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Zero emissions truck plan gets green light from Oregon regulators

Rachael McDonald

Oregon regulators on Wednesday approved a plan to shift heavy trucks and buses away from carbon-polluting fuel by gradually replacing much of the fleet with electric vehicles.

The Environmental Quality Commission adopted the new clean truck rules as an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and harmful pollution starting in 2024.The commission’s chair, Kathleen George, called it a historic step.

“I think Oregon is really stepping up to join California’s lead in transitioning our fleet to cleaner fuel,” she said following the vote. “We couldn’t ignore that transportation accounts for about 40% of [Oregon] greenhouse gas emissions.

Within the transportation sector, heavy vehicles are an outsized source of carbon pollution. The Department of Environmental Quality says 23% of Oregon’s greenhouse gas pollution comes from heavy-duty trucks and buses.

The burning of fossil fuels — coal, oil and natural gas — contributes to climate change. The resulting carbon pollution being trapped in the atmosphere is raising average temperatures, resulting in warmer, wetter, and stormier winters and hotter, drier summers. Consequences include flooding, vanishing glaciers, drought and more severe wildfires.

The Advanced Clean Truck rule requires manufacturers of medium and heavy-duty vehicles, large pickup trucks, buses and tractor-trailer rigs to sell a certain percentage of zero emissions electric vehicles starting with the 2025 model year. The commission also voted to require these manufacturers to meet tougher emission standards for nitrogen oxides pollution and to update low emissions vehicle rules so they align with those set by California.

Environmental, health and clean air advocates praised Wednesday’s vote, saying adding more clean and electric trucks on the road will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state. The rules will also help reduce respiratory illnesses like asthma.

“Clean Trucks are an investment for a climate-smart future and a tremendous investment in public health, especially for low-income communities and Black, Indigenous, and communities of color, which are disproportionately located near highways and busy truck corridors where diesel pollution is most concentrated,” Climate Solutions’ Oregon Transportation Policy Manager Victoria Paykar said

Oregon Trucking Associations President Jana Jarvis said she is disappointed DEQ did not consider delaying the implementation of the rules. She said the association would prefer federal standard rules instead of states adopting their own requirements. She also said this will have a negative impact on equipment manufacturers and Oregon dealerships. One of her bigger concerns is the lack of power capacity for both electric batteries as well as lack of charging stations around the state.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Daimler's eCascadia and the eM2 are two of the first electric semi-trucks to hit the highways.
Courtesy of Daimler Trucks North America /
Daimler's eCascadia and the eM2 are two of the first electric semi-trucks to hit the highways.

Monica Samayoa, David Steves