Cities received some much-needed regulatory breathing room following a years-long advocacy effort by the League of California Cities. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) directed its staff to work with Cal Cities to draft new language for its proposed Advanced Clean Fleets regulations to provide greater flexibility for public agencies. The new language must be developed by winter 2023.
The proposed regulations have been under development since February 2020. Cal Cities has repeatedly raised concerns about the high costs of the proposed regulations while also acknowledging the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With a few exceptions, most government agencies in California would be impacted by the change.
The rule would require all medium- and heavy-duty diesel fleet vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 8,500 pounds or more to become zero-emission by 2045. Fifty percent of new Class 2b-8 vehicle purchases, such as garbage trucks, would need to be zero-emission starting Jan. 1, 2024. That requirement would accelerate to 100% by 2027.
During a recent October hearing, Cal Cities highlighted the significant challenges associated with the unfunded mandate, including the commercial availability of such vehicles and whether utilities would be able to provide the necessary charging infrastructure and grid reliability. Cal Cities also expressed concern about the lack of price caps for replacement vehicles and vendor reliability.
Additionally, Cal Cities noted that cities budget in two-year cycles, and many capital improvement projects are done every five years or so. If the proposed regulations were enacted, cities would not be able to budget for the required infrastructure in time for compliance, potentially forcing cities to sacrifice programs that are essential for communities.
In addition to working with CARB, Cal Cities will work with the California Public Utilities Commission and California Energy Commission to craft a more workable rule that addresses infrastructure concerns.
Several cities in opposition shared similar concerns during the hearing. Other opposed organizations include the Association of California Water Agencies, California Municipal Utilities Association, California Special District Association, and the California Association of Sanitation Agencies.