California keeps pushing for zero-emissions trucks by 2045

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California will have cleaner air than the rest of the US sooner. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is about to greenlight plans allowing the state to phase out diesel trucks earlier than the rest of the United States and introduce stricter emission regulations.

++ This article has been updated. Please continue reading below. ++

According to the Washington Post, state regulators have already approved the rules despite industry protests. The new “waivers” would allow California to enforce environmental regulations that are significantly stricter than those required nationwide. This will include stricter pollution limits on heavy-duty vehicles – such as delivery trucks, rubbish trucks and tractor-trailers. Not only must they become 100% electric by 2045, but manufacturers must also reduce exhaust emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. These rules would apply to vehicles beginning with the 2024 model year, three years ahead of the administration’s latest regulations, which start with 2027, writes the Post. According to the report, about a third of smog-forming nitrogen oxides and more than a quarter of particulate matter pollution comes from diesel fuel in California.

California’s plan, unveiled in 2020, is at the heart of requiring manufacturers to sell a successively increasing share of electric trucks, vans and pickup trucks from 2024 until 2035. By 2045, every new commercial vehicle in the US state will be electric. Cars and pickup trucks must switch to selling zero-emission models already by 2035 to accommodate the electric truck industry’s backlog, as reported. In addition, Californian transport companies may only buy fully electric buses from 2029.

Since the federal regulation sees a slower transition, California needs the exemption and has been fighting for it for years. Naturally, against opposition from some in the industry. The Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association, which represents the largest truck manufacturers in the country, said that any exemption would have repercussions beyond the state’s borders: six other states, which together with California account for about 20 per cent of nationwide sales of heavy-duty vehicles, have already committed to following California’s stricter standards. But they cannot implement their plans until the EPA grants California said exemption. “EPA is working to issue its decisions on the waivers before us as expeditiously as possible,” an agency spokesperson told the Post.

States awaiting the EPA ruling include New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Massachusetts, Washington and Vermont. All except New Jersey have also committed to following California’s more stringent tailpipe pollution standards. Some manufacturers are expected to sue once the decision is made, which could further delay the implementation.

Update 4 April 2023

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it will approve California’s plans to enforce stricter emission and electrification rules on heavy-duty trucks than those required nationwide. California governor Gavin Newsom welcomes the decision, saying that it was “time to stop playing small ball.”

As expected, manufacturers are less excited about the decision. According to American Trucking Associations Chief Executive Chris Spear, “by allowing the state to proceed with these technologically infeasible rules on unworkable and unrealistic timelines, the EPA is sowing the ground for a future supply chain crisis.”

However, the EPA has not yet approved all of California’s regulations. The state i.e. wants to limit exhaust emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter for trucks from 2024 – three years earlier than in the rest of the country. Furthermore, California also wants to require all new light commercial vehicles and trucks to be all-electric or at least plug-in hybrids from 2035. In both cases, Sacramento needs a waiver from the EPA to enforce the rules – which have not been issued at this point.,, (both update)


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