Fifteen US states as well as the territory of the Federal Capital, the District of Columbia have fallen in behind California’s lead by announcing that they will require all heavy-duty trucks, vans, and buses to become emission free  in the medium term.

The move is the most significant effort to reduce diesel engine pollution in the United States

The other US states which have signed the agreement along with California and Washington, DC include Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington state. 

California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) made its announcement in late June proposing that all commercial trucks and vans must be zero-emission by 2045, with milestones along the way. The state previously announced a rule in 2018 that required transit agencies to purchase all electric buses starting from 2029. 

The other states have agreed to similar goals making 100 per cent of all new medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales to be zero emission vehicles by 2050, with an interim target of 30 per cent by 2030 according to the New York Governor’s office

The agreement is not legally binding, however California has long been a leader in pushing clean energy vehicles, dating back to the passenger vehicle initiative it spearheaded in the 1990s that helped bring more electric cars to the United States. More than a dozen states have followed California’s lead on zero-emission passenger vehicles. 

The state’s role as an emissions standard-bearer has only been elevated during Donald Trump’s tenure as president.

Despite the fact that humanity is dealing with a growing climate crisis, Trump has spent three years working to roll back environmental protections and pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord.

In March, he rolled back Barack Obama’s presidency fuel economy standards that was to be a cornerstone in the fight against rising global emissions.

California responded to the rollback by getting four automotive manufacturers to increase fuel economy standards on a similar level to Obama’s original rules.

Daimler, Tesla, Volvo, and China’s BYD are all working on electric trucks, while startups like Chanje, Arrival, Nikola, and Rivian (which is building 100,000 electric delivery vans for Amazon) have electric trucks or vans in the works as well. Electric buses are already on the road thanks to companies like BYD and California’s Proterra.