Advocates and businesses are calling for North Carolina’s adoption of the Advanced Clean Trucks Rule (ACT) to accelerate truck and bus electrification in the state.Stan Cross | August 12, 2022
Electric trucks and buses are safer for us because they do not have tailpipes spewing toxic diesel fumes into our lungs, posing potential health risks including neurological, cardiovascular, respiratory, reproductive, and immune system damage. Electric trucks and buses are cleaner for the environment, significantly reducing the carbon emissions that are warming the planet and creating a climate crisis. They are also cheaper to operate and maintain because they run on lower-cost, price-stable electricity instead of expensive and price-volatile diesel; and electric vehicles are more durable and have much fewer parts to repair than internal combustion vehicles.
That is why advocate organizations and leading businesses have sent letters to Governor Cooper urging North Carolina to initiate a rulemaking that will lead to the state’s adoption of ACT to require truck and bus manufacturers to ensure that zero-emission vehicles comprise an increasing percentage of truck and bus sales over time. This important policy can improve public health, address the climate crisis, and boost North Carolina’s vibrant clean energy economy. Governor Cooper and the Department of Environmental Quality have the opportunity to initiate the rulemaking this fall.
ACT will reduce truck and bus pollution
ACT targets pollution from trucks and buses, also referred to as medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, which generate an outsized share of pollution from transportation. Trucks and buses are only 3.2% of the vehicles on the road in North Carolina. Yet, their exhaust contributes approximately 26% of pollution from nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 32% of direct fine particulate matter (PM) pollution.
Transportation is responsible for nearly 40% of gross statewide greenhouse gas emissions, and medium and heavy-duty vans, trucks, and buses are the second largest source of these emissions after passenger cars and trucks. Therefore, rapidly electrifying these larger vehicles will help achieve the Governor’s goal of reducing North Carolina’s greenhouse gas emissions 50% below 2005 levels by 2030, and meet the state’s commitment to advance policies to reduce emissions from medium-and heavy-duty vehicles as a signatory of the Multi-State Medium-and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding.
Furthermore, communities located near highways and industrial areas with lots of truck and bus traffic, like rail yards, ports, depots, and warehouses, are exposed to high levels of NOx and PM pollution putting their health at greater risk. These overburdened communities are disproportionately communities of color and lower income, making cleaning up diesel tailpipe pollution a critical environmental justice issue as well.
ACT will deliver economic benefits
ACT will drive investment in clean transportation research and development and enable cost-effective vehicle electrification at the pace and scale needed to meet climate and air quality goals while delivering economic benefits for North Carolina by:
Attracting private investment
North Carolina currently ranks #3 in the Southeast for electric transportation manufacturing investment and job growth and has been gaining momentum with an increasing number of electric vehicle, battery manufacturer, and supply chain companies choosing the state for expansion. ACT would strengthen the market for their products.
Putting North Carolina in a stronger market position
North Carolina has yet to fully leverage its favorable economic climate, highly-skilled workforce, and manufacturing base to capture an outsized share of the hundreds of billions of dollars in federal investments flowing from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CHIPS and Science Act, and pending Inflation Reduction Act. These investments will support charging infrastructure deployment, battery research and development, electric car, truck, and bus manufacturing, electric vehicle supply chain expansion, and workforce development.
Keep transportation fuel spending in the local economy
North Carolina imports all the pricey gas and diesel fueling the state’s economy, losing approximately $0.68 of every dollar spent at the pump to oil-rich states and countries. If all the cars, trucks, and buses on the road today were powered by cheaper in-state-generated electricity instead, North Carolina would retain $7.7 billion annually, keeping money in consumer and fleet operator’s pockets to boost the economy.
Now is the time for action. North Carolina has the opportunity to initiate ACT rulemaking and should do so now. The public health, climate, and economic benefits for the state and its citizens are clear, as are the mounting costs and risks of inaction.
Electrify the South is a Southern Alliance for Clean Energy program that leverages research, advocacy, and outreach to promote renewable energy and accelerate the equitable transition to electric transportation throughout the Southeast. Visit ElectrifytheSouth.org to learn more and connect with us.