The Hill: Senate Democrats call on Biden administration to do more to bolster truck electrification 

By Rachel Frazin

A group of Democratic senators is calling on the Biden administration to do more to address pollution from heavy-duty vehicles, particularly as it deploys electric vehicle infrastructure.

In a new letter to the departments of Energy and Transportation, 15 Democrats praised efforts to build out infrastructure for electric passenger cars but said more should be done to bolster electric trucks and buses.

“We cannot … afford to focus exclusively on light-duty vehicles, as heavy-duty vehicles disproportionately contribute to poor air quality in communities along roadways and near goods movement facilities, such as ports and warehouses,” the group, which was led by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), said in the letter.

The lawmakers also pointed to large vehicles’ contributions to planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions and other health-harming pollution.

“Despite comprising only 10 percent of the vehicles on the road, heavy-duty vehicles are responsible for 28 percent of the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, 45 percent of its nitrogen oxide emissions, and 57 percent of its particulate matter emissions,” they wrote.

Specifically, the Democrats called on the departments to create a “national vision” for deploying heavy-duty electric vehicle infrastructure and use its existing loan and funding authorities to bolster infrastructure for electric trucks and buses.

The letter, sent Thursday and first shared with The Hill, comes alongside similar asks by environmental groups.

A Thursday letter from groups including the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters and Evergreen Action similarly calls for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program and Loan Programs Office to support truck charging.

In response, a spokesperson for the Energy Department told The Hill the administration “is working to create a future where everyone can ride and drive electric — this includes medium- and heavy-duty … riders and drivers.”

The spokesperson said the administration is “actively working” on planning and deploying charging infrastructure, including through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program.

The environmental activist letter goes further than the senators’ letter, also calling on the administration to strengthen proposed standards out of the EPA that would reduce trucks’ carbon emissions.

The environmental activists wrote that the proposal is projected to “result in companies choosing to electrify barely more than a third of new trucks sold by the mid-2030s and flat-line there.”

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