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Biden administration announces new standards with sweeping impacts on trucking industry: 'Another giant step forward'

"This is going to deploy more electric trucks on the road."

"This is going to deploy more electric trucks on the road."

Photo Credit: iStock

On March 29, the Biden administration announced the finalized air pollution standards for heavy-duty vehicles as part of a combined effort to reduce pollution produced by the transportation sector.

The new rule limits the planet-warming gases produced by heavy-duty vocational vehicles such as freight trucks, garbage trucks, school buses, delivery trucks, and public utility vehicles for model years 2027 through 2032. 

"The standards will avoid 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions and provide $13 billion in annualized net benefits to society related to public health, the climate, and savings for truck owners and operators," the Environmental Protection Agency stated in a press release

The regulations will dramatically reduce the toxic air pollution that directly impacts over 72 million Americans who live near truck freight routes, most of whom live in low-income communities. 

"Exposure to traffic-related pollution is a serious health hazard to those living in communities with heavy truck traffic," Harold Wimmer, president and chief executive of the American Lung Association, said in a statement, per the New York Times.  

Chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases are among the many adverse health effects linked to constant exposure to high levels of air pollution

According to the EPA, the transportation sector is the largest source of planet-warming air pollution in the United States, and heavy-duty vehicles are responsible for 25% of the pollution. 

Gases like carbon dioxide and methane act like a blanket, heating up Earth in an unnatural and unprecedented way. The rapidly rising temperatures are directly connected to increased extreme weather events like severe storms, worsening wildfires, and devastating droughts.

"EPA is taking another giant step forward to protect future generations from climate change," said Michael S. Regan, the administrator of the agency.

The U.S. isn't the only country setting strict limits on heavy-duty vehicles. The European Parliament recently agreed on a plan to ban most diesel trucks by 2040 and reduce pollution from all heavy-duty trucks in the European Union. 

According to the Times, the new regulations set by the Biden administration don't mandate a shift to all-electric vehicles. Instead, it limits the amount of pollution allowed from trucks, leaving it up to companies to determine how to lower their levels. 

This is an ambitious plan, and many truck drivers are concerned that the infrastructure is not in place to support the industry's transition to more electric vehicles, the Times noted. However, progress is being made, as the Inflation Reduction Act provided $1 billion for electric trucks, including tax credits for companies that buy them and subsidies for charging infrastructure. 

"This is going to deploy more electric trucks on the road, but it's also going to deploy more fuel-efficient conventional diesel trucks," said Ray Minjares, the director of heavy-duty vehicle programs at the International Council on Clean Transportation, per the Times. "It's not intended to electrify all heavy-duty trucks."

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