Bloomberg proposes national clean-truck voucher program

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg wants to “undo the harms of the Trump administration” by putting back in place higher standards for truck emissions with the goal of electrifying 15% of the heavy-duty fleet by 2030.

That goal is part of the former New York City mayor’s recently unveiled Clean Transportation Plan, which includes a voucher program to incentivize truck owners to trade in older vehicles for those that are pollution-free.

“Mike’s initiatives stand in stark contrast to the ongoing anti-environmental efforts by the Trump administration to block Obama-era gas mileage and pollution standards and remove states’ rights to set stronger standards,” the document states. “Mike will not only reinstate and strengthen those standards but add requirements for automakers to increase the number of electric vehicles they make available to consumers.”

Bloomberg’s clean-truck initiative lacked details on how it would work and how it would be paid for. However, programs offering incentives for truck owners and operators to upgrade their fleets have been successful over the past decade, particularly at ports where lines of idling trucks have raised pollution levels. California, which uses cap-and-trade money to fund its Hybrid and Zero Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project, had to put the program on hold after its $142 million budget for the current year was oversubscribed.

If elected, Bloomberg, who is running fifth nationally for the Democratic nomination according to recent polls, has vowed to reduce diesel pollution from trucks, buses and ports “especially in low-income communities with the worst air pollution,” which will also save truck owners money on fuel, he asserts.

In addition to a clean-truck voucher program, Bloomberg’s plan calls for:

  • Reinstating gas mileage and pollution standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses, tightening those standards, and adding a national zero-emissions standard.
  • Extending and improving tax credits for pollution-free trucks and buses.
  • Reinstating U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules to make sure truck engines meet modern pollution standards when they are retrofitted.
  • Working with states, cities, and ride-share and taxi companies to convert their fleets to electric vehicles as quickly as possible.

Bloomberg also would launch a Zero-Emissions Shipping Hubs program in 15 metro areas, prioritizing low-income areas that have high air pollution levels. “This program will lead cities and states to work with ports and truck and bus fleets, including delivery trucks, to install charging along key routes and electrify ports and vehicle fleets and connect them with electric vehicle and charger manufacturers.”

To support electrification infrastructure, Bloomberg would build a network of charging stations, placed every 50 miles, along the highway system using tax credits and low-cost financing. States and cities would be offered block grants to develop urban charging networks, enabling charging at interstate rest areas while offering incentives to install truck charging at truck stops “especially in priority freight corridors,” according to the plan.