June 1, 2023

California Dems lobby DOT for $700M electric truck charging project


WASHINGTON — California Democrats on Capitol Hill are pushing Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to award $700 million to set up a zero-emission multistate freight corridor for medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

Federal money for the West Coast Truck Charging and Fueling Corridor Project is being sought through a joint application filed by California, Oregon and Washington with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

If DOT approves the project application in the amount requested, it will take up the entire $700 million that the agency made available in its first round of funding, for fiscal years 2022-2023, in its Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) competitive grant program. Applications for the funding round are due June 13.

“We strongly support the grant application from the States of California, Oregon and Washington for $700 million for the West Coast Truck Charging and Fueling Corridor Project,” wrote U.S. Reps. Pete Aguilar and Grace Napolitano, both California Democrats, in a Friday letter to Buttigieg. The letter was also signed by the state’s two Democratic U.S. senators and 37 other Democratic representatives from the state.

“This first-of-its-kind project will create a network of charging and hydrogen fueling stations and enable zero-emission trucking from Mexico to Canada, linking ports and major freight centers in California, Oregon and Washington.

“This project will further support key policy actions in California, Oregon and Washington that require the sale of zero-emission trucks beginning in model year 2024. This investment will be critical to scaling the zero-emission truck industry and job creation expected with this transition.”

The CFI grant program, established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, provides $2.5 billion over five years to fund electric vehicle (EV) charging and alternative-fueling infrastructure along interstates and major roads to help meet a key Biden administration goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

EPA recently proposed stronger carbon dioxide standards for model year 2027 trucks. The standards go beyond the current standards that apply under a previous EPA rule. It is also proposing an additional set of emission standards that would begin to apply in model year 2028, with progressively tighter standards each model year through 2032.

By 2045, new trucks available for sale must be zero-emission vehicles — a goal that can be reached only by EVs powered by batteries or hydrogen fuel cells.

Trucking in California is under added pressure to reduce emissions under the state’s Advanced Clean Trucks and Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) rules. ACF bars the registration of any new vehicles into the state’s drayage sector after Jan. 1, 2025, that are not zero-emission vehicles.

The proposed charging and fueling project sponsored by the three West Coast states is similar to a $650 million private project being set up through a joint venture among Daimler Truck North America (DTNA), NextEra Energy Resources and BlackRock Alternatives.

Trademarked as Greenlane, the partnership will design, install and operate a nationwide zero-emission public charging and hydrogen fueling network for medium- and heavy-duty battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

The first charging site will be in Southern California, with plans to expand along major freight routes on the U.S. East and West coasts and in Texas. Greenlane will focus initially on battery-electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicles followed by hydrogen fueling stations for fuel cell trucks.

While Greenlane is not being funded with public money, “there is certainly the interest in working with the public sector to use some of the allocation of money to help build out needed infrastructure where a site-specific business case otherwise doesn’t make a lot of sense in the short term,” a DTNA spokesperson told FreightWaves.

“There are many places along critical freight corridors where this is true, and that’s where federal help is needed.”

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.

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