California legislators call on Governor to take technology-neutral approach to HDV decarbonization plans
Nine members of the California state legislature sent a formal letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom urging that he take a technology-neutral approach to decarbonization and not focus the state’s transportation sector investments solely on battery-electric vehicles, particularly in medium- and heavy-duty transportation applications where they say fuel cell electric vehicles may be the only solution.
The governor recently issued Executive Order N-79-20, which requires sales of all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emission by 2035 and all operations of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to be 100% zero emission by 2045 where feasible, with the mandate going into effect by 2035 for drayage trucks. (Earlier post.)
It is critical that at the early stages of achieving this righteous goal, we do not pick winners and losers with regard to various zero emission technologies. Even within the text of the Executive Order, there are different guidelines for passenger and heavy-duty vehicles, which highlights the fundamental fact that the needs of various vehicle classes are diverse, dependent upon their individual utilization, and unlikely to be solved by a single zero emission solution.
Thankfully, we currently have two zero emission technologies at our disposal as we seek to both clean up our local air quality and reduce our contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions. However, in order to leverage these zero emission technology options, it is imperative that the state take a technology-neutral approach to regulatory and legislative efforts that seek to inch us closer to a fully carbon-free transportation sector. There will be no fell-swoop solution, there is no silver bullet, and we must support and advance every zero emission mobility option possible as we work to realize the goals set forth in your Executive Order.
We stand deeply concerned about the impacts of medium- and heavy-duty trucks, buses, vessels, locomotives and off-road equipment on our local air quality and greenhouse gas emissions. These sectors are particularly difficult to convert to zero emission, and are especially well-suited for hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Many in the scientific community believe that hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles are the only feasible approach to achieving zero emissions in these heavy-duty and commercial sector applications.—Letter to the governor
Copies of the letter were sent also to California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chair Mary Nichols and California Energy Commission (CEC) Chair David Hochschild.
The three-page letter—which represents the first time legislators have formally responded to Newsom’s recent Executive Order on zero-emission vehicles — says there has been a disproportionate focus on battery-electric vehicle technology through the state’s many funding programs administered by CARB and the CEC.
We have observed that hydrogen fuel cell electric mobility solutions have been largely deprioritized compared to battery-based vehicles. But, that single technology (battery electric) will not get us there alone and fuel cell electric vehicles will need to be a significant part of our zero emission portfolio, particularly in the heavy-duty and commercial sectors.—Letter to the governor
The Western States Hydrogen Alliance (WSHA)—a nonprofit industry organization focused on the deployment of fuel cell electric vehicles in heavy-duty and commercial settings throughout the Western US—said that the letter is a sign of frustration within the Legislature that state agencies have invested heavily in just one zero-emission technology.
The nine signatories of the letter called on Newsom to include hydrogen fuel cell technology in all administrative and agency efforts to achieve the goals outlined in the executive order.
Signatories to the letter, initiated and organized by Senator Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera), include Archuleta, Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Ventura), Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson), Assemblyember Marc Levine (D-Marin County), Assemblymember James Ramos (D-Highlands), and Assemblymember Autumn Burke (D- Inglewood).