New California Rule Would Ban Sale of Diesel Trucks by 2036
The regulation, which must be approved by the federal government, is the latest in a series of ambitious moves by the state to cut planet-warming pollution from vehicles.
California state regulators approved on Friday a ban on the sale of new big rigs and buses that run on diesel by 2036, going beyond the federal government in issuing requirements to reduce emissions and setting the stage for other states to follow suit.
The rule is the latest in a series of increasingly ambitious moves by California and the federal government to curb planet-warming pollution from vehicles, the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gases.
The California Air Resources Board approved the regulation, which by 2045 would fully eliminate the sale of new trucks that emit carbon dioxide across the state. The rule builds in intermediate goals in the coming years for government organizations and private companies to decrease their use of diesel trucks.
The ban, if approved by the federal government, would create the most stringent practices related to truck emissions in the country, keeping California at the forefront of states in trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Some large companies have already begun to use heavy-duty vehicles that emit little to no carbon dioxide, but the plan would require a complete transition in new truck purchases by 2036.
“This rule provides manufacturers, truck owners and fueling providers the assurance that there will be a market and the demand for zero-emissions vehicles, while providing a flexible path to making the transition toward clean air,” Liane Randolph, chair of the board, said in a statement.
But the American Trucking Associations, a trade organization for the trucking industry, criticized the ban, saying that it has worked to significantly reduce emissions but needs more flexibility. Chris Spear, the president and chief executive of the group, said California was setting “unrealistic targets and unachievable timelines” that will increase costs.
The state hopes the ban will save money related to health costs caused by pollution, including asthma attacks and respiratory illness.
Why It Matters
When California, the nation’s largest car and truck market, sets new rules on tailpipe pollution, it has an impact across the rest of the country — and the world. The state has for decades been at the vanguard of the nation’s clean air regulations. California is unique among the states in that the 1970 Clean Air Act allows it to set tighter air pollution rules than those used by the federal government — and historically, when it does so, the federal government often follows. While the ban on diesel truck sales would be the only one of its kind in the world, many other states and, eventually, the federal government could enact similar policies, which could in turn influence global policies, since trucks are manufactured and driven around the world.
California and the Biden administration have spent the past two years working closely to advance a series of increasingly ambitious regulations designed to curb climate-warming and other pollutants from vehicle tailpipes. In April, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed new regulations designed to ensure that two-thirds of new passenger cars and a quarter of new heavy trucks sold in the United States are all-electric by 2032. Those proposals were designed to complement a 2022 California rule banning the sale of new gasoline-powered cars after 2035, as well as a 2020 California rule requiring that half of all garbage trucks, tractor-trailers, cement mixers and other heavy vehicles sold in the state must be all-electric by 2035.
In December, the E.P.A. finalized new rules limiting smog-forming pollution from trucks that would cut nitrogen oxide from the vehicles by 48 percent by 2045. That rule was influenced by a stronger 2020 California rule intended to reduce such pollution 90 percent by 2045.
The new California rule cannot be implemented until the E.P.A. grants the state a waiver under the Clean Air Act to legally enforce it. The Biden administration has already granted the state similar waivers to enact other vehicle pollution rules that are stronger than Washington’s, and it is likely to grant this one. However, when former President Donald J. Trump was in office, he revoked a similar waiver allowing California to set auto tailpipe pollution standards that were tougher than those used by the federal government. A future president could revoke the truck pollution waiver.