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EPA green lights California’s strong clean truck standards in a win for public health

March 31, 2023 Work Area: Zero-Carbon Fuels

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted California’s request to waive federal preemption of vehicle emission regulations under the Clean Air Act, allowing the state to implement its suite of clean truck standards and other states to follow suit.  

“We commend the EPA for issuing a waiver to allow California to implement its strong clean truck standards, which will protect its communities from air pollution and take an important step toward decarbonizing the trucking sector,” says Jonathan Lewis, Clean Air Task Force’s Director of Transportation Decarbonization. “Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, with heavy-duty trucks being the second largest contributor within the sector. It is critical to get zero-emitting heavy-duty trucks – both those powered by batteries and those powered by hydrogen fuel cells – on the road and fully decarbonized as rapidly as possible to improve public health and achieve our climate goals. These rules, combined with the Clean Air Act waiver, are a step toward meeting that imperative.”   

Heavy-duty trucks are the largest contributor – about 32% – to mobile source emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx), which reacts in the atmosphere to form ozone and particulate matter. Diesel trucks and other diesel-fueled equipment are significant contributors to particulate matter air pollution, which oftentimes occurs along highways and in industrial or urban hubs causing health disparities that harm historically marginalized communities. CATF released an interactive map, “Deaths by Dirty Diesel,” which analyzes the public health consequences of diesel vehicle emissions and their associated economic impacts in communities across the country. 

The EPA waiver comes on the heels of a recent CATF analysis that compares the operational performance of heavy-duty trucks powered by batteries and by hydrogen fuel cells. The first-of-its-kind study finds that fuel cell-powered trucks outperform battery-powered trucks in terms of the number of stops required, total time spent refueling, and available room for cargo in long-haul freight applications.

The Clean Air Act provides states with the explicit authority to protect their residents’ health by issuing vehicle standards more stringent than the federal standards. Seven states, representing more than 20% of the medium- and heavy-duty truck market have adopted the Advanced Clean Truck rule and several others are pursuing adoption. California’s Advanced Clean Truck rule aims to put 300,000 zero-emission trucks on the road by 2035.  

Press Contact

Samantha Sadowski, Communications Manager, U.S.,, +1 202-440-1717

About Clean Air Task Force 

Clean Air Task Force (CATF) is a global nonprofit organization working to safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid development and deployment of low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies. With 25 years of internationally recognized expertise on climate policy and a fierce commitment to exploring all potential solutions, CATF is a pragmatic, non-ideological advocacy group with the bold ideas needed to address climate change. CATF has offices in Boston, Washington D.C., and Brussels, with staff working virtually around the world. Visit and follow @cleanaircatf.

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