California is considering a move forward with zero-emission fleet rules

California is poised to move forward with a new requirement to phase fleets to zero-emission vehicles starting in 2024.

The move by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) would affect public and private fleets, as well as vehicles such as port trucks and delivery vehicles operated by carriers such as UPS, FedEx and the US Postal Service, as the state moves. forward on the pioneering path away from fossil fuels.

“Despite the progress we’ve made, meeting California’s public health, air quality, environmental justice and climate goals requires more emissions reductions than we can get from combustion-based strategies,” said Liane Randolph, chair of the California Air Resources Board. some of her comments during the Oct. 27 CARB meeting. “To meet our goals, we need to convert all possible applications to zero-emission vehicles as soon as possible.”

The proposed rule went before the state regulatory agency for the first time. Another hearing will take place in a few weeks, with the plans expected to be approved in spring 2023. The policy includes several key components. Public fleets would be required to purchase zero-emission vehicles as an increasing percentage of vehicle purchases under normal purchase patterns. The collection trucks would also continue to operate the existing trucks “throughout their useful lives,” but would have to transition to ZEVs by 2035, CARB Executive Director Steven Cliff said.

Private fleets operating 50 or more vehicles and federal fleets would have two compliance options. “They could comply by removing combustion vehicles at the end of their life and just adding ZEVs to their fleets,” explained Cliff. “Or they could choose to take advantage of the option of phasing in zero-emission vehicles as a growing percentage of their fleet, which can provide greater flexibility in fleet management.”

The requirements would apply to all light-duty package delivery vehicles, such as those operated by the USPS and other carriers such as FedEx or UPS.

Some CARB members and dozens of environmental justice advocates who commented on the proposed rule on Oct. 27 called for lowering the threshold from 50 vehicles to 10 or 20.

“I’m not sure why we don’t go down to five trucks,” CARB member Diane Takvorian noted after hours of testimony and comments from the public and industry.

CARB member Daniel Sperling, who serves as director of the Transportation Studies Institute at the University of California, Davis, pushed back on the idea.

“The fleet buying part really makes me nervous. Reducing the number of vehicles to 10 really makes me nervous,” said Sperling, who would describe the move as a “disaster”.

Some of Sperling’s concerns revolved around whether there will be enough electric trucks and the robustness of the charging infrastructure.

“What we’re doing is going to be incredibly disruptive to a lot of businesses, a lot of companies,” Sperling added.

Reaction to the proposed rule change took the expected paths of both praise and concern, as environmental and social justice groups pushed for approval of the rule change — though many didn’t see the request going far enough. While many fleet operators were interested in the availability of charging infrastructure.

The Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) Regulations, as the proposed policy is known, follow other steps taken by CARB to transition the transportation industry. In 2020, CARB approved the Advanced Clean Trucks rule, which requires truck manufacturers to begin producing zero-emissions medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks. The Clean Fleets rule would push the timeframe for 100 percent of medium- and heavy-duty trucks sold in California to be zero-emissions from 2045 to 2040. And then earlier this year, CARB passed another set of vehicle regulations requiring that. all new cars sold in California will be zero-emissions by 2035.

The policies are designed to achieve the state’s climate and air quality goals, as well as help move the entire automotive industry toward a new electric future. California’s steps have also been praised by officials from other states, which have already pledged to follow the Golden State’s example.

ACF will help build supply chains, said Tracy Babbidge, acting deputy commissioner at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and co-vice president on the board of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, “that accelerates the emissions reductions achievable from clean, zero-emissions medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles.”

“A rapid and fair transition to zero-emission trucks and buses is essential to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and improve air quality and public health outcomes in our communities,” reiterated Jeremy Hunt, policy advisor and analyst at the nonprofit NESCAUM. association of state air quality agencies throughout New England.

Across the United States, medium- and heavy-duty trucks make up 5 percent of the vehicles on the road, but account for 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, 42 percent of NOx emissions and 51 percent of particulate matter emissions, Hunt said.

The proposed new clean fleet rule includes a number of exemptions and exemptions in cases where no zero-emission vehicle is available. This rule also exempts emergency vehicles such as fire and police cars. Rural regions and municipalities would be given more time to adapt to the changes. Still, CARB members haven’t lost sight of California’s vast diversity.

Rural communities “are concerned about the future, and especially about this rule,” said Davina Hurt, a CARB member and former mayor of Belmont, California.

“Some of these communities are going to need a huge upgrade. And that costs a lot of money. And so there has to be investment from the state level to support these communities,” Hurt said.

With all of these proposed exemptions and other adjustments, at least some members of the state regulatory agency weren’t so sure the policy was ready for approval in its current form.

“It really needs some work,” noted Dean Flores, a CARB member and former member of the California Legislature, who has been concerned about polluting internal combustion vehicles still finding their way into some of the poorest communities.


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