Mainers have made their voices heard about a proposal to gradually bring more clean vans, trucks and buses to our roads. The state’s mandatory 45% cut in greenhouse-gas emissions looms, and this rule – the Advanced Clean Trucks program – is necessary for the state to hit this target.

Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, while only comprising around 5% of the vehicles on our roads, contribute more than a quarter of climate-damaging transportation emissions. And Mainers would also breathe easier if these vehicles were cleaned up: Trucks disproportionately release air pollution that causes cancer and is harmful to people even at low doses and for short periods of time.

However, the trucks, vans, and buses at issue here – and the workers that rely on them – are the backbone of Maine’s society. These vehicles deliver our food and heating fuels in the winter, they bring our children to school, they build our homes and they support and enable our heritage industries.

I love Maine for the brook trout running in the Rapid River and the chance to see a moose along Route 16, putting the climate crisis and its negative effects on our beloved pastimes – and industries – front of mind.

Thankfully, there’s a solution that slashes climate-damaging emissions, saves lives and protects the businesses that rely on these vehicles. The Advanced Clean Trucks rule will never rush a clean vehicle into a job that it’s not ready for. And it will never force a Maine business to purchase a particular vehicle. Instead, it sets a standard for manufacturers.

Under the rule, Maine would gradually transition to clean vehicles over the next decade – only 15% of trucks on the road in 2035 would be zero-emission. This means that our loggers and long-haulers can continue using the trucks they trust for years to come, while proven electric vehicles like delivery vans, school buses and refuse trucks can be on a faster track to clean air and cost savings. And the rule recognizes that one size does not fit all. It allows for many different types of clean vehicles, like electric, fuel-cell electric and even hybrids – trucks that have combustion engines paired with a battery.


The rule’s flexible approach was designed with truck manufacturers, who do not oppose it. They’re the ones who would pay fines if they don’t sell enough clean vehicles, not Mainers. The rule has already been adopted in states around the country, including some with cold climates and mountainous landscapes, like Vermont and Colorado.

There’s much to be done to ensure a successful transition to clean trucks and buses. Fortunately, the hard work is already underway, with Maine’s regulators working with utilities and stakeholders right now to bolster our electricity grid, building charging infrastructure and helping fleet managers plan their transitions. Having this new rule in place enhances certainty about the state’s future, enabling more investment and better preparation, and the rule’s two-year lead time and gradual ramp up ensure that the infrastructure will be there when we need it. There’s also time to identify issues and explore and implement solutions.

For instance, the state could consider lifting the weight cap for electric trucks to account for their heavy batteries and allow them to move the same amount of cargo as their fossil fuel-powered counterparts.

Finally, there’s no denying the state will need to help with the purchase costs of some of these vehicles. Market growth will continue to drive purchase prices down. But this is a surmountable challenge in the meantime. First, billions of federal dollars are available to help businesses invest in these technologies. And second, once the purchase is made, these vehicles will save businesses money. That’s because the fueling and maintenance costs are so much lower than traditional trucks. Businesses around the country are already investing in clean trucks and vans because they make good economic sense.

Clean vehicle advocates recognize that not all medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles are ready for prime time today. Fortunately, the Advanced Clean Trucks program was carefully designed with the full array of vehicle models and uses in mind. Maine is ready for this program, a reasonable approach to cleaning up our medium- and heavy-duty transportation sector.

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