Mr. Victoria’s organization, the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, has now started to organize truck counts, with volunteers using clickers and clipboards to record the amount of traffic racing by. On Feb. 12, on State Route 60 near the Amazon hub, he and his colleagues counted 1,161 trucks in a single hour. The group later presented that number at a state regulatory hearing.
“You’re talking about upward of 21,500 trucks that travel through our communities per day,” he said. “Children oftentimes can’t play outside on certain days because the air quality is so bad.” And the pandemic has not slowed the truck traffic, given that more people have been shopping online.
Rachael L. Lighty, a spokeswoman for Amazon, said the online retailer’s Rivian order was the largest ever order of electric delivery vehicles. To help meet a goal to make 50 percent of all shipments carbon neutral by 2030, Amazon plans to put 10,000 new vehicles on the road as early as 2022, and 100,000 vehicles on the road by 2030, she said.
Attention now turns to the 14 states and the District of Columbia that have followed California’s lead in adhering to stricter emissions standards for passenger vehicles. California said it is already in talks with seven states and the District of Columbia to cooperate on electric trucks.
The Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association, which represents makers of internal combustion engines and trucks, has continued to argue that the industry, reeling from the pandemic, is hardly ready for tougher environmental regulations. “This is not a business-as-usual situation, and it should not be a regulation-as-usual situation, either,” it said in a letter to regulators in March.
The Western States Petroleum Association, an industry lobby group that represents oil companies like Chevron and Marathon Petroleum and which opposed the rule said that reducing emissions required keeping “all technologies on the table” including diesel. “Now is not the time to close ourselves off to creative solutions and technologies because of political divides,” said Tiffany Roberts, the group’s vice president of regulatory affairs. In a joint letter to California regulators in December, sent together with the California Chamber of Commerce and other industry groups, the petroleum association said that the rule would “not work in the real world.”
Still, the new rules have received strong political backing. In response to the industry’s concerns, 36 state lawmakers urged Gov. Gavin Newsom of California to “resist attempts by polluting industries to exploit our current crisis to loosen, rollback or delay” environmental rules. “Now more than ever, even as the federal administration works to dismantle fundamental regulations, we must uphold our commitment to safeguard Californians’ well-being,” they wrote.