Graphic: American Trucking Associations

In Fall 2022, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced its proposed Advanced Clean Fleets program. A hallmark of ACF was the mandatory purchase of zero-emission trucks when replacing vehicles. For some fleets, that requirement would kick in as early as 2024. However, as an option, affected carriers could choose to convert from 10% to 50% of their California fleet to zero-emission trucks by 2031

Other provisions of the ACF included:

  • A zero-emission truck regulation applicable to all fleets of 50 or more trucks or $50 million in annual revenue – including fleets based outside of California – so long as just one fleet truck operated in the state.
  • The application of that regulation to any sized drayage fleet operating at California ports or rail yards.
  • An expansive definition of commercial trucks – those with a gross vehicle weight rating of 8,500 pounds or more.
  • Significant new recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

Trucking industry comments to CARB on this proposal focused on the agency’s aggressive timetable, the near absence of zero-emission trucks in the marketplace, and the delays in electric charging infrastructure.

CARB is now working through some possible time extensions and program adjustments, including a fleet’s ability to purchase a new diesel truck with a CARB-certified engine if it cannot obtain electric trucks. CARB intends to require significant justification for any time extension. Details will be revealed at a CARB workshop on Feb. 13. The full California Air Resources Board will vote on the ACF in late April.

The CARB Advanced Clean Fleets program will impact fleets operating in other states. Several other states have already adopted or are considering regulations to require zero-emission vehicles. The Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) initiative requires manufacturers who sell medium- and heavy-duty- vehicles in an ACT state to meet an increasing percentage of zero-emissions vehicles in their annual sales from 2024 to 2035. In addition to California, ACT regulations are the law in Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont. ACT rulemakings are also underway in Connecticut, Maryland, Maine, and North Carolina.

Other jurisdictions – Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and the District of Columbia – have pledged a zero-emission Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to achieve 100% electric trucks by 2050, with an interim goal of 30% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2030.

In the meantime, CARB is also significantly expanding its heavy-duty emissions inspection program. Beginning late 2022, roadside emissions monitoring devices began screening for high-emitting heavy-duty trucks. Identified polluters can be required to submit to testing by state-certified technicians, who may require emission control repairs. This new program applies to all trucks, regardless of state of registration.

On July 1, 2023, all trucks operating in California will be required to register with a CARB database and pay an annual $30 per vehicle fee. CARB may allow a two- to three-month phase-in of the registration requirement. CARB will use that database to enforce semi-annual emissions testing by fleets and submission of the results to CARB. The $30 per vehicle fee, however, may face the long history of successful interstate commerce litigation against “unapportioned flat fees.”

This move by CARB comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in December 2022 released final, new rules that set stronger emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles and engines, starting with the 2027 model year. Truck engine manufacturers have opposed this proposal as being unrealistic.

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