Mayor of Asheville Urges Biden Administration to Finalize Strong Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles

A truck driving on a wet road.
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Seventy-five mayors – including the mayors of Asheville, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Durham and Greensboro in North Carolina – recently sent a letter urging the Biden administration to finalize the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) strongest proposed rule for the GHG Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles – Phase 3 rule (HDV rule).

The HDV rule would accelerate the transition from large internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to heavy-duty electric vehicles (EVs), reducing carbon pollution, improving air quality and increasing national security by ending oil’s monopoly on transportation.

The transition to clean heavy-duty vehicles, like trucks and buses, is already well underway, largely due to the increased funding for electric transit and charging infrastructure included in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). With support from these historic federal programs, school districts are investing in electric school buses, city and state fleets are transitioning to EVs and retail giants are deploying electric freight and delivery trucks nationwide. The Biden administration has the crucial opportunity to maintain this exciting momentum by supporting the EPA’s strongest proposed HDV emissions standard. The 75 mayors supporting the adoption of this rule see its potential to benefit the communities they are responsible for and our nation as a whole, and urge the Biden administration to follow suit.

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“As Mayor of Asheville, I signed on to the mayors’ climate letter,” said Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer. “The City of Asheville has a 100% renewable energy goal for municipal operations by 2030 and to support Buncombe County’s communitywide goal by 2042. The City of Asheville and Buncombe County are just two of the many local governments in North Carolina that have adopted climate goals. These ambitious goals are vital to addressing the climate emergency.”

“Charlotte advocates for clean air which includes using electric transportation,” said Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles. “Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule for the Emissions Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles is something Charlotte supports. The Charlotte area is emerging as a hub for EV manufacturing, headquarters and research. Combined with Charlotte’s strong workforce development program and existing industry capabilities, the region supports electric vehicle production. As Mayor of Charlotte, we passed The Sustainable and Resilient Charlotte by 2050 Resolution. This reflects Charlotte’s dedication to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to zero-carbon sources for city operations by 2030.”

North Carolina’s school districts have seen significant movement toward heavy-duty electrification, courtesy of the EPA Clean School Bus Program. North Carolina school districts received $38.7 million to purchase 174 electric school buses. The EPA’s proposed HDV emissions rule would propel more school districts to invest in electric school buses and ensure that students without access to electric transportation are not subject to high levels of air pollution.

North Carolina also received federal awards to accelerate the transition to electric transportation and reduce air pollution via the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) Grant Program and the Climate Pollution Reduction Grant (CPRG) Program. In January 2024, The City of Durham received $4.8 million to install 20 high-speed charging stations near several major highways, creating a refueling hub for locals and long-haul travelers. Through the CPRG program, North Carolina received $3 million to develop a Priority Climate Action Plan; in initial strategizing for this massive project, North Carolina has identified transportation electrification, including heavy-duty vehicle electrification, as a top priority.

The mayors’ letter follows another letter sent to the White House by over 80 corporate leaders in November, advocating for the same strong standard to be adopted in order to promote economic development, protect American national security and solidify our country’s growing commitment to a clean transportation future.

“From the Blue Ridge mountains to the beaches of Nags Head, North Carolina is ready for new air quality regulations,” said Alex Amoroso, Jr., owner of the North Carolina-based business Cheesecake by Alex. “As a small business owner and an EV driver, I support the proposed reduced emission standards for trucks. We want our kids’ school buses to be electric and our business delivery trucks to have the best air standards possible.”

“Heavy-duty trucks create a disproportionate amount of emissions, particularly in our most marginalized communities, so we must enact the strongest possible emissions standards,” said Electrification Coalition Executive Director Ben Prochazka. “In doing so, we can accelerate freight electrification and finally end oil’s monopoly on freight vehicles. As the world shifts to electric transportation, we cannot fall behind other countries – the time is now. We welcome North Carolina’s local leadership joining this effort to set strong standards, protect public health, and reduce our dependence on oil.”

“We have a historic opportunity to accelerate progress towards decarbonizing our transportation sector by supporting the strongest proposed emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles yet,” said Kate Wright, Climate Mayors’ Executive Director. “We thank the Biden administration for considering our request to help support the heavy-duty vehicle industry in meeting its zero-emissions commitment.”

Read the full letter and recommendations at climatemayors.org.

Written by the Electrification Coalition.