Fifteen states and the District of Columbia are banding together in a promising step toward electrifying medium-and heavy-duty electric vehicles (EVs) while phasing out carbon-emitting trucks. A recent memorandum of understanding between the states affirms their commitment to constructing an action plan for trucks, vans, and buses, highlighting that the initiative will slash diesel emissions and curb carbon pollution. The memo says that while trucks and buses comprise just four percent of vehicles on the road, they are responsible for a whopping 25 percent of the transportation sector’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Specific details of the plan are pending, but the goal is to reach 100 percent new zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) larger truck sales by 2050 with a target of 30 percent by 2030. Truck emissions are rising faster than any other source of greenhouse gases, and that “the number of truck miles traveled on the nation’s roads is forecast to continue to grow significantly in the coming decades.” In addition to Washington, DC, the coalition includes California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Vermont.
The consortium has pledged to develop a plan in the next six months to identify barriers and propose solutions to support the movement toward electric medium-and heavy-duty vehicles. A major goal will be to focus on communities that have been disproportionately affected by higher air pollution. As noted in the memorandum, member states are also called to inspire change by electrifying government agency vehicle fleets, as well as to “explore opportunities for coordinated/aggregated vehicle and infrastructure procurement.”
Colorado’s role in the coalition comes as transportation accounts for the state’s largest output of greenhouse gasses, according to Colorado Department of Public Health Director John Putnam. Putnam notes the importance of the initiative in areas like Colorado’s North Denver and Commerce City, where he says “transportation drives disproportionate pollution burdens.” The agreement comes amid criticism that Colorado and its Governor, Jared Polis, have faced over the state’s slow-moving effort to construct a plan to reduce its climbing emissions.
For North Carolina, the memo is a positive sign of an emerging eco-friendly policy. At the end of 2018, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed Executive Order No. 80 into effect–issuing a series of goals that include reducing North Carolina’s greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 2005 levels.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf responded to his state’s participation in the coalition by saying “Pennsylvania is home to some of the highest-trafficked highways in the nation, and reducing air pollution from tailpipes will benefit Pennsylvanians across the state,” noting Pennsylvania “has already made investments to reduce these kinds of emissions and we are proud to be joining with other states to continue to deploy more electric trucks and buses so we can continue to cut the pollution.”
The announcement comes just weeks after California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) approved a “first-in-the-world” policy that will require manufacturers to sell more EVs starting in 2024, and completely transition to electric larger trucks by 2045. Reuters reports that California’s policy will result in nearly 300,000 zero-emission trucks on the ground by 2035. This isn’t the only major decision California has made surrounding vehicle electrification. In 2018, the board ruled that beginning in 2029, California mass transit agencies will be permitted to purchase only fully electric buses–making it the first state to implement a total shift to electric public transit buses.