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Oregon Joins Other Western States With Electric Truck Rules

A new clean trucking rule to require the sale of medium and heavy-duty zero-emission trucks in Oregon serves as one more piece of state public policy to nudge the trucking industry more securely toward an electric future.

A digital rendering of an electric truck at a charging station.
The trucking and delivery sector on the West Coast is moving firmly in the direction of electrification, with Oregon being the latest western state to adopt new clean trucking rules.

The state’s Environmental Quality Commission approved the Oregon Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) rules last month, joining California and Washington in the move toward electrifying the trucking sector.

As part of the new policy, Oregon will require zero-emission vehicles to make up a certain share of sales of new medium and heavy-duty vehicles in the state by 2025.

State actions like these help to grow the electric heavy-duty vehicle market, said Sam Wilson, senior vehicles analyst with the Clean Transportation Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Oregon’s market share for trucks covered under the ACT is similar to states like Massachusetts, New Jersey, South Carolina and Washington — all states with significant port and trucking operations,” said Wilson. “Although Oregon doesn’t have major port operations, Oregon roads and highways, specifically I-5, are significant corridors for transporting goods among western states, with around one-third of Oregon’s long-haul activity coming from other states.”

As more states adopt EV trucking and delivery rules, the states and vehicle-makers sitting on the sidelines could be encouraged to move forward with their own policies, said Patricio Portillo, a transportation analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Now you can plan and make strategic investments today so that not only are you ready for those vehicles, but you can reap the benefits from them as well. It’s really going to move a lot of that private-sector, and some public-sector, money from the sidelines, into the market,” said Portillo.

“All of these states, they’re all sort of watching each other from the corner of their eyes, to see what they’re doing. They all want to be leaders,” he added.

And humming in the background is the new infrastructure law, which will send billions of dollars toward the growth of electric vehicle adoption in the form of new charging infrastructure and other measures such as transitioning the nation’s nearly 500,000 schools buses to zero-emission vehicles.

“It will accelerate that transition that’s already moving forward,” said Portillo.

California adopted its Advanced Clean Trucks Regulation in 2020. The transition toward electric technology will initially be gradual, but by 2045, all trucks sold in the state are set to be zero emission, coinciding with the state's goal of reaching carbon neutrality.

And just last month the Washington Department of Ecology approved a clean trucking rule similar to California’s.

The language in the Oregon policy doesn’t address the issue of charging, or require new charging infrastructure in the state. However, market forces will likely encourage the build-out of more high-speed charging, said Wilson.

“But more EV trucks on the road means more demand for charging, and Oregon agencies and utilities have been planning for this for a number of years,” said Wilson. “As the ACT rolls out, I expect that depot and overnight charging will grow fastest, followed by in-route charging for long-haul trips.”
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.