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Colorado agencies launch comprehensive clean trucking strategy

July 14, 2020 - Statewide News

Today, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), and the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) announced that the state is signing a multi-state Memorandum of Understanding to work collaboratively to advance the market for electric trucks and buses. The agencies also announced a public process to work with the industry and community stakeholders to develop a broad set of strategies to reduce emissions from heavy-duty vehicles. With transportation now the largest source of air pollution in Colorado -- and with our economy increasingly reliant on freight, as exemplified during the COVID-19 crisis -- it is critical that the state develop a thoughtful and balanced approach that provides a pathway for emissions reductions from this key sector.

"The last several months during COVID-19 have reinforced how critical the freight sector is to keeping Colorado moving,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. “We have seen our economy adapt to new models such as increased reliance on deliveries, which also means more trucking.  As we move towards the future, it is critical that we consider how we can innovate together to ensure that the freight sector grows in a way that leads to both a thriving economy and cleaner air.  We commend the Colorado Motor Carriers Association for their willingness to collaborate with state agencies as we work together to bring stakeholders together for this timely conversation."

“As utilities rapidly shift to renewable sources of energy to power their grids, we have an opportunity to magnify the benefits by supporting large-scale electrification of transportation including trucks and buses” said CEO Executive Director Will Toor. “We will explore opportunities for collaboration among utilities, manufacturers, fleets and the public sector to reduce emissions in the state’s truck fleet while keeping this vital part of the economy thriving for us all.”

“Colorado’s legislature has charged the state’s Air Quality Control Commission and Air Pollution Control Division to develop comprehensive programs to combat climate change, ozone and other pollutants,” said CDPHE Director of Environmental Programs John Putnnam.  “With the transition of the electric power sector, transportation is now our largest source of greenhouse gases and of nitrogen oxide precursors driving our serious ozone nonattainment status. It’s also a matter of environmental justice; transportation drives disproportionate pollution burdens in communities like North Denver and Commerce City. We have established a strong track record of working collaboratively with stakeholders to solve these problems creatively and thoughtfully; we are looking to take a similar approach with heavy duty vehicles and trucks.”

“The Colorado Motor Carriers Association and the 100,000 people within the trucking industry in Colorado appreciate the importance of improving our environment and air quality,” said CMCA President Greg Fulton. “Our track record as an industry has been one of continuous improvement with emissions on a new diesel truck being down by 95% from one built in 1988.  We are committed to further improving and reducing our emissions not only to meet EPA standards but more importantly to enhance the quality of life for all Coloradoans.  We welcome the opportunity to work with the state in a collaborative fashion toward finding the right mix of cost-effective and proven strategies and actions, involving all fuel and power sources, to achieve our common goal of improved air quality. Finally, we recommend that the focus be on incentives and voluntary measures, such as the EPA SmartWay program, which have proven successful in the past not only in our state but elsewhere.”

With this announcement, the agencies are committed to a collaborative dialogue regarding development of a balanced approach to clean trucking -- using this draft strategy as a starting point for that conversation.  Agencies will engage community stakeholders including, but not limited to: motor carriers, local governments, communities who reside in close proximity to heavy duty freight corridors, truck manufacturers, environmental and public health experts,environmental organizations and others.  In addition, the agencies will hold a series of public meetings to help kick off the conversation and identify further opportunities for dialogue. 

A copy of the draft strategy is available below. 

Clean truck strategy document

Today, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Department of Transportation, and the Colorado Energy Office jointly invite stakeholders including industry, government, communities impacted by high levels of vehicle pollution, and advocacy partners to join us in a dialogue about how we can develop an all-of-the-above strategy towards reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas pollution in this important component of the transportation sector. With transportation now the largest source of air pollution in Colorado -- and with our economy increasingly reliant on freight, as exemplified during the COVID-19 crisis -- it is critical that we develop a thoughtful and balanced approach that provides a pathway for emissions reductions in this critical area.  

Colorado agencies’ exploration of clean truck policies will begin with analysis and dialogue around a number of key areas, that include: 

  • Accelerating opportunities for fleet turnover within the conventional truck fleet, including diesel emissions reduction strategies:  As motor carriers have noted, decades-old diesel trucks, manufactured prior to the enactment of more recent federal emissions standards for medium and heavy duty trucks, play an outsized role in current fleet emissions.  These federal standards were strengthened beginning in Model Year 2014, with a second set of stronger federal standards beginning in Model Years 2018 or 2021, depending on the class of vehicles.  Continuing to pursue a variety of strategies to ensure that the diesel fleet is as clean as possible should be an important component of a clean truck strategy.  Colorado is exploring a number of opportunities to design and support a public-private partnership program that focuses on displacing high emitting diesel trucks with cleaner models.  This could be structured to increasingly reward models that meet the most rigorous emissions standards. 

  • Developing infrastructure to support zero emission vehicles in medium and heavy duty fleets:  As zero emission vehicle truck technologies including electrification and hydrogen fuel cells proliferate, their success will depend on a robust network of charging and fueling infrastructure.  Colorado looks forward to working with utilities and other industry partners to identify a strategy for supporting this sector with charging and fueling infrastructure; 

  • Incorporating clean technologies into key freight corridors and highway projects and developing a strategy for medium/heavy duty ZEV fueling infrastructure along these critical routes: As we consider the future of Colorado’s infrastructure, it is critical that we support trucking along corridors that are important to our freight network.  This includes features such as runaway truck ramps and signage to designate steep grades and other safety concerns, and it should also incorporate improvements that facilitate cleaner trucking -- be it fueling infrastructure or elements that can help reduce pollution along those corridors.  We look forward to discussing how to incorporate features into our freight corridors and transportation projects that can improve air quality as we move freight safely and efficiently. This will include a careful look at the siting for charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure, working with utilities and other industry partners, with a focus on areas of the state where medium and heavy duty fleet operations with potential to be early adopters are concentrated. 

  • Exploring opportunities for cleaner fleets:  Across the country, major fleets such as UPS and Amazon are leading by example through planning large scale procurement of electric trucks.  We invite major fleet owners to engage in a discussion about how best to support large scale transition to ZEV fleets, including identifying what vehicle classes work best for early adoption, and what complementary policies can support fleet transition. We also invite shippers and carriers to explore acquisition of refrigerated trailers with electric standby units as well as having the necessary charging system to support those units at distribution or receiving sites. 

  • Exploring potential adoption of Advanced Clean Truck standards for medium and heavy trucks:  As manufacturers introduce new ZEV technologies into the market, we must explore all options to ensure that Colorado truck consumers have access to innovations that are being made available elsewhere in the country.  Thus, as other states explore Advanced Clean Truck regulations, Colorado is beginning an analysis of its own as to both the pros and cons of joining the program, as well as potential regulatory flexibilities that may be allowable under the Clean Air Act should Colorado pursue rulemaking.

  • Exploring Emission Reductions for Last Mile Freight Delivery and Pickup and Deployment of Sustainable Options:  Both locally and on the internet, home and business deliveries have increased substantially.  Downtown business areas have been affected. As we seek to reduce emissions in those areas, diminish congestion and make those areas more pedestrian-friendly, it is important that we work with logistics companies and businesses on a series of strategies to achieve those objectives. These include the greater adoption of cleaner and zero emission vehicles, use of routing optimization software, providing advanced parking solutions for deliveries, establishing freight consolidation centers, encouraging off-peak deliveries, and creating strategies to reduce dwell time and idling. 

  • Working with and Assisting Truck Dealerships and Private Maintenance Shops in Supporting Workforce Development and ZEV Vehicle Implementation: Moving toward ZEV vehicles will require some significant investments on the part of truck dealers, private repair shops, and fleets with their own on-site maintenance.  These groups will need to retrofit and upgrade their facilities to perform maintenance on these vehicles, as well as train mechanics and other personnel to service them.  This could be part of a larger workforce development effort targeted at increasing the number of mechanics and technicians. It is critical that the State work with these different maintenance operations on how we can better support the movement toward more ZEV trucks.  

  • Encouraging Private Fleets to Become Partners in the Voluntary EPA SmartWay Program: The SmartWay Transport Partnership is a collaborative program among logistics companies and the EPA.  It helps companies to adopt and implement technologies and strategies that will reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency. 

  • Leading by example through green procurement: The State is committed to “walking the walk” and will take a leading role toward reducing emissions from medium and heavy-duty trucks, both in its own fleet and with those private fleets with which it conducts business.  The State is already working to turn over its light duty fleet to ZEV and more efficient fleet vehicles – including reducing the footprint of vehicles, where possible, to categories that are available in more efficient models.  As more ZEV and hybrid options become available in the medium and heavy duty market, state procurement targets should look to these vehicle classes as well.  Further, the state will explore whether there are options to improve air quality performance on its projects during construction. 

With this announcement, agencies are committed to a collaborative dialogue regarding development of a balanced approach to clean trucking -- using this draft strategy as a starting point for that conversation.  Agencies will consider targeted outreach to stakeholders including, but not limited to: motor carriers, local governments, communities who reside in close proximity to heavy duty freight corridors, truck manufacturers, environmental and public health experts, and others.  In addition, the agencies will hold a series of listening sessions to help kick off the conversation and identify further opportunities for dialogue. 

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