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Climate and Environment

California Considers Rule To Ban New Gas and Diesel Trucks By 2040

Three workers stand under a raised electric truck frame inside a factory.
Workers at a Volvo Trucks’ plant in Sweden assemble an electric truck.
(Courtesy of Volvo
via CalMatters)
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Pollution from the tailpipes of trucks and cars make up the bulk of California’s health-harming and planet-heating emissions. That’s why cutting emissions from that sector is a big part of the state’s climate goals to end its use of fossil fuels and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2045.

The state’s already banned the sale of new gas cars by 2035. The California Air Resources Board, the agency that regulates air pollution, is now in the process of finalizing rules to extend the ban to medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

Public Hearing Held

On Thursday, state air regulators held the first of two public hearings on the proposed rule to ban new gas and diesel trucks by 2040 and require large fleets to phase them out over time.

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Jocelyn del Real said the phase-out should be faster. She’s an organizer with East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. The 26-year-old grew up next to the 710 freeway, which she said was the reason she got involved in the environmental justice movement.

“It was normalized to see a lot of trucks in our community,” del Real told LAist. “Growing up and getting involved in community organizing spaces, we realized that these things aren't normal. There are many communities that don't see these same impacts when it comes to diesel trucks.”

“As community members, we have a sense of urgency,” she said. “Our lives are actively cut short due to these health impacts.”

For generations, Angelenos who live closest to freeways and industry have sounded the alarm on the health impacts of pollution. Over the years, studies have confirmed that low-income Latino and Black communities disproportionately suffer the health impacts of such pollution.

Del Real traveled with a group of Angelenos to the hearing in Sacramento to urge air regulators to quicken the phaseout and include smaller fleets in the rules. The rule as proposed only applies to fleets with more than 50 vehicles.

“I hope that no one here has also had to help a family member get oxygen tanks to breathe a little better or even wonder if this is the future that awaits for you,” she told regulators.

Medium and heavy-duty trucks make up just 3% of all the vehicles on California roads, but spew 50% of the pollution that causes smog that has been linked to increased rates of asthma, cancer and other diseases.

Concerns About Rule’s Feasibility From Trucking And Energy Orgs

California air regulators estimate the rule could reduce smog by 35% and planet-heating carbon emissions by 41% over the next 18 years.

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But trucking organizations and energy providers have expressed concern about the feasibility of the rule due to lack of infrastructure. There are also concerns about how smaller trucking companies and freelance owner-operators may be affected due to the high cost of electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

“The regulation simply does not address a number of circumstances where the performance of zero emission trucks or the charging infrastructure is inadequate,” said Mike Tunnell of the American Trucking Association at the hearing.

Josiah Young of the California Bus Association said the rule could negatively affect people who rely on buses the most and called for some exemptions for the bus industry.

“There must be a nuanced approach to regulating the motorcoach industry,” Young said. “Infrastructure and range issues are exacerbated by the nature of our routes ... So it's going to be a burden on our customers to have to wait an additional four hours to charge on an already long road trip.”

A decision on the rule is expected early next year.

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