A new environmental plan from the state of California may literally change trucking as we know it in the upcoming years.
California’s Sustainable Freight Action Plan aims to make efficient, zero-emission technologies the standard in the freight industry by 2050. To meet its goals, over 100,000 zero-emissions or near zero-emissions industrial vehicles, including freight trucks, are planned to hit the road by 2030.
Moving towards electrification and natural gas engines while phasing out petroleum dependent will require state funding. And in a state where the freight industry is responsible for a third of its jobs and economy, funding won’t be difficult to come by.
The environmental transportation policy will be put together by the California Department of Transportation, the California Air Resources Board, the California Energy Commission and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.
Trucks outside of California will also have to comply with the new regulation; Washington D.C. and nine other states (Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont) have joined to support California’s environmental policy.
“Policymakers everywhere will be watching California’s plan to restore healthful air quality for millions of residents,” said consultant Erik Neandross, chief executive of Gladstein, Neandross & Associates. “Slashing pollution from the goods movement system is essential to that goal.”
As expected, there are those in the trucking industry who oppose the plan, including Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs for the Western States Trucking Assn.
“Except for natural gas, none of these electric and fuel cell trucks exist now and they just aren’t economically viable or viable for what the end user needs,” said Rajkovacz.
Although zero-emission freight often resulted in talks of electronically transforming an entire fleet, Westport Cummin’s development of the compressed natural gas (CNG) engine has provided an affordable alternative to electric and hydrogen fuel-cell electric propulsion systems.
“We have technology and fuel available today to provide significant air quality improvements that will allow us to get to our air quality goals in the very near term,” said Neandross. “This is a seamless integration of clean technology and fuel into that maturing heavy-duty natural gas vehicle market.”
With the ongoing driver shortage, the industry cannot risk upsetting its drivers, but if companies like Swift and Martin find great return in safety and financial benefits, it will be difficult for other companies to ignore.