California Clean Air Rule Could Mean fewer Gas-Powered Trucks and Big Rigs

Jun 24, 2020

Credit pxfuel

The California Air Resources Board will be voting on a rule to electrify trucks and big rigs on Thursday. KVCR’s Megan Jamerson has more on how this could affect the Inland Empire.

Advocates say a yes vote on the Advanced Clean Trucks regulation would be a win for the Inland Empire. Especially neighborhoods impacted by the diesel pollution from the region’s thriving warehouse and logistics industry.

“I don’t want to say this is the only solution, but this is one of the solutions when it comes to addressing diesel pollution,” said Anthony Victoria-Midence, spokesperson for the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice.

The rule if approved, would be the first of its kind in the nation—requiring truck manufacturers over the next 15 years to switch more than half of their production of gas-powered vehicles over to electric-battery and hydrogen-powered models.

Trucks currently account for 25 percent of diesel pollution according to the California Air Resources Board. This is why Victoria-Midence who has been working with the Sierra Club to raise awareness, says not only would this address the disproportionate effect of pollution on minority and low-income communities, but create jobs in infrastructure roles needed to facilitate the switch.  

Dr. Jimmy O’Dea, a senior vehicles analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists agrees this rule would be a big first step to more days of clean air and reducing the haze that hangs over the Inland Empire.

“The big part of the rule is that it sends a market signal to truck manufactures, that electric technologies are where they need to be going,” said O'Dea.

Some manufacturers like Ford and General Motors have expressed their support for an all-electric future, but several fuel groups were critical of the rule in public comments saying it’s moving too fast, and that it discourages competition from other technologies like hybrid.

O’Dea says with the rule, Californians could expect approximately 300,000 trucks to be on the road by 2035 up from the hundreds seen today. Now that only represents 15 percent of the trucks in the state. This he says shows if anything the rule isn’t strong enough since we know we have to get most if not all diesel trucks off the road to meet state emissions goals.

“Industry certainly has a vested financial interest in sticking with diesel technology," said O'Dea. "But that is not in the interest of public health or climate change.”

He is optimistic the rule will pass and says after decades of research and development on electric technologies, the state is ready to begin the transition.