PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are announcing today that Rhode Island has released an Action Plan with 18 other US and Canadian jurisdictions aimed at fighting rising diesel exhaust pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by accelerating the transition to zero-emission trucks, vans, and buses. The Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Action Plan, facilitated by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), helps reaffirm Rhode Island’s commitment to reducing GHG emissions and moving toward a clean, low-carbon transportation sector. Under the 2021 Act on Climate, Rhode Island is required to reduce its overall GHG emissions by 45% by 2030 and 90% by 2040 and to reach net-zero by 2050. The plan provides strategies and recommendations for the state to consider reducing air pollution from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Since 2017, DEM has used Environmental Protection Agency funding to replace about 40 on-road diesel vehicles in Rhode Island.
“We are excited about this regional opportunity for Rhode Island because of its helpful impacts on climate change and public health,” said Governor Dan McKee. “Reducing diesel emissions while increasing the number of zero emission vehicles on our roads will reduce total greenhouse gas emissions and result in cleaner air for everyone, but especially vulnerable communities along the urban corridor that are disproportionately affected by dirty air. Meeting Rhode Island’s mandates pursuant to the Act on Climate requires solutions on both a regional and local scale, and this initiative will help us meet our mandates. Congratulations to Director Gray and the leadership at DEM for their outstanding work.”
“Deadly air pollution, caused by tailpipe emissions and other sources, contributes to tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of illnesses nationally every year,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “These health impacts disproportionately burden communities of color. Even when factors like region and income level are considered, communities of color breathe more air pollution than white people. The US Supreme Court’s recent West Virginia v. EPA decision solidified that states can and must accomplish much more to fight climate change by working together than any single state can acting alone. This zero emission vehicle action plan, coordinated by NESCAUM, is an example of inclusive and deliberative regional policymaking.”
The NESCAUM coalition, which includes 17 states and the District of Columbia, collectively represent 43% of the population and nearly half of the economy of the United States, and 36% of the nation’s medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Informed by extensive engagement with a broad range of partners and stakeholders, the action plan includes more than 65 strategies and recommendations for policymakers to consider to rapidly and equitably accelerate electric truck and bus adoption, including vehicle sales and purchase requirements like the advanced clean trucks regulation, vehicle and infrastructure purchase incentives, utility investment in charging infrastructure, innovative financing mechanisms, workforce development programs, and deployment of public charging in communities and along travel corridors.
DEM maintains an inventory of GHG emissions in Rhode Island in accordance with the state’s 2021 Act on Climate. The Act on Climate Law established guidelines for more aggressive emission reduction policies and calls for a net-zero Rhode Island by 2050. It also amends the 2014 Resilient Rhode Island Act by providing updated and enforceable timelines for emissions standards, as well as emphasizing transparency and accountability. The GHG emissions inventory is important for assessing progress related to reducing GHG emissions in our state. Additionally, an accurate GHG emissions inventory can inform policy makers to meet climate goals. Governor McKee’s 2023 budget enacted more than $150 million in investments to meet the urgent mandates codified in the Act on Climate.
The plan highlights the economic and job opportunities associated with medium- and heavy-duty ZEV market growth and the benefits of multi-state collaboration. Investments in ZEV technology cascade throughout the economy, creating jobs for thousands of assemblers, machinists, electrical technicians, civil construction workers, and high-skill occupations in design and engineering over the life of each vehicle. The plan recommends partnerships with the trucking industry, community groups, labor groups, educational institutions, and others to develop workforce training and re-training programs, and identifies key labor issues affecting workers.
It also places a sharp focus on the need for a just and equitable transition for overburdened and underserved communities and workers. Engagement with national equity and environmental justice organizations and community-based groups in the participating jurisdictions helped to scope and shape the plan, including its recommendations for community engagement, implementing community air monitoring programs, and supporting health and economic equity for community residents and workers. The plan emphasizes the need for a “whole-of-government” approach across government agencies to ensure that transportation electrification policies deliver benefits where they are needed most.