In the next decade, thousands of zero-emission trucks and buses could fill the roads.
On Tuesday, Massachusetts joined 14 other states in a commitment to accelerate the market for larger electric vehicles, so that by 2050 all new long-haul, pickup, delivery, and box trucks are powered by electricity. School and transit buses are also expected to be zero-emission vehicles.
“This is a huge step in the right direction,” said Emily Green, a senior attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation.“[It] signals the importance of state leadership and state action in the face of a federal government that is set on unwinding environmental protections.”
States involved in the bipartisan effort include California, Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. They spelled out their goals in a joint memorandum of understanding (MOU).
“As the MOU states represent nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population, by working with other states through this MOU the Commonwealth can have a much larger impact on air quality and emissions reduction,” according to a press release from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. “Trucks and buses account for nearly 25 percent of total transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions nationwide.”
These emissions are the single greatest drivers of climate change. To be sure they’re on track, the states said by 2030 at least one-third of all new trucks and buses should be electric.
This move will help states reach their climate change mitigation goals, Green said, and also reduce air pollution.
“This action today sends a strong signal that the American public is ready to go electric and we demand cleaner vehicles and cleaner air,” she said. “This is particularly important along trucking corridors and congested areas where low-income communities of color are disproportionately burdened by air pollution.”
The transportation sector generates more than 40 percent of Massachusetts’ greenhouse gas emissions.
In June, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) expanded the commonwealth’s electric vehicle rebate program, Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles (MOR-EV), to include commercial and nonprofit fleets.
“Electric trucks and buses are much further along than most people realize,” Green said.
Still, Green warned, these new goals will be hard to achieve given existing technology and costs, so the states will have to do even more.
“This regional agreement will need to be bolstered by enforceable state targets that recognize that some markets segments like transit and school buses should be held to more aggressive electrification timelines,” she said.
An action plan will be released in the next six months, and is likely to include fleet mandates, incentive programs, and a coordinated outreach plan.
“There’s no question that a comprehensive, aggressive effort will be necessary to achieve these goals,” she said. “We’re not currently on track to achieve them without real effort.”