Considering the trucking industry is gearing up for the new greenhouse gas Phase 2 emissions regulations, one would think the California Air Resources Board (CARB) would be taking a hiatus as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gets to work. Except, that isn’t the case.
Their new set of goals aims to explore and expand on zero-emission vehicle technologies. At the time, CARB is not backing this up with any planned laws or regulations, industry experts anticipate that this new look could lead to new environmental mandates on diesel-powered vehicles that could complicate matters where it comes to moving freight in the state.
As Goes California…
California is different from other states in that it has a singular goal of reducing petroleum use, statewide. Pressure comes from the top and filters on down through the state’s agencies, where reducing emissions is concerned.
Just last year, California legislators attempted to pass a bill that would have cut petroleum use in the state by a full half. While that didn’t pass, it led to what we see today, which is an increasing focus on finding realistic ways to develop, field and mass produce zero- or near-zero emissions commercial motor vehicles.
Some may say, “Well, I don’t run in California.” In reality, that doesn’t matter. California is not an island. California has an economic engine that dwarfs that of most countries, let alone states. When CARB passes a rule, it ripples out across the industry.
Some say the changes that may come out of these new initiatives should take into account more than just the vehicle side of the equation. Might California do better to concentrate on modernizing its infrastructure rather than targeting diesel trucks? There are two sides to every argument.
The Other Side
CARB contends that the actions they take to further zero-emission and clean combustion technologies will have benefits that stretch far beyond the bottom line. According to some estimates, California has some of the most polluted cities in the country. The state faces a very challenging problem in figuring out a way to meet federal air quality and emissions standards while not harming its strong economic engine.
So what are CARB’s new guidelines? Specifically, they seek to:
- Ensure all federal health-based air quality standards are met. Key milestones are set for 2023 and 2031.
- Reduce their greenhouse gas footprint by 40 percent by 2030.
- Reduce their greenhouse gas footprint by 80 percent by 2050.
- Halve petroleum use in the state by 2030.
Considering the new federal ozone standards are set to a tough level, fleets will have to put in extra effort to meet them. This will require major changes across the industry, whether you are talking about industrial, transportation or manufacturing.
What CARB is essentially doing is attempting to lay the foundation for emissions reductions on multiple levels. From cleaner engine technologies to renewable fuels and zero-emission technology, California aims to end up with reductions that come in 90% cleaner than today’s standards.
Actions CARB is Taking
CARB is moving aggressively to plant the seeds that will grow into these changes. The agency is thinking beyond merely heavy-duty vehicles and is focusing on off-road equipment and more. These actions include steps to deploy zero-emissions technologies across a broad spectrum of equipment types, from busses to forklifts and airport ground support equipment.
Still, these actions go further than just aiming their intent at heavy-duty commercial vehicles. They will also affect other aspects of the freight network. Other measures outlines include a desire to see a quarter percent improvement in freight system efficiency by 2030.
While some say CARB is overreaching, the fact is no rules or regulations have been specifically mandated just yet. At this point, trucking will have to wait and see what the Golden State decides.