The Polis administration will not consider new clean trucking policies until next year. Environmental groups are not happy.
The rules are also part of a national strategy to reduce pollution in neighborhoods near major freight routes. California became the first state to adopt an advanced clean truck rule in 2020. Since then, five others have adopted the same policy to stimulate a market for more zero-emission trucks and buses.
Colorado seemed set to join the group this year. In 2020, Polis signed a memorandum of understanding to promote the adoption of electric trucks and buses with 14 other states and the District of Columbia. A coalition of state agencies also held a series of town hall meetings to seek input on its possible zero-emissions truck strategy.
According to an update from state lawmakers, the process was intended to help air commissioners pass the clean trucking rule in August 2022.
A meeting between the administration and environmentalists did not go well
During the meeting with environmental groups, Will Toor, director of the Colorado Energy Office, said the delay would help align the final clean trucking policy with other efforts to promote electric vehicles, such as new state electric vehicles and federal infrastructure spending for more vehicle chargers.
McGrath of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment told attendees the delay could also help engage the trucking industry in the rulemaking process. He said companies may be more receptive to the new requirements at the end of the year, when global supply chain issues are expected to ease.
Those points made little sense to Aaron Kressig, the transportation electrification manager for Western Resource Advocates. In an interview, he said the clean truck rule isn’t expected to go into effect until 2025, which would give the state ample time to align it with other environmental policies and work with industry.
“If it’s not done by the end of this calendar year, we lose a year of effectiveness,” he said. “It also pushes everything on the [Air Quality Control Commission] calendar a year ago.
Members of several environmental groups said they would explore other options to push air regulators to review and approve the clean trucking rule, including a petition to force the issue before the November election.
Polis administration maintains schedule is as ‘aggressive as possible to get it right’
In an email response to CPR News, Toor defended the new timeline and said the administration never committed to passing clean trucking rules in 2022.
Toor said the Polis administration worked with the legislature last year to invest $750 million in electrifying cars, trucks and buses over the next decade. The governor’s office also proposed a $400 million clean air program in its latest budget, which includes proposed funding for electric school buses.
“The coming months are an important time to stabilize global supply chain issues – with major national efforts underway in areas such as producing enough microchips to build the clean vehicles our country needs” , Toor said, adding that the delay would help the administration better coordinate new regulations with others, “sequencing” that he said was crucial for clean transportation rules for passenger cars.
Conor Cahill, spokesman for the governor’s office, said the administration’s schedule was as “aggressive as possible to get it right.”
“What’s highlighted is that we need to get the investment plans in place for transportation electrification companies and quickly adopt the Governor’s clean air package which includes a clean trucking component to put in place the most robust regulations possible,” Cahill mentioned.
The new schedule will likely be formalized at Thursday’s meeting of the Air Quality Control Board. According to a presentation submitted ahead of the meeting, state regulators plan to begin drafting the rule this year and hold public hearings in 2023. The clean trucking policy will go into effect in 2026.