As MMTA members already know, we have been heavily engaged with Maine’s climate initiatives, especially those impacting our industry. We serve on the Transportation Working Group of the Maine Climate Council, we were part of the group leading the charge to oppose Maine’s adoption of the California Advanced Clean Trucks rule and we have been active participants with a sub-group of interested Medium & Heavy Duty (MHDV) truck parties. Not to re-litigate the issues, but our industry’s concerns have been clear and consistent – the push to electrify heavy duty trucks has some significant timing, technology, economic, grid and infrastructure problems that are unrealistic to overcome in the short term.
We are happy to report that, after a meeting yesterday (8/3/22) with high-level state officials and other MHDV interested parties, there appears to be a welcome and appreciated shift in the approach:
- There was an acknowledgement that there will be no plans to re-introduce the CA Advanced Clean Truck Rule this year and, if the Maine DEP does introduce it in the future, they have committed to getting input from industry first.
- They acknowledged a desire to find ways to implement incentives and identify these incentives as soon as possible. We took the opportunity to reiterate our position that we preferred voluntary adoption (more apt to happen with incentives) and would oppose mandates like what the CA ACT does with manufacturers… and now fleets.
- They want to put forward policies that pursue solutions for MHDV vehicles/applications that are viable first. In other words, they are listening to us that MHDV electrification might work for van delivery vehicles, refuse and transit sooner because the technology exists for these applications now – plus, these fleets typically are local/regional and are garaged in the same place every night. We agree that hydrogen and/or electrification is the future of transportation, but that the supply chain logistics and availability (not to mention cost) of Class 8 trucks used in OTR operations, logging, construction, etc. in the near term is not realistic.
- There is a recognition that things are moving fast for electrification of cars because that market is much more mature than the MHDV market. So as the state plans for and builds out charging infrastructure for personal vehicles, they will keep in mind the future of MHDV electrification as they make strategic investments.
- Expanding biodiesel as one of the possible carbon-reduction strategies has been considered and explored, but capacity and quality remain the primary barriers according to the state.
With this positive development, we have made a few commitments to show that the trucking industry wants to be part of the carbon reduction solution. We will need each and every MMTA member to let us know if they have any desire to consider alternative fuels and/or future electrification. That’s not to say you have to commit to electrifying your entire fleet, only that if you are interested in the concept, that you will help us gather information – when/how it might work for your particular needs, where the grid needs to be upgraded, the premium you might be willing to pay for an electric or hydrogen truck, etc. Please contact Brian if you are so inclined and, if we don’t hear from you, you will likely hear from us.
To wrap this up, we hope you get the sense that this could be a very positive development and it is likely to signal a significant change in the way MMTA approaches climate issues impacting our industry. We can’t help but walk away from yesterday’s meeting feeling like we are transitioning to a framework that is more like a partnership with the state to find solutions instead of being just another regulated industry getting mandates forced upon us, requiring us to react accordingly which only delays real progress. While all of this is trending in a positive direction, we will continue to monitor and advocate for realistic and practical solutions to climate change as technology and infrastructure developments make such solutions viable.