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Zero-emission fleet vehicles helping decrease pollution levels

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Posted at 3:17 PM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 18:42:26-04

DENVER, Colo. — More states are implementing incentives for companies to help decrease pollution levels. Experts say an increase of zero-emission fleet vehicles could bring dramatic declines in climate-warming gases.

“Transportation, in general, is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country,” said Patricio Portillo, transformational analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Fleet Vehicles— they make up a very small fraction of all the vehicles that are on our roads, about a quarter. But they have a very big outsize impact on both greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants that create smog because they are constantly running.”

That's why several states are now switching to zero-emission fleet vehicles.

“The initial purchase price is currently higher for zero-emission vehicles. Those prices are projected to come down when there’s more volume in the market,” said Kay Kelly with the Colorado Department of Transportation. “But in the meantime, there are purchase incentives that can help fleet operators bring down initial costs.”

It’s called the Advanced Clean Trucks regulation, which is led by the state of California. It requires manufacturers of medium and heavy-duty vehicles to increase sales of zero-emissions models over time.

The rule is also being considered in other states like Washington, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York and Colorado.

“Vehicles like transit buses, school buses, regional delivery vehicles are ready to be focused on now and ready to start rolling out,” Kelly Blynn, a transportation and climate change specialist. “While other types of vehicles, like tractor-trailers, that travel long distances are going to be more of a challenge.”

A recent study by the Colorado Energy Office reported this type of policy could result in greenhouse gas reductions up to 4.4 million metric tons annually by 2050, 59% drop compared to a no-action scenario.

“They’re business vehicles, so they’re constantly in operation and as a result. They’re polluting a lot more and burning a lot more fuel,” said Patricio Portillo, who is with Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

But according to the NRDC, the way to implement this across the country is to not only increase incentives for businesses to make the switch, but also for manufacturers to increase supply.

“On the incentive side, you know, targeting incentives to address that higher upfront purchase price to get fleets actually buying them is really helpful,” Portillo said. “But what we found is having a basic minimum supply of these vehicles available. You can have the best incentive dollars in place, if no one is offering those vehicles for sale in your state it’s hard to get them obviously.”

With the addition of more states starting to apply this advanced clean trucks rule, the NRDC hopes it can help move more states in the direction of using electric fleet vehicles.