President Biden adds greener emissions rules and electric buses

The Biden administration on Monday proposed limits on new buses and large trucks to cut some of their greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% over the next decade.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan announced the proposed emissions standard Monday at a White House event alongside Vice President Kamala Harris and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg .

“We’re stepping on the accelerator to reach an emissions-free future sooner than most people thought,” Regan said.

This announcement follows a series of actions by the White House to fight climate change and reduce pollution. Buses and large trucks, classified as heavy-duty vehicles, account for about a quarter of US transportation greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA, which designed the rule with input from other agencies.

The new EPA rule specifically targets nitrogen oxides, which can lead to cancer and premature death and contribute to acid rain and smog, among other greenhouse gas effects. Proposed rule aims to reduce highly reactive gas emissions from large trucks by up to 90% by model year 2031 and imposes stricter emissions standards for carbon dioxide by model year 2024 .

If finalized, it would be the first time in more than two decades that federal standards for these types of vehicles would be tightened.

This echoes similar efforts proposed by California Governor Gavin Newsom as the state strives to be at the forefront of green policies in the United States. The White House has already relied on California’s climate policies.

Harris said the federal government aims to expand green public transit, add cleaner-emission school buses and bolster jobs in transportation. The plan builds on funding passed through the bipartisan Infrastructure Act and last year’s US bailout.

“We are all at a turning point. We have the technology to transition to a zero-emissions fleet,” Harris said. “We can tackle the climate crisis and grow our economy at the same time.”

Harris said her experience visiting Mira Loma as state attorney general informed her perspective on pollution. The town near Riverside has some of the worst pollution in California, she said, with more heavy trucks making more than 15,000 daily trips to major city roads and Interstate 15, a major corridor trucking.

“Mira Loma is a community not unlike communities across our country,” Harris said. “The first time I went to Mira Loma, you could smell the metal in the air. My eyes were burning. The toxicity in the air was so thick.

Harris said townspeople told him that friends and relatives were suffering from high rates of cancer, asthma and heart disease. “The fact is that there are many Mira Lomas all over our country. Communities that have been left behind and left behind. And where pollution from trucks and buses has made the air toxic to breathe.

Biden funds green buses and trucks

The Department of Transportation will add more than $1.1 billion to help state and local governments purchase electric buses through the fund known as the Low or Zero Emission Vehicle Program, the White House said. This is in addition to the $2 billion committed to the program over the past five years, $372 million provided earlier in 2022.

The action is expected to boost manufacturing jobs in California among several other states, the White House said, because these vehicles will be built in the United States.

The Department of Energy is working with the trucking industry to make zero-emissions technology more accessible, focusing $127 million on reducing costs and improving the durability of hydrogen and battery-electric trucks.

The administration, through the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, will also set aside $280 million over the next five years to train transit workers in the use of zero-emission vehicles and charging stations.

The DOT will allocate an additional $2.2 billion for workers and transit services in 18 states.

The EPA will spend $17 million on replacing diesel school buses with electric ones, in addition to the $5 billion earmarked for this task in the bipartisan Infrastructure Act. The White House said these funds will begin to be used in the coming months.

The president’s plan also calls for new federal government vehicles to be zero emissions by 2035.

Biden borrows climate policies from California leaders

In January, Newsom announced $10 billion to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles in California. Under the plan, $935 million would go towards 1,000 zero-emission short-haul trucks and 1,700 zero-emission city buses; $1.5 billion for school transportation programs; and $1.1 billion for zero-emission trucks, buses and off-road equipment and fueling infrastructure.

It follows Newsom’s 2020 order that all new vehicles sold will be zero-emission vehicles by 2035.

In December, the EPA fuel emission standards finalized for cars and small trucks to achieve at least 40 mpg by the 2026 model year, with regulations beginning in the 2023 model year and becoming more stringent over time.

The White House announcements stem from an executive order President Joe Biden signed this summer to have half of new cars sold by 2030 be battery-electric, fuel-cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Biden signed the order alongside automakers who have pledged to produce electric vehicles.

At the time, Biden told McClatchy that California’s own clean car standards imposed by the so-called California Framework Agreement were “really helpful” in propelling the White House’s plan.

California announced the framework in 2019, against the current of the former presidential administration, alongside four major automakers. The state’s stricter exhaust emission rules led former President Donald Trump to revoke single state guidelines that differed from federal guidelines through a waiver.

Last month, an EPA spokesperson confirmed to The Bee that it was working to restore this decades-old capability. With the waiver, California will be allowed to set emissions rules for cars and small trucks that are stricter than the federal rules; other states are allowed to adopt California’s standards.

California has been ahead of the curve in crafting green vehicle rules ever since it gained the ability to set tougher standards through the Clean Air Act of 1970. It was allowed to do so. due to its historically dirty air.

“Restoring our state’s decades-long waiver of the Clean Air Act will be a major victory for the environment, our economy, and the health of Americans across the country in states that have chosen to enact our pioneering standards,” Newsom said in an emailed statement. on the impending decision.

“Together with our federal partners, California will continue to lead the charge to protect our communities and the planet,” he added.

Harris, who previously represented California in the U.S. Senate, announced several green initiatives during his tenure, including addressing drought, wildfires and greenhouse gas initiatives. She introduces the School Bus Cleanliness Act, the first bill to push for zero-emission school buses, which helped shape the school bus program the bipartisan Infrastructure Act earmarked funds for last fall. Harris continued to work on climate issues as vice president.

The Bee’s Dale Kasler contributed to this story.

This story was originally published March 7, 2022 8:33 a.m.

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Gillian Brassil is the congressional reporter for McClatchy’s California Publications. She covers federal policies, people, and issues impacting the Golden State from Capitol Hill. She graduated from Stanford University.

Profile picture of Francesca Chambers

Francesca is a senior White House correspondent for McClatchy. She is an Emmy-winning journalist known for her coverage of campaigns, elections and the White House. She has covered three presidencies, dating back to former President Barack Obama, and the White House bids of numerous Democrats and Republicans, including Hillary Clinton. , Bernie Sanders and former President Donald Trump. Francesca is a board member of the White House Correspondents Association and a graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas.

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