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Environmental, Trucking Industry Stakeholders Weigh In On California’s First-Of-Its-Kind Electric Truck Sales Rule

TURLOCK, CA - AUGUST 03:  A semi-truck manuevers around a traffic cone during training at the Western Trucking School August 3, 2005 in Turlock, California. According to the American Trucking Association, the trucking industry is currently facing a shortage of more than 20,000 drivers, a number that is expected to grow to over 100,000 in the next 10 years as interest in trucking jobs wanes mostly due to low pay and the extended time away from home. Eighty-five percent of all goods in the United States are moved by trucks.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A semi-truck manuevers around a traffic cone during training at the Western Trucking School August 3, 2005 in Turlock, California.

California regulators approved new rules on Thursday that would force automakers to sell more electric work trucks and delivery vans, a first-of-its-kind rule aimed at helping the nation’s most populous state clean up its worst-in-the-nation air quality.

California regulators approved new rules on Thursday that would force automakers to sell more electric work trucks and delivery vans, a first-of-its-kind rule aimed at helping the nation’s most populous state clean up its worst-in-the-nation air quality.

The rules require a certain percentage of work truck sales each year to be zero emission vehicles. By the time its fully implemented in 2035, the board estimates at least 15% of the 1.2 million trucks on the road would run on electricity and that it would create thousands of new jobs. Over 100 people called into the California Air Resources Board’s meeting Thursday, mostly offering their support during hours-long public comment. Dozens said their neighborhoods were choking on air pollution from diesel fuel, particularly threatening the lung health of poor and minority communities, which has gained more prominence amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Supporters included a group representing environmental agencies from eight states in the Northeast, from New York to Maine, whose officials said it would create a road map for reducing emissions on trucking routes and propel the market toward electrification. Regulators said they were determined to quickly address fears electric trucks would go unsold, aiming to establish rules next year that would require companies to purchase zero emission trucks from manufacturers, meant to ensure there is demand for the supply. The Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association argued the new rule would eventually “collapse” because there are not enough charging stations. Critics argue requiring the industry to sell more electric trucks won’t succeed without first requiring companies to buy more of them. Staff for the board said work on such rules is ongoing and added that demand already exists for bulk orders of electric trucks.

Today on AirTalk, we’ll hear from a panel of guests who each have a stake in this first-of-its-kind rule.

With files from the Associated Press

Guests:

Jimmy O’Dea, senior vehicles analyst in the Clean Vehicles program at the Union of Concerned Scientists; he tweets

Anthony Victoria-Midence, communications director with the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, a nonprofit organization advocating for policies that work toward a zero-emission future and environmentally sustainable communities; he tweets

Fred Johring, president of Golden State Logistics and chairman of the Harbor Trucking Association, a coalition of intermodal freight carriers serving America’s West Coast Ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach; he tweets

Tim Blubaugh, executive vice president of the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association, a group that represents worldwide manufacturers of internal combustion engines and on-highway medium- and heavy-duty trucks

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