100 zero-emission trucks to be deployed in the Valley

The Valley Air District accepted funds to deploy 100 zero-emission class 8 trucks at facilities in Tracy and Fresno

SACRAMENTO – Tulare County’s air may benefit from action taken by the Valley Air District to accept funding to deploy 100 zero-emission battery electric Class 8 trucks and install supporting fast-charging infrastructure in the Valley.

The Valley Air District took action Feb. 21 to accept over $36.5 million in California Energy Commission (CEC) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) funding to deploy the trucks and build the technology needed to keep them charged. They will be deployed at an Albertsons distribution center in Tracy and a Pepsi manufacturing facility in South-Central Fresno. Pepsi, who reduced their Modesto fleet’s emissions by 53% by utilizing zero and near-zero emission technology in 2020, is also an investor in the plans. 

“With these funds and matching investments by the Pepsi Beverage Company and other local partners, we are bringing innovative zero-emission truck technology to the Valley and assisting this important sector of the economy in transitioning to cleaner equipment,” stated Buddy Mendes, Valley Air District Governing Board Member and Fresno County Supervisor.  

Clean air technologies, with a focus on mobile sources, have been a priority of the Valley Air District. Mobile sources are the largest cause of toxic particulate matter emissions in the Valley, and are primarily under state and federal jurisdiction. 

A climate change assessment released by researchers from UC Merced in January highlighted how the Central Valley bears the brunt of many major environmental warming impacts, including exceptionally poor air quality. The region’s bowl-shaped geography tends to trap particulate matter in the air, which then hovers at ground level until the rain washes it out. Inhaling particulate matter over long periods of time can cause health concerns like asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. Populations here, often predominantly low-income Hispanic and Latino communities, are more likely to experience health concerns and an overall lower quality of life due to poor air quality and other effects of climate change. 

“The air quality challenges that communities in the San Joaquin Valley face are unmatched by any other region in the nation,” said Dr. Tania Pacheco-Werner, co-director of the Central Valley Health Policy Institute and Valley Air District board member. 

Tulare County is no exception. The American Lung Association’s 2021 “State of the Air” report ranked the county as third on the list of areas with the highest levels of airborne particulate matter in the nation. 

The report from UC Merced states that the adoption of carbon-neutral technologies like zero-emission vehicles will help contribute to better air quality throughout the Valley. 

“Transitioning to zero-emission and near-zero technology in the mobile source sector will help reduce ozone and PM2.5 forming nitrogen oxide emissions, as well as toxic diesel particulate matter,” said Pacheco-Werner. “Every truck that is cleaner on the road has a healthy effect for Central Valley communities.”

The program is funded with a combination of CARB Low Carbon Transportation (Cap and Trade) Funding and CEC Clean Transportation Program funds. The trucks are expected to be deployed by mid-2023.

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