By John Hugh DeMastri
The Biden administration has given California permission to go ahead with a set of environmental regulations that would eventually result in a statewide ban on diesel-powered heavy duty trucks, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Friday.
California had been seeking federal approval under the Clean Air Act to implement the strict regulations, which would ban the sale of diesel-powered heavy-duty vehicles in the state after 2045, and require more than half of diesel trucks be all-electric by 2035. California has previously implemented rules that would forbid the sale of gas-powered cars after 2035, and six other states are expected to follow California’s lead with similar regulations now that it has received federal approval, according to the New York Times.
“California leads the way once again,” said the state’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in a tweet Friday. “Time to stop playing small ball.”
The proposed regulations had drawn criticism from the American Trucking Association, who told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement last week that the proposal would cause “catastrophic disruptions” outside of California. Steve Bradbury, a former lawyer for both the Trump and Bush administrations, told the DCNF that the EPA granting California permission to go ahead with the rules was along “one single state” to “essentially dictate the regulation of interstate commerce” since it would uneconomical for truckmakers to produce two different sets of trucks for California and other states.
Newsom seemed to acknowledge the state’s ability to shift the national market in an interview with the NYT Friday.
“This is a moment to mark because it’s a preview of the order of magnitude of the change in the industry,” Newsom told the outlet. “There’s a power in these waivers and that power is emulation. We adopt through these waivers the principles and policies that lead to innovation and investment.”
The move would make Californian environmental rules, as well as those of the six states expected to follow in its footsteps, more aggressive than the standards currently implemented by the Biden administration under the Clean Air Act. With less than 2% of heavy-duty trucks sold in the U.S. being all-electric in 2022, truckers have said that the rules were too aggressive and the weight of electric batteries — which are thousands of pounds heavier than traditional combustion engines — would limit the amount of cargo a truck could haul, according to the NYT.
“A lot of the California truck rules that have been adopted and enacted recently are starting to push truck drivers out of the state,” Jay Grimes, director of federal affairs at the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “Drivers don’t want to work in California anymore. They’re skeptical of the rapid timeline on this transition to electric trucks. Can a trucker get a charge that will take them on a highway for two or three days? Is the technology ready for prime time?”
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