and government investment will lead to zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell and electric trucks carrying most of the country’s cargo.
California activists Andasan and Brenda Huerta Soto, an organizer with the People’s Collective for Environmental Justice, are troubled by the impact of pollution from trucks and other vehicles on communities with large populations of residents of color who live near busy ports from Los Angeles, Oakland and other cities as well as warehouse-dense inland areas.
Huerta Soto works in the Inland Empire of Southern California, where a high concentration of trucks transit to transport goods. In addition to truck pollution, the many cars, trucks and trains that pass through the area burden residents with noise, smells and pollutants emitted by these vehicles, she said.
“We have the technology and we have the money” to move to zero-emission vehicles, she said.