The Air Resources Board is considering the Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) rule, which is vital for our air quality, climate, and environmental justice. ACF guides the transition of medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fleets to zero-emission. At an October Board Meeting, ARB staff agreed that advancing the timeline of 100% zero-emission trucks sales is vital to public health and responding to climate change.
Faith, public health, equity, policy and environmental advocates encouraged a stronger path at a rally ahead of the October meeting. CIPL’s new Northern California Director, Gregory Stevens, gave public comments, citing the urgent need to protect communities from polluting trucks, and to make the transition fair to truck owners and companies.
100% EV sales by 2035:
In response to the climate crisis and continual poor health outcomes due to fossil fuel pollution, Governor Newsom in 2020 ordered that, by 2035, all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California be zero-emission vehicles. Clean car advocates, anxiously witnessing the destruction from a changing climate, as well as the agency responsible for implementing the order, got to work.
Frontline communities – those hardest hit by transportation pollution – led advocates from the faith, environmental, public health, policy and equity sectors in the formation of the California Clean Cars Coalition. The coalition strategized, planned, attended ARB meetings, made public comments, and met with ARB board members and staff, all with the goal of updating the Advanced Clean Cars regulation in the most equitable and successful way possible.
On August 25, three dozen advocates from the Clean Cars Coalition assembled at the ARB meeting, where a vote on the ACC II Ruling would take place. Some advocates had never met in person; they knew each other only through the “Hollywood Squares” style of Zoom boxes. Ironically, I had never met Ector Olivares, head of Catholic Charities, Stockton, Environmental Justice Program in person, even though he is a CIPL Steering Committee and organizes a great group of faith leaders for our Advocacy Days! Excited discussions, laughing, and a true feeling of friendship abounded. We were all there because we were committed to making Californian’s health better and staving off the worst of climate impacts. All our public comments reflected this shared commitment.
The coalition in support of the ACC II ruling was strong and diverse and included: Catholic Charities, Stockton; Environmental Defense Fund; Union of Concerned Scientists; Clean Vehicle Empowerment Collaborative; Madera Coalition for Community Justice; Better World Group; Natural Resources Defense Council, and Elders Climate Action, and many others. Several automakers, EV battery producers, and other involved in EV production made supportive comments as well.
In all, 56 public comments were made to the Board in person and virtually. Roughly, 70% of the commenters supported ACC II. 30% were concerned about the cost of EVs, especially for lower-income persons, and the EV infrastructure needed to accommodate California’s EV future. Many of the proponents cited the decreased costs of EVs, especially the EV secondary market, and pointed to appreciable funding for the expansion of EV infrastructure.
After patiently listening to all comments, the Board took a vote. The vote was unanimous in support of ACC II, which paves the way for 100% EV cars and passenger trucks by 2035 in California and reduces criteria pollutants. All the Board members reflected on this decision as not just an accomplishment for California, but for other states discerning a 100% EV future, and for the way in which this vote will change the car culture. Hector de la Torre highlighted that, in the beginning of the internal combustion engine at the start of the 20th century, there were no gas stations. Gas had to be delivered to customers in five-gallon jugs or bought it at the local grocery or hardware store, and the cars were often dirty, noisy and smelly. De la Torre exclaimed ‘we are a lot further with EVs now that we were with ICE’s back then’ so concerns over EV charging infrastructure is fairly easy challenge to fix. Another Board member stated, ‘Polluting gas-powered had a good run for more than 100 years. It’s time for the rise of clean electric cars!’
All Board members were grateful and hopeful for positive impact that ACC II will have on improving public health and putting a dent in the climate crisis. Board member Dr. Tania Pacheco-Werner of the Central Valley, who has young children, said she was happy for her children and upcoming generations that will breathe cleaner air. She stated her intention to make ACC II successful, saying “We will not set up California to fail.” Member Diane Takvorian, who is Executive Director of the Environmental Health Coalition thanked ARB staff and all stakeholders involved, pointing to the “endless meetings” with multiple groups to make this happen.
Now the work on implementation begins. The vote was one thing; now it is up to ARB staff, and all stakeholders to ensure that the ruling is properly acted upon and equitable. A whole coalition of organizations and concerned individuals will continue action to make this happen.