Colorado’s plan to encourage the use of zero-emission medium-and heavy-duty trucks has been finalized after extensive public input. The Clean Truck Strategy is a joint effort of the Colorado Energy Office (CEO), the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Air Pollution Control Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.
The strategy is part of a package of initiatives undertaken by the Polis administration to improve air quality, reduce emissions and save people and small businesses money, according to a CDOT news release.
“Colorado has enormous opportunities to reduce pollution and improve quality of life by transitioning from diesel to zero-emission trucks and buses,” Will Toor, executive director of the CEO, said. “This strategic plan creates a framework for achieving big things through investment, collaboration and regulation.”
Medium-and heavy-duty vehicles include semi-trucks, school buses, snowplows, delivery vans, large pick-up trucks and many different vehicle types in between.
“These are the vehicles that bring Colorado kids to school, deliver food to our local grocery stores, plow our streets, repair our critical infrastructure, power our businesses and do hundreds of other critical jobs for our lives and economy,” the news release stated.
“Unfortunately, medium-and heavy-duty vehicles are also the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector, contributing 22% of on-road greenhouse gas emissions despite being less than 10% of all Colorado vehicles.”
Using input from multiple public meetings, stakeholder groups and the Colorado Medium-and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Study, the agencies developed a draft strategy to accelerate clean truck adoption in the state that recognized the increasing importance of freight to the economy. From the summer of 2020 through April, the state received 120 comments. The finalized strategy addresses a number of these comments through edits or adoption of suggestions.
“The strategy will help fight climate change, improve air quality and especially help communities disproportionately impacted by transportation pollution emissions,” according to the news release.
The Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Study found that owners of medium-and heavy-duty trucks, most of whom are small businesses, could save an estimated $5.8 billion by 2050 from reduced vehicle maintenance costs and fuel cost savings by switching to zero-emission vehicles.
The Medium-and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Study also found that if Colorado pursues an accelerated transition to medium-and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles, it could reduce medium-and heavy-duty truck greenhouse gas emissions by 45% to 59%, reduce nitrogen oxide emissions 54% to 93% and reduce particulate matter emissions 53% to 68% below 2005 levels by 2050.
Clean Truck Strategy key elements
A vision statement focused on delivering an “efficient, affordable and equitable large-scale transition of Colorado’s medium-and heavy-duty vehicle sector to zero emission technologies,” with a particular focus on ensuring the transition prioritizes improving air quality for those who have historically been most burdened by medium-and heavy-duty vehicle pollution, the news release stated.
Clear goals and objectives for the state to measure progress toward, including specific objectives for zero emission vehicle adoption statewide, zero emission vehicle adoption within the state fleet, along with the electrification of the state’s transit and school bus fleets.
A prioritized set of 35 actions that state agencies will implement to support this transition, including near-term actions in 2022 and 2023, as well as medium-term priorities agencies will initiate as capacity allows or once necessary planning is completed. The 35 actions identified span seven different categories of initiatives, including procurement policies and programs, vehicle incentives and financing, infrastructure planning and investments, utility strategies, workforce development and regulatory actions.
A key focus of the strategy is the implementation and leveraging of several new opportunities and funding sources to help build the market for zero emission trucks and buses in Colorado that collectively total nearly $1 billion in investments, not including several new federal discretionary grant programs.
“These new opportunities include proposed air quality investments in the governor’s 2023 budget for a new electric school bus incentive program, the development of the 10-Year Plans and initial program offerings for the Clean Fleet Enterprise, Clean Transit Enterprise and Community Access Enterprise, which will invest in vehicle incentives and charging infrastructure, and historic new federal funding opportunities for charging infrastructure, hydrogen refueling infrastructure and electric school bus and transit bus investments,” according to the news release.
“Following the near-term development of these foundational programs, the administration will, by the end of the year, submit a request to set a hearing to the state Air Quality Control Commission to consider adopting rules to reduce pollution from diesel vehicles and to further support the transition to zero emission trucks and buses.”