California’s plan to phase out diesel trucks approved by EPA: NPR
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Biden administration cleared the way Friday for California’s plan to phase out a wide range of diesel-powered trucks, part of the state’s efforts to drastically cut global-warming emissions and improve air quality in high-traffic areas bordering the coast .
The decision by the US Environmental Protection Agency allows California – which has some of the nation’s worst air pollution – to require truck makers to sell an increasing number of zero-emission trucks over the next couple of decades. The rule applies to a wide range of trucks, including vans, semi-trailers and even large passenger pick-ups.
“Under the Clean Air Act, California has longstanding authority 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 actions,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.
Gov. 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 most polluting vehicles — off our streets, and other states and countries are lining up to follow our lead,” the Democrat said in a statement.
The EPA typically sets standards for tailpipe emissions from cars, trucks and other vehicles, but California has historically been granted waivers to impose its own, more stringent standards. Other states could then follow suit, and eight other 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 City urged the EPA to approve California trucking standards.
The transportation sector accounts for nearly 40% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions. Newsom has already moved to ban the sale of new cars that run entirely on gasoline by 2035. The EPA has not acted on those rules.
The new truck standards are aimed at companies that make trucks and those that own large numbers of them. Companies that own 50 or more trucks will have to report information to the state about how they use those trucks to ship goods and provide shuttle services. Manufacturers must sell a higher percentage of zero-emission vehicles starting in 2024. Depending on the truck class, zero-emission vehicles will have to make up 40-75% of sales by 2035.
California has a long legacy of passing stricter tailpipe emissions standards even before the federal Clean Air Act was signed into law, said Paul Cort, an attorney with the environmental group Earthjustice.
“We have a vehicle problem,” Cort said. “We depend on our cars and trucks, and that’s a big cause of the air pollution we’re fighting.”
But Wayne Winegarden, a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, said it’s too early to adopt the California standards.
“The charging infrastructure is absolutely not there,” he said of power stations for electric vehicles. “And on top of the charging infrastructure, we have the grid problems.”
While this winter California was hit by atmospheric rivers that drenched large parts of the state, it has suffered years of drought conditions and, in September, a brutal heat wave that put the electricity grid to the test.
The announcement came as advocates are pushing for more ambitious tailpipe emissions standards in other states and at the national level.
“We’re not just fighting for California, we’re fighting for all the 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 intense 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 national regulations to limit emissions from trucks and other vehicles.
But some in the trucking industry are concerned about how costly and onerous the transition will be for truckers and businesses.
“The state and federal governments collaborating on this unrealistic patchwork of regulations have no understanding of the real costs of designing, building, manufacturing and operating the trucks that deliver groceries, clothing and goods,” said Chris Spear, president of the American Trucking Association. , in a statement.
“They will surely 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 tougher. The EPA released rules that would cut nitrogen oxide pollution, which contributes to the formation of smog, by more than 80% by 2027. The agency will propose limits on greenhouse gas emissions this year.
The agency expects the new standards and government investment to lead to zero-emission electric and hydrogen fuel cell trucks carrying most of the nation’s freight.
California activists Andasan and Brenda Huerta Soto, an organizer with the People’s Collective for Environmental Justice, are concerned about the impact of pollution from trucks and other vehicles on communities with large populations of people of color living near busy ports in Los Angeles, Oakland and other cities as well as stock-dense inland areas.
Huerta Soto works in Southern California’s Inland Empire, where a high concentration of trucks pass through to transport goods. On top of truck pollution, the many cars, trucks and trains that pass through the area burden residents with noise, odors and pollutants emitted by these vehicles, she said.
“We have the technology, and we have the money” to move toward zero-emission vehicles, she said.