CalChamber Supports Infrastructure Investments for Zero and Low Emission Vehicles; Implores Legislature to Ensure Technology Neutrality and Create a Fuel-Agnostic Transportation Funding Plan

Yesterday, the California Chamber of Commerce issued its recommendation that the California Legislature re-authorize the Clean Transportation Program and ensure a level playing field for all zero emission technologies in order to advance our climate goals.

If our state is to succeed in rolling out zero emission vehicles without greatly impacting how Californians do business and move goods across the state, it must focus on infrastructure investments that work for all of California. Mandating supply and demand without sufficient infrastructure will only cause delays in shipping and frustration at fueling stations.

Governor Newsom’s  Executive Order N-79-20 sets ambitious goals of 100% zero emission vehicles by 2035 for passenger vehicles and drayage trucks and by 2045 for all trucks and buses where feasible. In addition, the Air Resources Board has instituted rulemaking to require zero emission ride hailing and zero emission off-road equipment.

To make these goals work, California must ensure sufficient infrastructure is in place as well as take steps to ensure that our energy grid is prepared to meet this demand. CalChamber supports this approach, despite being funded by a fee on businesses, because we believe that the Clean Transportation Program has and will continue to help spur existing and future zero and low emission infrastructure innovation. The California Energy Commission, which implements the Clean Transportation Program, must continue to ensure that all technology, including battery electric, hydrogen fuel cell, and low emission infrastructure such as natural gas and biofuels continue to meet the pace of market development. To ensure market acceptance, individual and commercial customers who made early investments in these vehicles must not face a shortage of available fueling or charging options.

California should also continue to fund investments in incentive programs, including the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, which was not funded in the Governor’s January budget proposal. This program has awarded 65,949 rebates to low-and moderate-income Californians and those living in disadvantaged communities over the last four years and has funded the purchase of over 400,000 zero emission vehicles.

Commercial zero and low emission vehicles remain substantially more expensive than their conventional fueled counterparts. Because of this, California must also continue to fund its commercial vehicle incentive programs, including the Hybrid and Zero Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Program (HVIP), which provides point of sale discounts to fleets; the Carl Moyer Program, which provides incremental funding for early adopters to purchase cleaner than required vehicles and for local infrastructure improvement projects;  the Farmer Program, which provides funding for agricultural zero emission utility terrain vehicles (UTVs), low NOx heavy duty trucks, off-road equipment, and demonstration projects; and the Clean Off-Road Equipment Voucher Incentive Project.

Finally, California must consider impacts to transportation and infrastructure funding. CalChamber supported SB 1 (Beall, 2017), which increased the fuel tax to fund infrastructure and road repairs. The Legislature and the Governor should advance the conversation around creation of a fuel tax replacement for road maintenance and repairs as demand for gasoline and diesel decrease. In this manner, we can ensure that the roll out of zero emission vehicles does not impact transportation budgets.

Leah Silverthorn, Senior Policy Advocate