Washington follows California’s lead when it comes to pursuing a zero-emission transportation industry.

Washington follows California’s lead when it comes to pursuing a zero-emission transportation industry.


Did you know that Washington State is now legally linked to the motor vehicle emissions standards of California? Thanks to legislation passed in 2020, Washington is now bound by law to follow California’s lead and will also be implementing California's zero-emission vehicle program. 

Did you know that this idea of committing Washington State to follow lockstep with California was not put before the voters? SB 5811 narrowly passed both chambers of the legislature and was signed by the Governor. In a tweet, Governor Inslee praised this legislation as a milestone “bringing us one step closer to a zero-emission transportation future.”

Did you know that on April 28th of this year, the California Air Resources Board approved a ban on new diesel trucks? This new rule will take effect in 2036. The board also made a unanimous decision that, by 2024, the trucking industry within the state must be carbon-free. The expectation by the trucking industry is that these rules will be coming to Washington. Sheri Call, Washington Trucking Associations President and CEO, stated, “We’re in a position where the Legislature ceded authority to California.”


Finally, did you know that, because of California’s transportation rules, 18 states have issued a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over their support of California’s projected prohibition of heavy diesel vehicles? Iowa is one of the states involved in the lawsuit. A press release from Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird stated, “California’s truck ban will not only increase costs, but it will devastate the demand for liquid fuels, such as biodiesel, and cut trucking jobs across the nation.”

The Harbor Trucking Association (HTA), a coalition of carriers operating in California and Washington, issued a press release on this issue. Matt Schrap, HTA’s CEO, said “If we want to see sustainable emission reductions that are meant to protect the health of local communities, we will need a more targeted approach that truly takes into account the woeful lack of fueling infrastructure for heavy-duty ZEVs along with the technical limitations of the available equipment.”


This same concern is being expressed within the agriculture industry as farmers and ranchers anticipate what an electric future for the transportation of their commodities might look like. Nearly 83% of the United States’ agricultural products are moved via trucks and 92% of dairy, fruit, vegetables, and nuts are dependent upon the trucking industry for their shipment. 


Ryan Thode, a farmer in Lewis County, expressed concern regarding the logistics of arranging power to the various farming communities. Thode said, “Right now, my main shop, which is on a main highway, has three-phase power about half a mile down the road. It'd be $100,000 to get it into my shop. Besides that, most of agriculture is in more rural areas, so having that charging infrastructure or power infrastructure to charge those trucks is going to be very slim.”


On top of the need for power, there is also the need for servicing of the trucks as well as the anticipated maintenance. Thode acknowledged, “We already have a shortage of diesel technicians. We're talking about starting a whole new industry of high voltage technicians.”


The practical, logistical, and financial burdens of California’s transportation rules will be felt far beyond the transportation sector. As Washington leaders impose these rules upon this state, the expected ripple effect will deeply impact sectors of our economy that depend upon trucking for the transportation of their goods. For many, those expectations are simply unrealistic. Matt Schrap, HTA’s CEO, expressed this sentiment when he said, “No one in our industry has said we can’t get there, but the timelines contained in the rule are too much, too fast.”

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