California approves rule phasing out big diesel trucks

Air regulators in California have approved a rule to stop selling new big rigs and buses that run on diesel fuel, in an effort to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

California approves rule phasing out big diesel trucks

SACRAMENTO (Calif.) (AP)... New big rigs, buses, and trucks that run on diesel will not be sold by California regulators starting in 2036. The new rules are designed to get the state away from fossil fuels, and to combat climate change.

The rule would address pollution caused by heavy trucks that are used to transport goods in ports. Companies will be required to disclose the use of these trucks, also known as drayage trucks, before 2024.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must approve the rule before it can be implemented. It's a standard that the Biden administration approved last month, which aims to phase out diesel powered box trucks and semi-trailers as well as large passenger pickups. California's rule could be adopted by other states if the EPA approves it.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom hailed Friday's action as an opportunity to show the world 'what real climate change looks like.

In a press release, he stated that 'we're one step nearer to healthier neighborhoods and cleaner clean air for all Californians'.

As part of its larger goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, the state continues to approve aggressive emissions standards. This means it will remove as many emissions of carbon as it produces. The air regulators voted previously to require all new cars and pickup trucks, SUVs or hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2035. They have also banned the sale new products powered by small gasoline engines such as leaf blowers and lawn mowers.

The vote on truck emissions follows Thursday's approval by the California Air Resources Board of a rule that will phase out decades-old, diesel-powered locomotives, and transition to a more emission-free technology for trains transporting food, lumber and oil, among other products.

Some in the trucking business are worried that the rule could increase the price of goods being trucked.

The American Trucking Associations deemed the rule "unrealistic." The group is concerned about the cost of a sudden shift to zero emission vehicles and claims that vehicle charging infrastructure is not prepared for the change.

The group stated that 'as it becomes evident that California's rhetoric and technology are not matching, we hope that the Board will change course and allow trucking firms the freedom to select the clean technologies which work best for them'.

It said that truck emissions have dropped dramatically in the last decade.

State regulators in North America say that there are more than 100 zero-emission truck models available. More than 100 other models are also being produced.

The Friday rule combined with the previous electric truck regulations that the state has approved would result in more than 1.6 millions zero-emission heavy-duty and medium-duty trucks operating within the state by 2048.

According to the EPA's statistics, transportation contributes nearly a quarter (or more) of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. This includes medium- and heavy duty trucks.

According to the California Air Resources Board, heavy-duty vehicles only make up 3% of the vehicles on California's roads, but they are responsible for more than half the nitrogen oxides pollution and fine diesel particle pollution. Diesel engines, although more powerful than gasoline engines, are more polluting. These trucks also cover many more miles compared to passenger cars.

California is home to two of the busiest port cities in the world, Los Angeles and Long Beach.

According to the American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report, six of the 10 cities with the highest ozone pollution in the U.S. are located in California.

Will Barrett, senior national director of clean air advocacy at the American Lung Association, said: "You cannot overstate the importance" of the actions taken today in California from a health perspective.

Sam Wilson, an expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists said that the technology was available to begin the transition towards electric trucks.

Wilson stated that 'we need this standard in order to accelerate the phase-out process of trucks powered by fossil fuels, which pollute our air.

Adam Beam, a writer for the Associated Press, contributed to this article.

Sophie Austin is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America, a nonprofit program that places journalists into local newsrooms in order to cover undercovered topics, is a national service program. Follow Austin on Twitter