The new truck standards are aimed at companies that make trucks and those that own large quantities of them. Companies owning 50 or more trucks will have to report information to the state about how they use these trucks to ship goods and provide shuttle services. Manufacturers will have to sell a higher percentage of zero-emission vehicles starting in 2024. Depending on the class of truck, zero-emission ones will have to make up 40% to 75% of sales by 2035.
California has a long legacy of adopting stricter tailpipe emission standards, even before the federal Clean Air Act was signed into law, said Paul Cort, a lawyer with environmental nonprofit Earthjustice.
"We have a vehicle problem," Cort said. "We’re addicted to our cars and trucks, and that’s a big cause of the air pollution that we’re fighting."
But Wayne Winegarden, senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, said it’s too soon to adopt the California standards.
"The charging infrastructure is certainly not there," he said about powering stations for electric vehicles. "And on top of the charging infrastructure, we have the grid issues."
While California was hit this winter by atmospheric river storms that soaked much of the state, it has for years suffered from drought conditions, and in September, a brutal heat wave put its electricity grid to the test (PDF).
The announcement came as advocates are pushing for more ambitious tailpipe emissions standards in other states and at the national level.
"We don’t just fight for California, we fight for all of the communities," said Jan Victor Andasan, activist with East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. The group advocates for better air quality in and around Los Angeles, the nation’s second-most populous city, which is known for its dense traffic and intense smog.
Andasan and other environmental activists from across the country who are part of the Moving Forward Network, a 50-member group based at Occidental College in Los Angeles, met with EPA officials recently to discuss national regulations to limit emissions from trucks and other vehicles.
But some in the trucking industry are concerned about how costly and burdensome the transition will be for truck drivers and companies.
"The state and federal regulators collaborating on this unrealistic patchwork of regulations have no grasp on the real costs of designing, building, manufacturing and operating the trucks that deliver their groceries, clothes and goods," said Chris Spear, president of the American Trucking Associations, in a statement.