Energy Exchange

Chip shortage highlights the need for coordinated federal, state policy on zero-emission vehicles

By Casey Horan

Recently, a friend sought my help in finding a zero-emission upgrade for his old gas-guzzler. Incentivized by increased cost-competitiveness and a desire to be more environmentally conscious, he was eager to see the new zero-emission vehicle models. To our dismay, dealer after dealer informed us that, not only was the supply for all new ZEVs backed up for months, but prices had increased significantly. Why? Every dealer cited supply chain issues.

A global shortage of chips — tiny semiconductors that make all our electronics work — has forced automakers to delay or halt production for all new vehicles, including ZEVs. While this specific disruption will not impact the long-term market adoption of ZEVs, it does underscore the need to boost domestic manufacturing. The U.S. must not allow an overreliance on foreign suppliers for ZEV components to impede our ability to meet transportation electrification targets, including for medium- and heavy-duty ZEVs, which are a critical part of plans to reduce emissions and address public health and equity concerns across the nation.

To prevent further market instability and delay, Congress should pass the Build Back Better Act and states must implement coordinated policies to encourage investment in domestic supply of essential ZEV parts.

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After banner EV commitments at COP26, it’s time for U.S. to lead

By Jason Mathers and Peter Zalzal

The global convening of international climate leaders at COP 26 delivered transformative commitments from countries and companies around the pace of transition to zero-emission vehicles. Leading automakers such as Ford, GM and Mercedes-Benz, as well as more than two dozen countries agreed that by 2035, all new cars sold should be zero-emission. Fifteen countries also agreed that the same should be achieved for trucks and buses by 2040.

It’s great to see global commitments to these targets (which EDF has previously called for), because transportation is the primary source of climate pollution and a leading cause of premature deaths around the world. However, missing from both of these historic agreements was the United States.

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Methane Momentum at COP26: What you missed and what’s ahead

Methane had a major moment on the world’s stage last week at the annual United Nations climate conference when more than 100 countries pledged to reduce global methane emissions by 30% this decade. Not only that, we also saw the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency propose enhanced protections to reduce methane pollution from oil and gas infrastructure nationwide. Both actions are critically important to help rapidly cut emissions of a potent climate pollutant that’s driving at least a quarter of current global warming.

The acute focus on the world’s methane problem — and consequently what to do about it — was elevated in the most recent assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But it’s also been the result of tireless decades of work and effort led by scientists, policy experts and environmental advocates who have been actively studying the major sources of methane emissions in search of potential solutions. Many stopped by the Methane Moment pavilion at COP 26 to share insights about what led to this moment, and where we go from here.

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Here’s what you need to know about EPA’s landmark methane proposal

By Edwin LaMair and Grace Smith

Last week the Environmental Protection Agency proposed methane standards that will, for the first time, apply to the nation’s nearly one million existing oil and gas wells and other facilities. A critical step that charts a path to major emission cuts.

As methane takes the spotlight on the world stage and countries raise their ambition for cutting this potent greenhouse gas, EPA’s final rules will play a central role in U.S. commitments to reducing methane and achieving climate goals.

The proposals to reduce oil and gas methane emissions, the largest industrial source of methane in the U.S., were met with widespread public support, not only from environmental groups, but also health and child advocates, tribal officials and investors concerned about climate risk.

To comprehensively protect our communities and climate, EPA must further strengthen its proposal — as it has stated it plans to do in a supplemental proposal issued next spring — by requiring monitoring across smaller, leak-prone wells and eliminating the wasteful and polluting practice of routine flaring.

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New California law will make it easier to finance electric trucks, buses

By Michael Colvin and Lauren Navarro

Gov. Newsom signed a new law today that will help accelerate the much-needed transition to electric trucks and buses. In addition to transforming the California market and cleaning up the state’s air, this law can serve as a national model for other states interested in accelerating the adoption of clean trucks and buses.

The new law, Senate Bill 372, directs the California Air Resources Board and the state treasurer’s office to offer a suite of financial incentives to help owners of medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses pay for the costs of replacing their diesel-fueled fleets with cleaner, zero-emission alternatives. Examples include a loan loss reserve, credit enhancements, performance warranties and sale guarantees.

What is particularly innovative about this new law is that it uses the public dollar to attract private capital in ways that traditional rebates do not. Research indicates that this leverage will be critical to getting clean trucks and buses on the road at scale.

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A new way to track truck pollution

By Timothy O’Connor and Aileen Nowlan

SunPower, a solar power and energy services provider, is starting to ship solar panels in electric heavy-duty trucks powered by — you guessed it — solar energy. The question that communities and investors are starting to ask is, why isn’t everybody?

How long can a company go without a plan to end goods transport powered by fossil fuels, and what are the health and climate consequences of the status quo?

Despite making up only about 4% of the vehicles on the road, diesel trucks are responsible for over half the smog-forming pollution from the transportation sector and a quarter of the climate emissions. This pollution is projected to grow, as demand for freight moved by trucks is on track to increase about 25% by 2030.

The local impact of this pollution is significant. Recent studies in places such as Oakland, California and Houston — two regions with large port operations and associated goods movement equipment located in or near environmental justice communities — have proven that diesel truck pollution leads to increases in childhood asthma rates and lower life expectancies in frontline communities.

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