Scott signs multi-state agreement to electrify trucks and buses

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Scott signs multi-state agreement to electrify trucks and buses

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 11:08am -- tim

One of two Green Mountain Transit fully electric buses, which run on the Red Line in the Burlington area. Courtesy photo.

Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott today announced that Vermont has joined 15 states and the District of Columbia in signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to accelerate electrification of the medium- and heavy- duty bus and truck market. The agreement calls for 100 percent of all new medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales to be zero emission vehicles by 2050.

States signing the MOU are California, Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

“This agreement is an important step forward in our ongoing commitment to increase the number of electric vehicles on the road in Vermont,” said Governor Scott. “Electrifying buses and trucks while making the technology more affordable and accessible is key to meeting our state emissions goals, and this agreement will help move the market in this direction.”

The transportation sector accounts for 44 percent of Vermont’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and medium- and heavy-duty vehicles make up 14 percent of the on-road sector total.

Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles include large pickup trucks and vans, delivery trucks, box trucks, long-haul delivery trucks and school and transit buses. Nationally, truck emissions are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases and truck travel is expected to increase significantly in coming decades.

“The Agency has a significant number of medium and heavy-duty vehicles in our fleet. We know that transitioning our truck and bus fleets to run on clean electric power will be an important part of how we meet our greenhouse gas reduction targets. I am excited for the Agency to participate along with our sister agencies across the country,” said Agency of Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn. “We know this is going to be a challenge, but we look forward to leaning into this work, so we can build momentum and scale for this market transformation.”

Today, there are at least 70 electric truck and bus models on the market, with more new models expected over the next decade.

“Electrifying our trucks and buses is a critical step in achieving statewide emission reductions and protect public health in Vermont,” said Department Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Peter Walke. “Cars and trucks are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Vermont. Entering into a collaborative agreement will help us significantly reduce these and other harmful emissions.

The two electric buses now in service with Green Mountain Transit out of Burlington cost over $1 million a piece when all costs are factored in. They went into service just as COVID hit in March.

Scott, himself a racecare driver, said at his press briefing today that in order to create the industry and thus lower costs, there has to be a starting point, even while the goal is a long ways off.

He previously cited the introduction of the Ford Mustang all-electric and its high horsepower (346 horsepower/258 kilowatts and 428 lb.-ft. of torque) as an example of a powerful electric motor.

“We have to drive industry, so that the cost will come down," he said.

"If we sit back and allow the industry to build internal combustion engines, we will still have high emissions,” Scott said.

This initiative builds on Vermont’s 2013 commitment to participate in the multistate Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Task Force to electrify light-duty vehicles. The ZEV Task Force will provide the framework to help coordinate efforts to meet the goals of the MOU and develop and implement a ZEV action plan for trucks and buses. In addition, DEC launched Vermont’s Electric School and Transit Bus Pilot Program. Administered by the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), the pilot program will evaluate the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of operating electric buses in Vermont and quantify the reduction in nitrogen oxide and greenhouse gas emissions. Findings will inform future electric bus purchases by Vermont school districts and transit agencies. 

The MOU is facilitated by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM). For more information, visit https://www.nescaum.org/.

Memorandum of Understanding – Pledge to Develop Action Plan to eradicate toxic diesel emissions by 2050

Boston, MA (July 14, 2020) – Today, 15 states and the District of Columbia announced a joint memorandum of understanding (MOU), committing to work collaboratively to advance and accelerate the market for electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, including large pickup trucks and vans, delivery trucks, box trucks, school and transit buses, and long-haul delivery trucks (big-rigs). The goal is to ensure that 100 percent of all new medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales be zero emission vehicles by 2050 with an interim target of 30 percent zero-emission vehicle sales by 2030.
States signing the MOU are: California, Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

The MOU will go a long way toward slashing harmful diesel emissions and cutting carbon pollution. The transportation sector is the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and also contributes to unhealthy levels of smog in many of the signatory states. Accelerating the electrification of trucks and buses is an essential step to achieve the deep economy-wide emission reductions needed to avoid the worst consequences of climate change and protect the health of millions of Americans. While trucks and buses only account for 4 percent of vehicles on the road, they are responsible for nearly 25 percent of total transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, emissions from trucks are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases, and the number of truck miles traveled on the nation’s roads is forecast to continue to grow significantly in the coming decades.

Truck and bus electrification also promises to deliver wide spread health benefits, particularly in communities with heavy truck traffic that are burdened with higher levels of air pollution. Medium- and heavy-duty trucks are a major source of harmful smog-forming pollution, particulate matter, and air toxics. These emissions disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color often located near major trucking corridors, ports, and distribution hubs.

The MOU comes at an important transition point for the industry as investment in zero emission vehicle technology for the medium- and heavy duty sector continues to ramp up. Today, at least 70 electric truck and bus models are on the market, and manufacturers are expected to make many more new models commercially available over the next decade. Apart from the public health benefits and avoided health care costs zero emission trucks and buses provide, by 2030, the total cost of ownership for many common commercial vehicles is projected to reach parity with conventionally fueled vehicles.

To provide a framework and help coordinate state efforts to meet these goals, the signatory jurisdictions will work through the existing multi-state ZEV Task Force facilitated by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) to develop and implement a ZEV action plan for trucks and buses.

By promoting and investing in electric trucks and buses and the charging and fueling infrastructure needed to serve these vehicles, the signatory jurisdictions will support job creation, and help to build a resilient and clean economy.
Here’s what some of the Signatory States are saying:

“California is proud to be joined by 14 other states and the District of Columbia in a push for clean, zero emission trucks,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom. “Our efforts in California will be magnified through the efforts of this multi-state coalition to reduce emissions and improve air quality, especially crucial in communities where our most vulnerable citizens live. By working together, we can move toward a cleaner future.”

“Now is the time to act regionally to protect the health of our residents and our climate by reducing emissions from medium- and heavy-duty trucks,” said Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont. “In Connecticut, as in other states, our most vulnerable residents are hit hardest by the health effects of air pollution, including asthma and other respiratory ailments. I am looking forward to working with partner states through this agreement to leverage private sector ingenuity with smart public policy to transition to zero-emission vehicles.”

“The electric vehicle industry is primed for tremendous growth,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “We cannot afford to miss this opportunity to place clean transportation technology and infrastructure at the center of the nation’s economic recovery.”

“We welcome the opportunity to join this multi-state coalition to accelerate electrification of medium-and heavy-duty vehicles. The electrification of transportation is critical to achieving Hawaii’s zero emission clean economy goal and to reach the state’s 100 percent renewable energy target for electricity,” said Hawaii Gov. David Ige.

“To reach our clean energy goals and beat back the effects of climate change, we must rapidly electrify our transportation system by supporting the adoption of electric vehicle use in every sector of our economy,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said. “Today’s action will support the electrification of medium and heavy-duty vehicles by building on New Jersey’s comprehensive strategy that includes reentry to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, from which auction proceeds will go toward clean energy initiatives particularly for our environmental justice populations. Taken together with the blueprint outlined in our Energy Master Plan, these efforts demonstrate New Jersey’s unwavering commitment to 100 percent clean energy by 2050, creating a healthier environment for everyone.”

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Without federal leadership, addressing the climate crisis requires states to work together to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all sources. Reducing air pollution from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles will result in cleaner air for our communities—including low-income neighborhoods and communities of color that are often disproportionately impacted by environmental pollution. Today’s announcement bolsters New York’s ongoing efforts to electrify the transportation sector and reduce climate pollution, helping to realize our ambitious emissions reduction goals and grow a powerful green economy to benefit all communities.”

“Oregonians have been leading the way in adopting electric cars to lower emissions. Electrifying trucks, buses and delivery vehicles is the next logical step in cutting emissions, improving air quality and fighting climate change,” said Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

“Pennsylvania is home to some of the highest trafficked highways in the nation, and reducing air pollution from tailpipes will benefit Pennsylvanians across the state,” said Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. “Pennsylvania has already made investments to reduce these kinds of emissions and we are proud to be joining with other states to continue to deploy more electric trucks and buses so we can continue to cut the pollution.”