News | December 10, 2021

Virginia joins effort to curb pollution from heavier vehicles

Virginia joins 15 states, including North Carolina, that already committed to a goal of having at least 30% of all new medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales in the state be zero emission vehicles by no later than 2030, and 100% by no later than 2050. (©Robert Llewellyn)

This week Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced key steps to advance the Commonwealth’s efforts to curb vehicle pollution by signing the multi-state Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding.

Virginia joins 15 states, including North Carolina, that already signed the agreement. Each state commits to a goal of having at least 30% of all new medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales in the state be zero emission vehicles by no later than 2030, and 100% by no later than 2050.

“We applaud Governor Northam for joining this agreement,” said Trip Pollard, leader of SELC’s Land and Community Program. “Transportation is the largest source of climate pollution in Virginia, and this step to address medium- and heavy-duty vehicle emissions builds upon Virginia’s landmark adoption of Clean Car Standards for light-duty vehicles.”

Transportation accounts for almost 35% of total greenhouse gas emissions in Virginia, and heavy-duty vehicles—such as tractor-trailer trucks—contribute over a quarter of transportation greenhouse gas pollution. This pollution is a major driver of climate change, and Virginia and other states in our region are already experiencing climate change effects such as sea-level rise and extreme weather events, and economic impacts.

Transportation is the largest source of climate pollution in Virginia, and this step to address medium- and heavy-duty vehicle emissions builds upon Virginia’s landmark adoption of Clean Car Standards for light-duty vehicles.

Trip Pollard, Leader of SELC’s Land and Community Program

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, medium and heavy-duty vehicles make up less than 10% of all vehicles on the road, yet are responsible for over 60% of all tailpipe nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions from the on-road fleet. These emissions can cause serious public health impacts and they disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color—which are often located near freight corridors, ports, and distribution centers. Importantly, signatories of the MOU agree to work to accelerate deployment of zero emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in these communities.

A recent study found that electrifying medium- and heavy-duty vehicles nationwide by 2040 could bring up to $485 billion in health and environmental benefits due to pollution reductions. “Joining with other states to tackle pollution form these larger vehicles is good for our economy, good for our health, and good for our communities,” said Pollard. Last week/Two weeks ago, the State Air Pollution Control Board officially adopted clean car standards for light-duty vehicles, as required by legislation passed by the General Assembly earlier this year.

We’re helping to accelerate clean transportation in Virginia.