Washington State Adopts New Rules to Reduce Polluting Emissions from Cars and Trucks

Decision Means Entire West Coast Now Requires Sales of Zero-Emission Vehicles

Published Nov 30, 2021

OLYMPIA, WA (Nov. 30, 2021)—Washington took significant actions today toward reducing air pollution and planet-heating emissions by adopting rules that will speed the transition to cleaner cars and trucks on the state’s roadways.

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The Department of Ecology approved Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) standards and the Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) rule to help address the harm to the climate and public health caused by fossil-fueled transportation.

By adopting the ZEV program, Washington is expanding its vehicle emission standards by adding new requirements for sales of electric cars in the Evergreen State starting with model year 2025.

“The ZEV program will expand electric vehicle options for consumers in Washington,” said David Reichmuth, senior engineer at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). “With transportation the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and a major contributor to other types of air pollution in Washington, cutting tailpipe emissions will put the state on the road to a cleaner transportation system.”

Washington is now the 14th state to adopt the ZEV program.

The ACT rule requires manufacturers of medium- and heavy-duty trucks to produce an increasing number of zero-emission vehicles for sale in Washington beginning in 2024 to reduce toxic emissions from diesel-powered big rigs, buses and delivery vans.

“Washington has made significant strides towards addressing climate change this year and adopting the ACT rule is another step forward,” said Sam Wilson, UCS senior vehicles analyst. “Diesel exhaust is a potent air pollutant and powering heavy duty trucks and buses with clean electricity will benefit millions of Washingtonians, particularly those living and working close to the state's major transportation corridors.”

UCS-commissioned research shows that while trucks and buses represent just 10 percent of vehicles on Washington’s roads and highways, they are responsible for 30 percent of the state’s global warming emissions, 59 percent of nitrogen oxide and 53 percent of particulate pollution emitted by on-road vehicles.

The ACT rule will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by nearly 47 percent and particulate matter pollution by 43 percent over the next 30 years while saving $1.3 billion in avoided health care costs, according to the independent report by M.J. Bradley & Associates commissioned by UCS and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Washington follows Oregon and California in adopting ACT, meaning it now covers the nation’s entire West Coast. Four other states—Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York—are currently considering taking similar action.

“Washington’s leadership in transitioning away from diesel engines towards cleaner electric options will improve public health and should encourage other states now considering similar actions,” Wilson said.