California Announces New Regulations for Truck Emissions

In late June, California announced new trucking regulations that require truck makers move to entirely zero-emissions drivetrains. The regulations are set in line with the state’s overarching air quality and climate targets, outlined in the California Air Resources Board’s fact sheet:

  • 40% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030

  • 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050; and

  • 50% reduction in petroleum use by 2030

Critics of the regulations argue that these targets will be too difficult to implement given the vast changes to infrastructure that the transportation industry would need to fulfill. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, in order to introduce a fleet of zero-emission trucks, there will need to be a wide-scale investment in charging and hydrogen stations. But those in favor of the regulations see this as the next step towards better air quality and preventing premature deaths related to fine airborne particles released by commercial trucking.

Timeline of Trucking Emissions Regulations

Supporters of the new regulations are also quick to point out that this is not the first time air-quality standards have seemed impossible to meet.

The Criteria Pollutants Rule of the early 2000s were created after six critical air pollutants (ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and lead) were identified as particularly harmful. Thanks to all the rules created in accordance with the aforementioned study, it now takes 70 trucks to release the same amount of pollutants that one truck would have released before these rules were implemented.

The latest advancement for commercial transportation is the Advanced Clean Trucks program of 2020. The California Air Resource Board (CARB) is still in the process of developing the strategies and proposals to help achieve this transition, but it’s no secret that once the goal has been met we’ll be breathing cleaner air--after all, according to the CARB fact sheet, “Mobile sources and the fossil fuels that power them are the largest contributors to the formation of ozone, greenhouse gas emissions, fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and toxic diesel particulate matter.”


There are over 70 different models of zero-emissions vans, trucks, and buses that are currently available for commercial use, however, it will still take a while for us to see our freeways filled with zero-emission trucks transporting goods. But if history has taught us anything, it’s this: if these regulations can be implemented across the country, we’ll have a cleaner, brighter future ahead of us.