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California Leads the Way: Half of Heavy Truck Sales Must Be Electric by 2035

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The Biden administration has agreed to allow California to enforce a new rule that will require more than half of all heavy trucks sold in the state to be electric by the year 2035. This means that starting next year, most newly sold heavy trucks will have to run on electricity instead of gas. The rule was approved by California last year but they needed permission from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before it could take effect.

The government is trying to make cars and trucks in California less polluting. By 2035, 55 percent of delivery vans, 40 percent of tractor-trailers, and 75 percent of buses and larger trucks must be electric or “all-electric” vehicles.

California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, thinks the new mandate is a signal for all of America. He told The New York Times that “it’s important to note this moment because it shows us how much change is in store for our industry”. He also mentioned that other states may copy California’s idea since it has such a big economy (in fact, if it were its own country, it would be 5th largest worldwide!). Its gas-vehicle sales ban until 2035 is an example of what could happen nationwide.

The trucking industry does not agree with these new regulations due to the high costs and extra infrastructure needed. Jay Grimes, who works for an association of independent truck drivers, said that many people do not want to work in California anymore. He also raised concerns about if there will be enough charging stations available on long trips or if electric trucks are ready yet. He added that electric trucks weigh more because they have large batteries which affects how much they can transport. Finally, electric trucks cost a lot more than regular gas trucks, starting at around $100,000 and can go even higher depending on the model.

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Seventeen states led by Republican politicians are trying to stop a new law from taking effect. People like Ken Paxton and Jeff Landry, the attorneys general (top lawyers) running those states, have taken millions of dollars in donations from fossil fuel companies since 2002. Their lawsuit is going to court soon and may end up at the US Supreme Court where more conservative people rule.

Clean energy groups may find it hard to meet the mandate but they are still positive. “It’s tough making heavy-duty vehicles use electricity,” said Drew Kodjak, head of the International Council on Clean Transportation. “But there is something that makes us hopeful.” One of these things is government grants and saving money from not using gas for long term costs. “Businesses like FedEx look at the total cost of a vehicle in its lifetime not just now. When you do that, it looks better.”

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