clean transportation and alternative fuels

Gasoline and diesel transportation fuels represent a major share of America’s most pernicious air pollution, water-borne toxins, and climate emissions. CEERT has been working to clean up CO2 from cars and trucks, promote electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles and their recharging/refueling infrastructure, and bring about smarter transportation and development planning.

Recent Developments:

Advanced Clean Cars (ACC)

The Federal Reset

The US Environmental Protection Agency issued a revised waiver on March 14 reinstituting California’s authority to require automobile manufacturers (OEMs) to meet vehicle pollution emissions standards more stringent than those set by the federal government.  The re-issuance of this waiver rescinded the Trump Administration’s attempt to block California’s longstanding authority to regulate air pollution, granted under the Federal Clean Air Act, and to prevent the states that follow California’s lead from adopting similar vehicle regulations.  California is now free to continue implementing new criteria-pollutant emissions standards for 2027 and later model-year passenger vehicles as a step toward its goal of requiring all passenger vehicles sold in the state to be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2035.

17 states have now adopted California’s Clean Car Standards.  The EPA’s March 14 reinstatement of California’s waiver authority enables these 17 states to resume their own clean cars programs.

On April 1, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration issued its revised Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards for model year 2024-2026 passenger vehicles and issued an order that  restored the application of an increased CAFÉ civil penalty rate beginning retroactively with model year 2019.  The penalty amount had been raised in a 2016 NHTSA ruling from $5.50 to $14 per tenth of a mile of violation in all automakers’ fleet average mileage requirement.  The new $14 rate applies through model year 2021 and increases to $15 for model year 2022.

NHTSA’s new mileage standards aim to increase fuel efficiency by 8% annually for model years 2024-2025 and 10% in model year 2026.  The net effect should be an increase of nearly 10 miles per gallon for model year 2026, relative to model year 2021.  NHTSA estimates that overall fleet average mileage for light trucks and passenger cars should increase to more than 49 mpg in 2026, and avoid the use of 60 billion gallons of fuel through 2030.

California’s Work

CARB is nearing the finish line for its second generation of Advanced Clean Cars regulations (ACC II).  On February 1, the Department of Finance posted CARB’s Draft Standardized Regulatory Impact Assessment for the ACC II amendments CARB was considering.  On April 15, CARB released the Ini­tial State­ment of Reasons and draft regulations that justify the provisions in Staff’s proposal.  CARB has asked for comments by May 31, with a hearing on the regulations at the Board’s June 9-10 meeting, followed by potential adoption of the regulatory package at its August 11 meeting.

While CARB Staff did nominally increase EV sales requirements, partly in response to the advocacy of CEERT and our allies in the ACC Coalition, we maintain our concerns about potential shortfalls in the required deployment for ZEV cars and light trucks between 2026 and 2030.  These shortfalls stem from CARB Staff’s insistence on using what the Coalition sees as overly conserva­tive cost estimates, and on the discounting of recent industry trends, with EV sales growth in many other countries already out­pac­ing the growth of sales in California.  CARB Staff are recommending a target of roughly 68% ZEV sales by 2030, and reject two alternative scenarios for either 70% or 100% sales targets by 2030.  CEERT and our allies maintain that CARB should adhere as closely as possible to the targets cited in their own scenarios as being essential for the state to achieve its air quality goals and its 100% ZEV sales target in 2035.

While CARB Staff acknowledge environmental justice and equity issues as important considerations, the Coalition is disappointed that Staff included some voluntary options for OEM incentives that decrease their ZEV sales obligation, and did not include any mandatory require­ments incentivizing the OEMs to work with marginalized communities on the deployment and use of ZEVs.  The Coalition advocates that CARB Staff require OEMs to participate in equity projects through which they may earn additional cred­its, while including disincentives for non-participation and avoiding any decreased ZEV sales obliga­tion.

While the proposed regulation will require increased investments by OEMs, Staff estimate that through 2040 the regulations will yield a net cost-savings of $81.8 billion to Californians, reduce NOx emissions by 30.1 tons per day, PM2.5 by 2 tons per day, and CO2 emissions by 57.4 million metric tons per year. Staff also estimate that the proposed regulation could result in 1,272 fewer cardiopulmonary deaths; 208 fewer hospital admissions for cardiovascular illness; 249 fewer hospital admissions for respiratory illness; and 639 fewer asthma-related emergency room visits.

A Continent Uniting

CEERT continues to work with Canadian NGOs to encourage the Canadian federal government to develop and implement a stringent ZEV policy.  On March 29 the government released its updated “2030 Emissions Reduction Plan” (ERP), and on April 7 it issued its 2022 Climate and Energy Security Budget.  The ERP sets out an economy-wide GHG reduction target of 40 to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030, and commits to establish a regulation for new passenger cars that will require ZEV sales to reach 20% by 2026, 60% by 2030, and 100% by 2035.  The 2022 Budget commits $1.7 billion in new funding that expands the Federal iZEV (Incentives for ZEVs) program, and introduces a new purchase incentive for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (see more under Clean Trucks in Canada below).

The funds will extend the program until March 2025 and allot $900 million to install an additional 50,000 public EV chargers: $500 million for large-scale urban and commercial ZEV charging and refueling infrastructure, and $400 million for deployment of ZEV charging infrastructure in suburban and remote communities.  $2.2 million will be allocated over five years to facilitate the transition of the federal vehicle fleet to ZEVs.  The Budget also includes $3.8 billion over eight years to implement a “critical mineral strategy,” and proposes funding for a Pan-Canadian Grid Council to promote clean electricity planning and investment with the provinces, territories, and utilities.

CEERT is supporting the Canadian NGOs as they advocate for the government to have the program in place by 2023, while maintaining an open consultative process.  The “all-hands-on-deck” nature of this undertaking will require the combined efforts of a full range of stakeholders.

Clean Truck Regulations

Advanced Clean Fleet Regulation

CARB Staff is working on  the Advanced Clean Fleet Regulation (ACF Rule) to complement the ACT and Low-NOx Omnibus Rules, reduce truck pollution, and prime the market for state, public and private fleets to transition to 100% zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty trucks (ZETs).  On April 25 CARB released revisions to its Draft Regulatory Text for the ACF Rule, and scheduled workshops to discuss the draft on May 2 (High-Priority and Federal Fleets), May 4 (State and Local Government Fleets), and
May 6 (Drayage Trucks).   Staff will put the final package before the Board possibly in October.

CEERT and other members of the ACT/ACF Coalition are advocating for the earliest, widest, and most ambi­tious adoption of ZETs while ensuring that the greatest benefits go to disadvantaged and low-income com­munities.  Largely in response to the Coalition’s advocacy, CARB Staff have updated their proposed package to include light-duty last-mile package delivery vehicles with a 100% ZET sales requirement by 2035.  We in the Coalition remain vigilant about any continuation of the trucking industry’s worker ex­ploi­tation through misclassifying drivers who operate 70 to 90% of California’s drayage trucks.

On March 10 the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management issued the Draft Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicle Action Plan, developed with input from environmental justice and community advocates, which sets a goal of 30% of new truck and bus sales being ZEVs by 2030 and 100% by 2050.  The fact that the number of zero emission options is rapidly increasing and a recent study conducted for Environmental Defense Fund suggest that these states could adopt more ambi­tious targets and timelines.  NESCAUM is accepting comments on the Draft Action Plan until May 9.

On March 29 Nevada signed on as the 17th state to join the Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicle initiative. The signatory states represent about one-third of the U.S. truck market.

Federal Clean Truck Regulations

On March 7  the Biden Administration announced it would be issuing the first of its Federal Clean Truck rulemaking proposals establishing updated criteria emission standards for medium and heavy duty trucks, the first updating of these standards in 20 years.  (A second set of regulations on updating the GHG stand­ards for trucks – including ZET targets? – should come in the next year.)  The proposal is a combination of two alternatives: Option 1 adheres loosely to what California has done with its Low-NOx Omnibus Rule,  and Option 2 is a less stringent alternative that is little more than business as usual.  None of the proposal addresses the inclusion of ZETs as a means of reducing criteria or climate pollution from truck­ing, and thus is expected to limit total trucking emissions by only 60% by 2045.

The EPA should adopt a more stringent version of Option 1 that sets the timeline for industry com­pliance closer to California’s, thereby avoiding a four-year lag, and sets a target of achieving 90% aggregate NOx emission reductions by 2045 through the use of ZETs.  The EPA should also adopt California’s updated approach to testing and certification for trucks with internal combustion engines that more closely aligns with real world driving and use. This should include any certification under low engine loads and at low speeds frequently encountered near ports and warehouse districts, which account for more than 50% of truck NOx emissions and directly impact already overburdened local communities.

The EPA held virtual hearings on April 12-14, and accepted comments through May 13.

Clean Trucks in Canada

The Canadian government has signed the Global Memorandum of Understanding on Zero-emis­sion Medium- and Heavy-duty Vehicles, agreeing to seek zero-emission truck and bus sales of 35% by 2030 and 100% by 2040.  The number of heavy-duty trucks in Canada is growing about 2% per year, but deploy­ment of ZETs is increasing at a “much slower rate” than for passenger vehicles.  Canada has an­nounced that it will invest $780.9 million in medium- and heavy-duty ZETs over the next five years: $547.5 million for a new purchase incentive program and $33.8 million for harmonizing regula­tions and safety testing.  Another $500 million will be invested in large-scale urban and commercial ZEV charging and refueling infrastructure.  CEERT is supporting the Canadian NGOs in advocating that the Canadian government leverage the work California has already done, and design sales mandate targets that rapidly align with those already set by California and the signatories to the Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicle Initiative, which account for roughly 50% of the U.S. economy and 40% of goods movement using trucks.

Clean Transportation Investments

On January 26 Governor Newsom announced an additional $6.1 billion in the 2022-23 State Budget (in addition to last year’s $3.9 billion) in funding for ZEVs.  Major portions of the disbursements are:

  • Low-Income Zero-Emission Vehicles and Infrastructure
    • $256 million to subsidize EV purchases for low-income consumers;
    • $900 million to expand public charging in low-income neighborhoods.
  • Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicles and Supporting Infrastructure
    • $935 million to add 1,000 zero-emission short-haul (drayage) trucks and 1,700 zero-emission transit buses;
    • $1.5 billion to support electric school buses;
    • $1.1 billion for zero-emission trucks, buses, off-road equipment, and fueling infrastructure;
    • $400 million to enable port electrification.
  • Zero-Emission Mobility
    • $419 million for projects that increase EV access in low-income communities.
  • Emerging Opportunities
    • $200 million for demonstration and pilot projects in high carbon-emitting sectors, including maritime, aviation and rail.

There is strong support for at least this level of funding among environmental, public health, and envi­ron­mental justice and community advocates.  However, with the increasing size of the state’s record budget surplus, this advocacy community is asking that more investment be directed to low-income com­munities and communities of color, which bear a disproportionate share of the economic and envi­ronmental impacts from the use of fossil transportation fuels.

On April 5, the CEC released the Staff Draft of its 2022-2023 Investment Plan Update for the Clean Transportation Program.  The Update combines the regular annual Clean Transportation Program (CTP) funding for FY 2022–2023 and projections for the remainder of its term, includes some of the general fund ZEV Package investments from the Budget Act of 2021, and totals $142.8 million in CTP funding and $380 million from the General Fund:

  • $43.9 million (CTP) Zero-Emission Vehicles and Infrastructure (Light-Duty Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure and eMobility)
  • $298.9 million ($43.9 (CTP) + $255.0 (GF)) Zero-Emission Vehicles and Infrastructure (Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicles and Infrastructure: battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cells)
  • $30 million (CTP) Zero-Emission Vehicles and Infrastructure (Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure)
  • $15 million (CTP) Alternative Fuel Production and Supply (Zero- and Near Zero-Carbon Fuel Production and Supply)
  • $125 million (GF) Related Needs and Opportunities (Manufacturing)
  • $10 million (CTP) Related Needs and Opportunities (Workforce Training and Development)

In the April 12 CTP Advisory Committee meeting, broad support was offered for the Draft Update.  The Governor’s revised budget proposal includes an additional $2 billion for ZEVs, with more than $1 bil­lion targeted to medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses.  CEERT and members of the broad-based NGO-ZEV Coalition are working with state agencies on fine-tuning the proposed in­vest­ments that can be deployed before the May revision of the state budget goes to the Legislature.