New Jersey adopts rules for clean trucks
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State environmental protection officials passed Advanced Clean Truck rules on December 20 that would make New Jersey the first state on the east coast to require the phased introduction of electric commercial trucks to reduce pollution from air and the diseases it causes.
The Advanced Clean Truck Rule is modeled after regulations established in California and about to be adopted in several other states. The program aims to increase the number of electric or zero-emission trucks in the state.
Environmentalists have said residents living in some of the state’s poorest communities, which bear the brunt of the air pollution and respiratory illnesses it causes, will benefit the most from the new truck rules. .
“New Jersey is already feeling the detrimental effects of climate change, but we have the power and the obligation to reduce its escalation in the years to come by acting now to limit our emissions of climate pollutants,” DEP Commissioner said , Shawn M. LaTourette, in a press release. declaration.
Trucks and other vehicles are heading south on the New Jersey Turnpike in Ridgefield, NJ (Jin Lee / Bloomberg)
The new rules require every truck maker selling medium and heavy vehicles in the state to increase the number of electric vehicles sold in the state over time.
Manufacturers get credits by selling zero-emission vehicles in New Jersey or can get credits from ZEV sales from another manufacturer in the state, DEP officials said.
“It’s powerful for poor communities living near bus stations, airports and ports that live with higher pollution,” said Mary Barber, director of state affairs for the Environmental Defense Fund. “Clean vehicles are an important step in purifying the air. It reduces air pollution which damages people’s health.
Barber cited statistics that one in four children in Newark has asthma, which is four times the national average. Statistics from the State Department of Health show that residents of four towns in Essex County, including Newark, are going to the emergency room for asthma treatment, 150% more than the state average .
“This is a big reason why the state has to move forward with clean trucks,” she said.
Under the ACT, a manufacturer’s deficits are based on its total sales of all medium and heavy vehicles in New Jersey to be offset by credits, starting in 2025, and the credits increase each year until by 2035. It is designed to increase the total number of sales of zero-emission vehicles in the state, officials said.
“It electrifies the dirtiest vehicles on New Jersey roads. These dirty diesel vehicles are particularly concentrated near the port and along the highway, exposing neighboring communities to overwhelming pollution and causing serious health consequences, ”said Hayley Berliner, clean energy advocate at Environment New Jersey.
The rule will “significantly reduce” emissions from the transportation sector, which contributes 41% of greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey, said Anjuli Ramos-Busot, director of the Sierra Club of New Jersey chapter. The ACT rule will also reduce air pollutants such as nitrous oxide and fine particle emissions from diesel engines, she said.
“If we are to meet our ambitious climate goals and protect public health, we need to electrify everything on wheels in New Jersey and the Advanced Clean Truck Rule is a critical means of achieving that,” Berliner said.
Similar to what passenger car makers do, some established truck makers like International offer electric models, joining start-ups like Lion that offer all-electric trucks and buses.
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However, the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association voiced opposition to New Jersey officials over the ACT in September 2020, which were similar to concerns it raised in California in 2019 that the rules were coming faster than the rules. charging infrastructure. The association said ACT’s proposal “would put the cart before the horse by forcing manufacturers to sell an increasing percentage of zero-emission heavy and medium vehicles without first ensuring that the required charging infrastructure and ZEV purchase requirements will be in place. . “
The association also opposed the regulation because of the higher costs, heavier weight than a conventional truck, and shorter battery life compared to a diesel engine.
The manufacturers could not immediately be reached to comment on New Jersey’s adoption of the rule.
The state is providing aid to help finance the purchase and deployment of electric trucks and buses and to build charging stations. In November, Democratic Governor Phil Murphy announced a $ 13.7 million investment in electric buses and trucks to reduce emissions and improve air quality in crowded communities.
In February, Murphy announced plans to spend $ 100 million from two environmental pots of money to buy electric buses and trucks. The state has also committed nearly $ 71 million in proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to purchase electric vehicles and install charging stations, DEP officials said.
But the relief will not be immediate given the size of the fleet to be converted. At the Port of Elizabeth and Newark alone, there are 20,000 trucks, said Amy Goldsmith, state director of Clean Water Action.
“ACT is important because it’s 14 other states. It sends a signal that we want electric vehicles, we want them to continue to innovate and reduce costs and we want to put the infrastructure in place publicly and privately, ”she said. “Will this bring instant relief?” No, and people need to understand that.
New Jersey has just adopted the Advanced Clean Truck rule, becoming the 4th state in the country and the 1st on the East Coast to do so! This rule will reduce climate emissions, clean our air, and make us all healthier. Read our statement: https://t.co/TC428GYOSY
– Environment New Jersey (@EnvironmentNJ) 20 December 2021
To provide relief to communities that have been overburdened with pollution, Goldsmith and Barber said officials need to make sure these places get the investments first.
“People have to understand that if we are to provide relief to those disproportionately affected, then money, infrastructure has to come first in these environmental justice communities,” Goldsmith said.
The power grid that will provide the electricity also needs to be converted from fossil fuels, as many power plants are also located in these communities, she said.
“Power generation cannot be on the backs of environmental justice communities, there are fossil fuel power plants in these communities and we need to make the transition as fast and as furiously as possible to green energy in order to don’t overload them, ”says Goldsmith.
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