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Heavy Trucks Cause Much Of Our Air Pollution. A New State Rule Aims To Change That

Trucks stand prepared to haul shipping containers at the Port of Los Angeles on Sept. 18, 2018. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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Shocking no Angeleno who’s ever been outside, Los Angeles has the worst smog in the nation (again). And California counties lead the U.S. in long-term particulate matter pollution.

The main culprit behind our air quality woes? The big diesel-burning trucks that keep our economy moving. Trucks are responsible for about 70% of the air pollution that we breathe in on a regular basis, according to the California Air Resources Management Board (CARB).

That’s why yesterday, CARB passed a new regulation to start phasing out fossil fuel-fueled trucks in favor of zero-emission electric ones.

The new rule requires truck manufacturers to begin shifting production to electric vehicles, starting in 2024. The goal is for all new trucks sold in California to be zero-emission by 2045.

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Studies show that air pollution disproportionately harms Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans and low-income communities. And a recent study out of Harvard linked more air pollution exposure to higher death rates from COVID-19.

In a statement, CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols said the move is long overdue and will help address inequity across the state.

“For decades, while the automobile has grown cleaner and more efficient, the other half of our transportation system has barely moved the needle on clean air. Diesel vehicles are the workhorses of the economy, and we need them to be part of the solution to persistent pockets of dirty air in some of our most disadvantaged communities."


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