Resisting opposition from the trucking industry and oil companies, the California Air Resources Control Board approved a rule that requires automakers to sell a minimum number of large vehicles, delivery vans and large pickups zero emissions, starting in 2024. Quotas will be introduced gradually and by 2035, most of the State’s new trucks will produce no pollution.
This ambitious move is expected to spill over far beyond California, as states as far apart as Connecticut, New Jersey and New York have expressed interest in imitating the rule, and automakers are considering an international growing market for electric and hydrogen trucks.
“The rest of the world is watching,” said Dan Sperling, a member of the National Air Board. “This is a revolution that is on the side of history. ”
Trucks are everywhere on California roads, carrying cargo from ports, fruit and vegetables from farms in the San Joaquin Valley, and consumer goods from stores along Interstate 5. Although they still represent much less traffic than cars, trucks often have large diesel engines and travel many more kilometers, which makes their exhaust more important.
Despite the state’s already aggressive air quality rules, seven of the 10 smokiest cities in the country are in California, according to the American Lung Association. Pollution is known to cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems, often disproportionately in low-income neighborhoods.
“We need regulations that bring us to a healthy and fair future,” said Taylor Thomas, who spoke via video feed at the virtual board meeting. She lives in Long Beach and developed asthma after growing up in a poor area near a highway. “We live with these trucks every day. … Our communities suffer from the burden of pollution. ”
According to the Air Transportation Agency’s analysis, the new regulation, known as the Advanced Clean Trucks rule, will reduce smog-generating nitrogen oxides by 59,000 tonnes by 2040, producing $ 9 billion in health benefits.
California is already requiring automakers to sell a minimum number of electric cars, and the state is currently fighting with the Trump administration to maintain stricter exhaust standards for vehicles.The Advanced Clean Trucks rule also opens up new horizons in climate control in California. The transportation sector has been one of the most difficult areas to control greenhouse gas reductions. It represents around 40% of the heat trapping gases of the state. The new regulations are expected to reduce the equivalent of 17 tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2040.
The agency’s analysis also found that if zero emission trucks are more expensive to manufacture than their gasoline counterparts, the fuel savings would outweigh the higher upfront costs. About $ 6 billion will be saved until 2040, according to the Air Office.
Many in the trucking industry have said that the transition will not be as smooth and beneficial as the air council suggests. They cited the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the economy as a financial barrier to making new cleaner trucks and said if they built them, companies would not appreciate the price.
“Commercial vehicle customers simply won’t buy ZEVS (Zero Emission Vehicles),” said Jed Mandel, President of the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association.
Critics also questioned whether the infrastructure and technology, including charging stations and batteries, were adequate for the deployment of so many zero-emission vehicles.
A Tesla representative at the Thursday meeting said, however, that the foundations for clean trucks would soon be in place. The Palo Alto-based automaker plans to produce an electric pickup truck and a semi-truck in 2021.
The Advanced Clean Trucks rule applies to trucks that weigh more than 8,500 pounds, from pickup trucks and heavy-duty trucks to box trucks and semi-trailers. Sales requirements and start dates vary by vehicle type. By 2045, the goal is to have all new trucks sold zero emissions.
The settlement was widely supported by environmentalists, clean energy advocates and justice groups as well as a number of environmental regulators from other states who took advantage of the Office of the Environment’s online meeting. to express their enthusiasm.
“There is clearly a national interest in the Advanced Clean Trucks rule,” said Katie Dykes, commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Governor Gavin Newsom released a statement Thursday evening applauding state-of-the-art action during the aftermath of the coronavirus epidemic.
“Even in the midst of a global pandemic, climate change is still an existential threat – both to our lifestyle and the health of our children,” he said. “Communities and children of color are often forced to breathe our most polluted air, and today’s vote brings us closer to a healthier future for all of our children. ”
Kurtis Alexander is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @kurtisalexander