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States Join Clean Truck Push, Set 100% Zero-Emission 2050 Goal (2)

July 14, 2020, 12:00 PMUpdated: July 14, 2020, 7:33 PM

More than a dozen states and the District of Columbia are following California’s lead and will push for more zero-emission trucks on the roads in order to cut diesel pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The governors of 15 states and the mayor of Washington, D.C., signed on to a memorandum of understanding to work jointly to increase the number of clean pickup trucks, vans, delivery trucks, transit buses, and big rigs. The consortium has a goal of 30% zero-emission vehicles sales by 2030 and 100% clean vehicle sales by 2050.

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and Vermont signed the memorandum, along with Washington, D.C.

Together, they account for about 35% of the medium- and heavy-duty truck market, said Paul Miller, executive director of the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, an association of air quality agencies in the Northeast that organized the effort.

The agreement “is a commitment to collectively work together to promote this market and the infrastructure needs of this market with the goals of addressing climate change, addressing air pollution, and addressing air toxics,” Miller said in a phone interview.

Trucks and buses account for about 4% of total vehicles on the road nationwide but account for about 25% of fuel purchased, and corresponding emissions, in the transportation sector, according to the U.S Department of Energy.

California Goals

California’s air regulators in June set first-in-the-nation sales goals for zero-emission delivery vehicles, pickup trucks, tractor-trailers, and other medium- and heavy-duty haulers weighing more than 8,500 pounds. The goals vary by weight, from 5% to 9% of sales in 2024, and reach 40% to 75% of sales by 2035.

California Air Resources Board staff also have been directed to research ways to get the fleet to 100% zero emissions by 2045. About 70 electric truck and bus models currently are available, and California officials said their sales goals were a way to push bigger manufacturers to produce more clean models.

“Our efforts in California will be magnified through the efforts of this multi-state coalition to reduce emissions and improve air quality, especially crucial in communities where our most vulnerable citizens live,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “By working together, we can move toward a cleaner future.”

The signatory states will work with Miller’s ZEV Task Force and take six months to develop an action plan. States could choose to set goals like California, adopt incentives, or take other actions to promote growth in the electric vehicle industry. Each state will also work to electrify its fleet of cars and add required infrastructure.

“The electric vehicle industry is primed for tremendous growth,” Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a news release. “We cannot afford to miss this opportunity to place clean transportation technology and infrastructure at the center of the nation’s economic recovery.”

They also pledged to focus on deploying clean trucks in disadvantaged communities, which often bear the brunt of air pollution.

Technology Push

Diesel Technology Forum Executive Director Allen Schaeffer said the agreement’s focus on electric vehicles was missing short-term benefits that could be realized by expanding options for low-carbon biofuels and cleaner diesel technology, which has been around since 2010.

Of the governments signing the agreement, 43% of registered diesel trucks employ the newest technology, which Schaeffer said reduces emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides by 98%. Turning over the existing 57% of the fleet to cleaner diesel now would have an impact that the agreement does not consider.

“We all want clean energy and the more efficient technology,” Schaeffer said in a phone interview. “I think it’s important to have as many technologies as possible.”

The Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

More than two dozen groups, foundations, and companies sent a letter to the governors, urging them to sign the agreement.

“This multi-state effort is vitally important to enable cost-effective electrification of commercial vehicles at the pace and scale needed to meet state climate and air quality goals and deliver public health and economic benefits for communities and businesses alike,” according to the letter, signed by DHL, PepsiCo Inc., Unilever NV, Seventh Generation, and others.

(Updated to include industry response. )

To contact the reporter on this story: Emily C. Dooley at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at; Chuck McCutcheon at