Industry and Businesses Call for EPA to Grant Waivers to California and Other States
More than two dozen companies and business groups today sent a letter calling upon the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow California and other states to set ambitious rules that will grow the market for clean medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, as well as the industries needed to support them.
Signed by 34 companies and organizations including ChargePoint, DSM North America, Lightning Motors, Panasonic, Proterra, Siemens, Rivian, and Tesla, the letter was sent as the federal agency considers whether to approve waivers sought by California under the Clean Air Act.
The waivers would allow California to implement a suite of heavy-duty vehicle regulations, including its Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) rule, which would set strong sales targets for electric trucks and vans in the coming years. In addition, California is seeking approval to implement the Heavy-Duty Omnibus (HDO) rule, which would require that future diesel-powered large commercial trucks be equipped with technology to dramatically reduce nitrogen oxide pollution, which is dangerous to public health.
“These policies will foster globally competitive components, vehicle, and infrastructure industries in the United States and will provide savings to fleets and companies like ours that use medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in their business,” the companies said in the letter.
The EPA’s decision would extend well beyond California. The ACT rule has been adopted by five other states: Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington. These six states cumulatively represent 20% of the market for these trucks and vans, and still more states have signaled their interest in adoption. The HDO rule has also been adopted by Massachusetts and Oregon.
Each state has gone through deliberative public processes to approve the rules. However, none of them can implement either rule without federal approval from the EPA.
“California’s clean trucks regulations are driving significant industry investment in medium- and heavy-duty ZEVs, and will deliver crucial climate, air quality, and public health benefits,” said Chris Nevers, Senior Director of Public Policy, Rivian. “As we ramp up production of our electric trucks and vans, manufacturers like Rivian are ready to meet the moment. We urge EPA to grant California’s requests for waivers to allow implementation of these important rules without delay.”
“Forward-looking policies such as the Advanced Clean Trucks rule have an important role to play in driving the commercialization of medium- and heavy-duty EVs,” said JoAnn Covington, Chief Legal Officer and Head of Government Relations, Proterra. “Proterra is proud to help spur this critical transformation to zero-emission transportation with our EV technology platform designed for medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicles and demonstrated through more than 25 million miles driven by our electric transit buses across North America. By granting the waivers, EPA can enhance the market for medium- and heavy-duty EVs, which will reduce the amount of harmful pollution and greenhouse gases generated by the transportation sector.”
“At DSM we are committed to achieving a rapid transition to clean vehicles, and these waivers will play an important role in our ability to achieve that goal,” said Hugh Walsh, President, DSM North America. “By helping to drive economies of scale within the industry, these policies will support a globally competitive U.S. auto industry, allow us to save money as a company, and help reduce pollution and climate risks.”
“Granting these crucial waiver requests will help ensure stakeholders can fully realize the decarbonization and clean air benefits of fleet electrification,” said Abby Campbell Singer, head of climate and infrastructure policy, Siemens. “We encourage EPA to prioritize this crucial effort so as a country we can continue the successful transition to cleaner, electrified transportation.”
Corporate interest in electric vehicles is already very high, as companies see them both as an important tool to meet their climate goals, and a way to reduce costs on fuel and maintenance. Accounting for those costs, research has found that electric commercial trucks are already more affordable for companies than traditional models. However, their availability remains low.
Because the ACT rule would require truck manufacturers to sell an increasing number of electric vehicles, growing over time to 75% of sales for some models by 2035, it would kickstart the kinds of bulk orders and production that will lower vehicle costs, create jobs, and quickly grow the market.
The HDO rule, meanwhile, would dramatically cut harmful pollution that causes serious health problems like heart and lung disease. In California alone, the policy is expected to result in savings of more than $37 billion in health benefits through 2050 — an improvement that would be especially felt in the highly polluted communities located near highways, freight centers, and ports.
The Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance, which works with companies to accelerate the shift to clean commercial vehicles across the U.S., submitted a separate letter to the EPA in support of the waivers.
The EPA’s waiver considerations also include emission warranties for heavy-duty engines, the Zero-Emission Airport Shuttle standard, and the Zero-Emission Powertrain Certification standard.
Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles power the U.S. economy, and they play an outsized role in affecting climate change and air pollution. While they account for just 10% of vehicles on U.S. roads, they produce about 28% of all climate-changing emissions from on-road vehicles, and an even higher fraction of toxic pollutants. The rules under consideration at the EPA are critical to helping companies shift to cleaner and more efficient delivery systems and supply chains, allowing the economy to flourish without these harmful effects, experts say.
The rules are also crucial to states as they move to meet their increasingly ambitious climate goals. They are under EPA review at a time when President Biden has pledged to take strong action throughout the executive branch to confront the climate crisis and urged states to do the same.
“Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles represent one of the largest sources of global warming emissions and air pollution in the transportation sector, and their emissions are projected to materially increase in the years to come without policies such as the Advanced Clean Trucks and Heavy-Duty Omnibus standards. We urge EPA to grant all of the requested waivers so there is no delay in the transition to clean vehicles that our businesses are committed to achieving,” the letter reads.
The letter was organized by the sustainability nonprofit Ceres, which operates the Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance; the Zero Emission Transportation Association, an industry-backed coalition and advocacy group; and the clean transportation industry and advocacy group CALSTART.
It is the latest example of corporate advocacy for the ACT and HDO rules, as well as other measures to boost clean transportation initiatives. In September, for example, more than 70 large companies, employers, and investors urged states across the country to adopt the ACT rule. And over the last year and a half, more than 30 vehicle manufacturers and infrastructure providers have worked with Congress to secure the tax credit for zero-emission commercial vehicles in the Inflation Reduction Act.
As part of its advocacy to accelerate electric vehicle adoption, ZETA has endorsed a commercial medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicle tax credit in Congressional negotiations, published a white paper on medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fleet electrification, submitted public comments for stricter emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks, and encouraged widespread adoption of the clean trucks rule.