In 2014 on American roadways, a total 3.0257 trillion vehicle miles of travel were recorded. Of that amount, 169.83 billion miles that year were tallied in heavy-duty trucks.1 Assuming the calculation is correct, that’s 5.612 percent.
In California in 2014, meanwhile, driving miles totaled 332.8572 billion or 11 percent of the 3.0257 trillion total miles logged that year in the U.S. If the same is true in California and about five-and-a-half percent of that is done in heavy-diesel trucks, then that means trucks in the Golden State recorded 18.3072 billion miles traveled.
Diesel vehicles emit harmful pollutants into the air and included in that are heavy-duty diesel trucks. How much? Just for fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) pollution, in 2014, heavy-duty diesel trucks spewed roughly 93 thousand short tons or 58.9 percent particulate matter among all highway vehicles, both gasoline- and diesel-powered alike.2
And, the implications for breathing in diesel PM in California, are far-reaching. How serious a matter is this?
Diesel-exhaust-containing particulate matter – or diesel PM – is linked to the deaths of an estimated 1,400 Californians each year.
“Trucks are the largest single source of air pollution from vehicles, responsible for 70 percent of the smog-causing pollution and 80 percent of carcinogenic diesel soot even though they number only 2 million among the 30 million registered vehicles in the state,” so stated the California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board (ARB) in its Jun. 25, 2020 “California takes bold step to reduce truck pollution: First-of-its-kind requirement for electric trucks will help communities hardest hit by air pollution,” news release.
Keeping emissions in check
On Jun. 25, 2020 the ARB stated in the release that it had “adopted a first-in-the-world rule requiring truck manufacturers to transition from diesel trucks and vans to electric zero-emission trucks beginning in 2024. By 2045, every new truck sold in California will be zero-emission.”
Adding to this, California Secretary for Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld in the release said: “‘California is an innovation juggernaut that is going electric. We are showing the world that we can move goods, grow our economy and finally dump dirty diesel.’”
Further, the measure establishes a national and global standard for clean trucks, and to date it is the “most important air pollution regulation” for the administration of California Governor Gavin Newsom, this also according to the ARB.
“Many California neighborhoods, especially Black and Brown, low-income and vulnerable communities, live, work, play and attend schools adjacent to the ports, railyards, distribution centers, and freight corridors and experience the heaviest truck traffic,” and “[t]his new rule directly addresses disproportionate risks and health and pollution burdens affecting these communities and puts California on the path for an all zero-emission short-haul drayage fleet in ports and railyards by 2035, and zero-emission ‘last-mile’ delivery trucks and vans by 2040.”
“This requirement to shift to zero-emission trucks, along with the ongoing shift to electric cars, will help California meet its climate goals and federal air quality standards, especially in the Los Angeles region and the San Joaquin Valley – areas that suffer the highest levels of air pollution in the nation. …,” the ARB insisted.
That all said, some 300,000 non-polluting trucks will haul goods and serve in other various capacities in California by 2035.
- Davis, Stacy C. and Robert G. Boundy, “Table 5.2 Summary Statistics for Class 7-8 Combination Trucks, 1970-2015,” p. 5-3, Transportation Energy Data Book: Edition 36, published Dec. 2017, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
- Ibid, “Table 12.11 Emissions of Particulate Matter (PM-2.5) from Highway Vehicles, 1990-2014” p. 12-12
Image above: California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board
This post was last revised on Jun. 27, 2020 @ 6:49 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.