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North Carolina hopes to adopt electric truck rules by year's end

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Governor's office
Gov. Roy Cooper (center) joined other officials touring electric trucks and buses outside a conference at NC State University in December.

North Carolina environmental officials hope to have a draft of new clean truck rules ready by May so they can hold public hearings this summer and adopt the rules by the end of the year.

Officials offered the timeline at a virtual information meeting Monday that comes ahead of public meetings beginning later this week, including one in Charlotte on Friday.

Gov. Roy Cooper's Executive Order 271, issued in October, calls for North Carolina to join California and six other states in adopting what are called Advanced Clean Truck rules, or ACT rules. The rules would order manufacturers to meet sales targets for electric trucks and buses, to help the state cut the pollution that causes global warming.

"It's imperative that we clean up this sector, these medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, if we want to achieve our climate and environmental justice goals," Cooper climate adviser Zach Pierce said during Monday's meeting.

Trucks and buses make up just over 3% of vehicles on state roads. But they emit more than one-quarter of all smog-forming pollutants from vehicles, according to state officials. And transportation is the state's largest source of carbon emissions.


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Officials said Monday that North Carolina hopes to adopt Advanced Clean Trucks rules that match or come close to those in other states. They include California, Oregon, Washington, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Vermont. Colorado is also starting its own rulemaking.

The rules would apply to any truck over 6,001 pounds — basically, pickups up to tractor-trailers. Sales targets would vary by size, between seven classes, with the goal of eventually 40%-75% of trucks sold in the state being zero-emission vehicles.

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NCDEQ Division of Air Quality
Environmental officials say North Carolina would adopt the same sales targets as seven other states. North Carolina would not join until the 2027 model year, but targets would be the same as other states that start earlier.

The rules would not apply to public buses and off-road vehicles such as farm and construction equipment, Pierce said. Those would be addressed in separate rules as part of the state's Clean Transportation Plan.

State officials will gather input over the next month to help draft the rules. If the state can meet its timeline for adopting the rules by year's end, they would not take effect until the 2027 model year, said Robin Barrows, of the DEQ's Division of Air Quality. That would give truck and bus makers two years to prepare.

Among the issues still to be decided are whether to assess penalties on vehicle makers that don't hit the targets and how to make sure fleet operators buy the vehicles.

Public input meetings are planned Friday in Charlotte and later this month in Burlington, Pembroke and online. Here's the schedule:

Comments also may be emailed daq.publiccomments@ncdenr.gov with subject line “Advanced Clean Trucks.” The deadline is Feb. 24.

More at DEQ.NC.gov/ACT.

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.