Major state could use ‘backdoor’ to kickstart end of diesel trucks in U.S.

California’s proposed rules to dramatically limit emissions from heavy-duty vehicles could effectively result in a nationwide ban on the sale of new diesel-powered heavy-duty vehicles, thanks to a “backdoor” in the Clean Air Act, experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation Monday.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will approve California’s proposed rules, which would obligate all new heavy-duty vehicles — including shipping trucks and delivery vans — sold in the state after 2045 be fully electric or hydrogen-powered, The Washington Post reported Monday, citing three individuals familiar with the agency’s plans. New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Massachusetts, Washington and Vermont have all committed to following California’s lead on this issue, a move which experts told the DCNF was tantamount to a nationwide ban.

“It’s a way to backdoor allow — under the auspices of the Clean Air Act — for California that set standards for the U.S.,” Dan Kish, senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, said to the DCNF.

California’s rules would be significantly stricter than federal regulations under the Clean Air Act, and enforcing them requires the EPA grant the state a special waiver, the Post reported. The state will introduce stricter emissions standards to all heavy-duty vehicles starting with model year 2024, three years earlier than the Biden administration’s most recent rules, which take effect in model year 2027.

Together, California and the six states that are expected to follow in its lead represent some 20% of all heavy-duty vehicle sales in the U.S., the Post reported. Heavy-duty electric trucks accounted for just 2.7% of all in the U.S. as of May 2022, according to analytics firm Wood Mackenzie

“This is a unique provision in federal law that allows one single state, of course it’s a big, powerful state, California, with its markets, to to essentially dictate the regulation of interstate commerce for other states,” Steven Bradbury, a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation and former lawyer for both the Trump and George W. Bush administrations, told the DCNF in an interview. “If just California alone is allowed to enforce these requirements, that would be enough to push the entire market … in that direction … because these companies cannot build different sets of trucks for different regions of the country. It just doesn’t make sense.”

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