SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Biden administration on Friday cleared the way for California’s plan to phase out a wide range of diesel-powered trucks, part of the state’s effort to drastically cut emissions to warm the planet and reduce emissions Improve air quality during heavy traffic areas such as ports along the coast.
The US Environmental Protection Agency’s decision allows California — which has some of the world’s worst air pollution levels — to require truck manufacturers to sell increasing numbers of zero-emission trucks over the next few decades. The rule applies to a wide range of trucks, including panel vans, semi-trailers and even large passenger pickups.
“Under the Clean Air Act, California has long had the 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 measures,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.
Gov. Gavin Newsom praised the state’s role in pioneering the setting of ambitious vehicle emissions standards.
“We are leading the charge in getting dirty trucks and buses — the most polluting vehicles — off our streets, and other states and countries are lining up to follow our example,” the Democrat said in a statement.
The EPA normally sets standards for tailpipe emissions from cars, trucks, and other vehicles, but California has historically been granted exemptions to introduce its own, more stringent standards. Other states may then follow, and eight more states plan to adopt California’s trucking standards, Newsom’s office said. In a letter last year, attorneys general from 15 states, Washington, DC and New York City asked the EPA to approve California’s trucking standards.
The transportation sector is responsible for almost 40% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions. Newsom has already moved to ban the sale of new all-gasoline cars by 2035. The EPA did not follow these rules.
The new truck standards are aimed at companies that make trucks and those who own large quantities of them. Businesses that own 50 or more trucks must report information to the state about how they use those trucks to ship goods and provide shuttle services. Manufacturers must sell a higher proportion of zero-emission vehicles from 2024. By 2035, depending on the truck class, 40 to 75 percent of sales should be emission-free.
The announcement came as advocates in other states and nationally are pushing for more ambitious emissions standards.
“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 campaigns for better air quality in and around Los Angeles, the country’s second most populous city, known for its heavy traffic and intense smog.
Andasan and other environmental activists from across the country who are part of the Moving Forward Network, a 50-strong group based at Occidental College in Los Angeles, recently met with EPA officials to discuss national regulations to limit emissions from trucks and others discuss vehicles.
However, some in the trucking industry are concerned about how costly and stressful the transition will be for truckers and businesses.
“The state and federal regulators working together on this unrealistic patchwork of regulations don’t have a handle on the true costs of designing, building, manufacturing and operating the trucks that deliver their food, clothing and merchandise,” Chris said Spear, President of the American Trucking Association, in a statement.
“You will surely feel the pain as these imaginative projections lead to catastrophic disruption far beyond California’s borders,” he added.
Federal emission standards for heavy trucks are also becoming stricter. The EPA has released rules that will reduce nitrogen oxide pollution, which contributes to smog formation, 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 will result in zero-emission electric and hydrogen fuel cell trucks, which haul 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 black populations living near busy ports in Los Angeles, Oakland, Live and other cities as well as stocked inland areas.
Huerta Soto works in Southern California’s Inland Empire, where a high concentration of trucks carrying goods passes. In addition to truck pollution, the many cars, trucks and trains that pass through the area expose local residents to noise, odors and pollutants emitted by those vehicles, she said.
“We have the technology and we have the money” to move to zero-emission vehicles, she said.
Associated Press writers Tom Krisher in Detroit and Matthew Daly in Washington, DC contributed to this report.
Sophie Austin is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover undercover topics.
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