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Clean Trucks for the Future: Updates to Federal and State Fleet Emission Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed stricter emissions standards for new trucks with gross vehicle weight ratings greater than 8,500 pounds.

Breathing clean air is fundamental to human health and well-being. Each of us take approximately 25,000 breaths every day, and abundant research now shows that breathing polluted air is far more harmful than previously thought. Transportation emissions have a particularly large impact on human health and well-being. Studies have linked pollutants from vehicle exhaust to adverse impacts on nearly every organ system in the body, often disproportionally affecting low-income communities and people of color.

Although trucks are less than 10 percent of vehicles on the road, they are a major source of hazardous air pollutants. Truck emissions can affect more than just human health and well-being; they are also a major cause of global warming. Studies have found that 23 percent of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation come from heavy- and medium-duty trucks. Federal and state regulatory agencies have taken action to expedite a transition to cleaner trucks. Action that will, as noted recently by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan, “drastically cut dangerous pollution by harnessing recent advancements in vehicle technologies from across the trucking industry as it advances toward a zero-emissions transportation future.”

U.S. federal emission standards for engines and vehicles are established by the EPA. The EPA authority to regulate these emissions—and the air quality in general—is based on the Clean Air Act. Pursuant to this authority, in March of this year, EPA proposed stricter emissions standards for new trucks with gross vehicle weight ratings greater than 8,500 pounds. Set to take effect for the 2027 model year, the proposed standards will stimulate a transition to zero-emission vehicles and reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from trucks 60 percent by 2045. EPA last revised emissions standards for trucks and engines in 2001—more than 20 years ago. This proposal is the first of three steps outlined in President Biden’s executive order “Strengthening American Leadership in Clean Cars and Trucks.” The next steps, for the 2027 model and later, will set emissions standards for commercial pickup trucks and vans, and they will further tighten GHG emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks beginning as soon as 2030.

In addition to the new standards proposed and under development by EPA, several states have already adopted and/or proposed similar aggressive changes to current emissions standards. For example, in 2020 California adopted what it called the Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) regulation, which imposed a one-time reporting requirement for large employers. This includes retailers; manufacturers; brokers and others with annual gross revenue greater than $50 million and one or more truck with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 8,500 pounds; and fleet owners with 50 or more trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 8,500 pounds. The regulation requires manufacturers of commercial vehicles to start selling electric trucks in 2024 and to sell only electric trucks in California by 2045. Oregon, New Jersey, New York, Washington, and Massachusetts have also passed ACT regulation, largely based on California’s requirements, and 12 other states (Maryland, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Hawaii, Nevada, and the District of Columbia), plus the Canadian Province of Quebec, are actively considering ACT regulations.

APTIM has been following these developments closely and understands the significant number of choices they create for owners and operators of truck fleets. Our experts can assist with the data analysis, fleet reporting requirements, and technological solutions to enable a smooth transition to electric trucks, including the design of fleet charging infrastructure with construction options, timelines, and costs. For more information on ACT regulations or how APTIM can help you achieve a full transition to electric trucks, reach out the APTIM team today.


Amy Martinez, CHMM, PMP, TRUE Advisor
Client Program Manager

APTIM. In Pursuit of Better.

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