Maryland Passes Clean Trucks Act With Key Caveats
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Rather than rubber-stamping California’s truck emission standards, Maryland lawmakers passed the Clean Trucks Act of 2023 that is viewed as a fair compromise reflecting trucking industry concerns.
Recently passed state General Assembly legislation (in both Senate Bill 224/House Bill 230) is with Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, who is expected to enact it.
Once the Clean Trucks Act becomes law, it will take effect June 1. It seeks to increase by model-year 2027 zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles (with a gross vehicle weight rating equal to or greater than 14,001 pounds) and medium-duty vehicles (8,501 pounds to 14,000 pounds).
Louis Campion, president and CEO of Maryland Motor Truck Association, told Transport Topics he views the legislation as a fair compromise since it “started as simply straight adoption of California’s rules. We worked with the equipment manufacturers association, Volvo Trucks and the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association to draft extensive amendments that require a needs assessment before implementation of the ACT (California’s Advanced Clean Trucks regulation).”
The legislation was eventually hammered out during multiple bill readings, motions, amendments and votes in both chambers until final passage.
“Yes, ZEV [zero-emission vehicle] trucks are coming, but Maryland made the wise decision not to simply adopt an artificial mandate that cannot be achieved in our state without proper planning and development,” Campion said.
While the Maryland Department of the Environment must adopt the Clean Trucks Act as a regulation by Dec. 1, the DOE must conduct a thorough needs assessment with input from several state agencies (the state Energy Administration, departments of transportation and general services, and public service commission).
This assessment must examine key factors like additional electrical capacity, transmission distribution demands and hydrogen fueling output. The state would also have to determine how Maryland’s electric utilities, grid and hydrogen infrastructure could fulfill new energy demands brought about by enacting the zero-emission standards.
The state also must factor in the number of zero–emission medium– and heavy–duty vehicle recharging and refueling stations needed, what types of new regulations are required and costs, permitting processes and station instillation timelines.
The needs assessment must evaluate incentives (including those for recharging and refueling stations/related infrastructure as well as funding sources).
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In addition, consideration must be given to the economic feasibility and available vehicle models for the clean vehicle transition for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the state vehicle fleet, including state-contracted vehicles.
Then the state DOT must provide its findings in the needs assessment to the General Assembly by Dec. 1, 2024.
Campion explained that Maryland’s law would authorize the state to potentially delay implementation if the needs assessment determines it is infeasible to proceed.
“Since this doesn’t take effect until the 2027 model year, we will have data from California, New York and other earlier adopters to see if they have been able to hit the targets in the ACT,” he said. “We believe a state should want to undertake a needs assessment like the one [Maryland] required if they want to successfully deploy ZEV trucks in a realistic time.”
Campion suggested states thinking of adopting California’s ACT “should want to look at these issues prior to implementation. Otherwise, you are just passing an artificial and unachievable mandate that will do nothing to advance zero-emission vehicles in the trucking industry.”