California preparing to ban diesel trucks with newly approved rule. Is Minnesota next?

Last week, California became the first state in America to approve a regulation ending diesel truck sales by 2036, according to the Washington Examiner. Will Minnesota follow California’s lead by adopting the same restrictions?

About the ban

Last week, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) unanimously approved a regulation called the Advanced Clean Fleets rule, which will phase out the use of medium and heavy-duty diesel truck sales by the year 2036 and requires that all trucks traveling in California producing zero emissions by 2045, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

The rule is complicated because there are different standards for different-sized vehicles. New trucks used to transport freight from an ocean port to a destination, called drayage in the industry, will need to be “Zero Emissions,” or electric, by January 1, 2024.

Existing diesel-powered trucks can continue operating, but they will be phased out when they hit 800,000 miles (diesel engines last a long time) or after 18 years old, whichever comes first.

The table below from Freight Waves helps show the different standards for trucks by size in California under the diesel truck ban. Box trucks, vans, buses with two axles, yard tractors, and light duty delivery vehicles must be 100 percent “zero emissions” by 2035, work trucks, day cab drivers and buses with three axels by 2039, and sleeper cabs and specialty vehicles by 2042.

What could possibly go wrong?

These rules are crazy. California already ran out of Uhauls in 2022 because so many people were leaving the state. It is highly unlikely that requiring all of these trucks to be electric by 2035 will help alleviate the Uhaul shortfall in the future.

The trucking industry also has grave concerns. According to Wave Freight, the American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear lamented the actions of “an unelected board [forcing] trucking companies to buy zero-emission trucks.”

“Fleets are just beginning to understand what it takes to successfully operate these trucks, but what they have learned so far is they are significantly more expensive, charging and refueling infrastructure is nonexistent, and ZEVs are not necessarily a one-for-one replacement — meaning more trucks will be needed on California roads to move the same amount of freight,” Spear said.

Is Minnesota next?

The worst part about these California truck regulations is that they could be coming to Minnesota. Last year, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) claimed it has the authority to adopt even more of California’s mandates banning the sale of gasoline and small diesel-powered engines and new regulations on diesel trucks.

As a result, Governor Walz could force California’s truck ban on Minnesota by adopting these regulations through the administrative rulemaking process he used to enact the original California car mandates requiring automakers to stock electric vehicles in the state.

In this situation, the legislature or the general public would have almost no say in the matter. Although the MPCA held hearings on the rule, they ignored the concerns of citizens who (rightly) worried about the cost and reliability of electric vehicles and questioned whether the state should mandate them.

Perhaps Democratic governors like Newsom and Walz see these regulations as a way to keep people from moving out of state. Maybe they should try improving the quality of life for their citizens instead of making it more difficult to find a Uhaul.

If you or anyone you know works in the trucking industry and has anything they would like added to future articles on this topic, please get in touch with me at isaac.orr@americanexperiment(dot)org.