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Michelle Kinman,
Environment California

Obama Administration Accelerates Drive to Less Polluting Trucks and Buses

For Immediate Release

Los Angeles, CA – Eighteen-wheelers, school and transit buses, and other large vehicles will be much more efficient and less polluting by the end of the next decade, according to a proposal issued today by the Obama administration. The medium and heavy-duty vehicles covered by the rule account for a significant portion of California’s global warming pollution.

“Four in ten Californians – more than in any other state – live close enough to a freeway or busy road that they may be at increased risk of asthma, cancer and other health hazards,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate with Environment California. “Today’s action will mean cleaner air for all Californians and will help tackle the climate crisis. As world leaders prepare for the UN Climate Change Conference later this year, this is the type of action that the world needs many times over.”

The proposal is the latest move by President Obama to curb the pollution fueling global warming, which scientists say is consistent with extreme weather events – from heat waves to drought – that are already plaguing California.

Today’s action complements statewide leadership to jumpstart innovation on clean technology for medium and heavy duty vehicles. California State Senators Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach/Huntington Park) and Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) authored successful legislation in 2014, creating the California Clean Truck and Bus Program, which provides funding from the state’s cap and trade funds for research and development of zero and near-zero emissions trucks and buses needed to transform our goods movement and public transportation sectors.

The broad range of larger vehicles, from dump trucks to shuttle buses to large pickup trucks, account for 7 percent of the vehicles on the nation’s roads, but more than a quarter of the transportation sector’s pollution.

Passenger cars and trucks remain the largest source of pollution within the transportation sector, and the Obama administration has already required them to go farther on a gallon of gas. That move – which made a host of ever-more efficient autos available to consumers -- will save California consumers an estimated $4.3 billion at the gas pump while reducing oil consumption by over 1.5 billion gallons.

Similarly, advocates have called for a 40 percent efficiency improvement for heavy duty trucks compared to 2010, which could save semi truck operators $30,000 per year on fuel, reducing freight costs and helping to lower the price of consumer goods. While Environment California and its allies are still reviewing the rule issued today, it appears to be very close to the 40 percent target.

The draft rule will be subject to a public comment period before becoming final.

“Making trucks go farther on a gallon of fuel can curb pollution, help save the planet, and save money,” said Kinman. “With public support, today’s action will mean a triple win for clean air, the climate, and consumers.”