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California governor proposes $1.5B for clean transportation

Allocation comes amid questions about state’s landmark cap and trade program, a key funding source for clean truck demonstration projects

(Photo credit: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has released his proposed 2021-22 budget, calling for $1.5 billion to be invested in clean trucks, buses and cars, as well as infrastructure to fuel those vehicles. 

This proposal, announced last Friday, follows the governor’s September Executive Order committing the state to transition away from gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

Specifically, that directive called for 100% of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks to be zero emission by 2035. Fully 100% of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles would be electric by 2045, and drayage trucks would need to meet that same standard by 2035.

Line items

Among the proposed transportation budget line items is $50 million to green state infrastructure, allocating general funds to pay for zero-emission vehicle charging stations at state-owned facilities.

The budget would also direct $465 million in cap and trade funds to improve access to new and used zero-emission vehicles, including medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, and off-road equipment. 

Additional funds would go to heavy-duty vehicles programs such as the Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project and the Clean Off-Road Equipment Voucher Incentive Project.

Changing of the guard

The release of the clean-transportation budget comes amid a changing of the guard in California’s clean air leadership and growing concern about a key source of funding for clean-truck programs.

A new chair has taken the reins at the California Air Resources Board, the state’s clean air regulator, and along with several new board members is expected to bring new scrutiny to equity impacts of state clean air programs. 

Notably, critics claim the landmark cap and trade initiative essentially gives some companies a free pass to emit pollutants, disproportionately impacting low-income and minority communities.

In the meantime, with the deadline for implementing the states’ electric truck sales mandate three years away, California policymakers also are working on a fleet purchasing requirement that would complement the rule.

Newsom’s budget now goes to the state legislature for scrutiny by committees and the public. 

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Linda Baker, Senior Environment and Technology Reporter

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves senior reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes autonomous vehicles, the startup scene, clean trucking, and emissions regulations. Please send tips and story ideas to [email protected]