A powerful state regulatory commission Nov. 17 put Oregon in the forefront of climate change efforts by mandating changes to trucking that are expected to cut in half greenhouse gas emissions and tailpipe pollution.

The state Environmental Quality Commission approved the Clean Trucks Rules to require truck manufacturers to boost their production of electric medium- and heavy-duty trucks sold in Oregon, and require new medium- and heavy-duty diesel vehicles sold in Oregon to emit less smog.

Oregon is the second state to adopt such rules, after California.

Ali Mirzakhalili, an air quality administrator at the state Department of Environmental Quality said during the meeting that these are “two of the most significant rules to reduce truck tailpipe emissions in Oregon.”

The DEQ had recommended the commission adopt the rules to advance clean-energy transport and reduce the state’s overall emissions from transportation, noting it is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon.

The truck and engine manufacturing industry has been largely opposed to the rules in Oregon because of the timeline, because it makes Oregon exceptional to standards in most other states, and because of concerns about inadequate facilities for charging electric vehicles. The industry had hoped the state would wait for the federal Environmental Protection Agency to act first on national standards.

DEQ administrators at the meeting disagreed with waiting for federal rules, saying air pollution was an urgent equity issue in the state. They noted that people of color are disproportionately living in areas affected by smog and pollution from truck, bearing a larger share of the health risks.

The Oregon Clean Trucks rules mirror ones adopted in California last year. The rule will take effect in 2024, giving manufacturers and sellers time to adjust. They apply to truck models built in 2025 and after.

The first rule requires up to half of new medium- and heavy-duty trucks, buses and vans sold in Oregon by 2030 have no emissions, and up to 75% of them be electric by 2035. The rule is only for the manufacture of the vehicles, however, they do not require anyone to buy them.

The new standards apply to big trucks, tractor-trailer trucks, buses and vans sold in the state, including everything from a Ford F250 to an Amazon delivery truck. However, transit buses will be exempt from the diesel engine rules and emergency vehicles are exempt.

The second rule requires all new heavy duty diesel vehicles sold in Oregon to meet new emissions standards. They will need to emit 75% less smog than they do now beginning in 2025, and 90% less smog by 2027.

Adopting both rules could cut state greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by 55% in Oregon, according to a report from environmental consulting firm M.J. Bradley & Associates.

Oregon Capital Chronicle, 2021