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Biden Delivers Road Map to Electrify Long-Haul Trucking Routes

(Bloomberg) —

The Biden administration is rolling out its plan for deploying electric vehicle charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure on the nation’s freight corridors — part of a bid to decarbonize US supply chains and accelerate the adoption of emission-free big rigs. 

The road map released Tuesday is designed to focus what could be billions of dollars of public spending along key roadways and to catalyze private investment in the new infrastructure, which is critical to cleaning up diesel pollution from medium- and heavy-duty trucking. 

Officials want to speed the adoption of zero-emission 18-wheelers and other trucks used to haul goods across the country by helping ensure the vehicles have an efficient, reliable network of chargers. That, in turn, could help shave companies’ fuel costs while cleaning up the air around some of the most heavily trafficked highways, said White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi. 

“This is a big move to deliver environmental justice; 75% of heavy truck traffic travels on just 4% of our nation’s roads, jeopardizing the health of our most vulnerable communities,” Zaidi said in an emailed statement. 

According to the strategy unveiled by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Energy and Transportation, the ultimate goal is a “ubiquitous and affordable charging and hydrogen refueling network for zero-emission trucks by 2040.”

The plan would help companies meet sustainability targets and winnow Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions tied to transporting goods in the US, where more than 70% of freight is carried by trucks. The transportation sector is responsible for about 29% of US greenhouse gas emissions, with more than a fifth of that coming from medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Yet shipping’s historic reliance on petroleum-based fuels has made reducing those emissions a challenge. 

The move is in response to a growing clamor from truck manufacturers that say more public support is needed for charging stations, grid improvements and other infrastructure to spur the electrification of heavy vehicles.

Across the US, there are just 92 electric charging stations capable of serving heavy trucks, and only nine of them are fast-charging sites, according to Energy Department data.

Though companies are rapidly expanding their EV fleets and their own charging capabilities, the buildout of highway charging infrastructure is essential to wider deployment. Hydrogen fueling stations will also be needed to support the use of hydrogen-powered vehicles that truck makers anticipate hitting the market in the next 18 to 24 months. 

Read More: How Are Corporations Electrifying Their Vehicle Fleets?

The administration would prioritize investments over four phases, singling out the most heavily used freight corridors and ports for initial support. It would also direct investment to states with policies encouraging zero-emission vehicles and areas with significant air pollution.

In total, some 12,000 miles of roadways would be prioritized between 2024 and 2027, including Interstate 80 — which runs east-west across the contiguous US from Teaneck, New Jersey, to San Francisco — as well as other highways cutting through California, Texas and Florida. Roads around key ports such as those in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Long Beach, California, as well as in Houston, New York and Miami, also would be at the front of the line to get clean charging and fueling upgrades.

For a growing trucking industry that’s coming under more pressure from government policies and corporate ESG needs, the plan is welcome, said Patrick Macdonald-King, chief executive officer of Greenlane. The $675 million joint venture established by Daimler Truck North America LLC, NextEra Energy Resources LLC and BlackRock Inc. aims to develop and operate a nationwide charging network for medium- and heavy-duty battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

“This is really important to actually get and help make this a reality,” Macdonald-King said. “Infrastructure is a challenge; transferring over to zero-emission vehicles is a challenge. Having this support to get us there is really critical.”

Biden’s blueprint appears to be “an iterative and thoughtful approach,” said David Fialkov, executive vice president of government affairs for the NATSO and SIGMA trade groups representing truck stops, travel plazas and fuel marketers. “Directing states to adopt a phased approach that prioritizes investments along key freight corridors can harness the existing nationwide network of refueling locations along the interstate highway system and encourage investment,” he said.

The road map is part of a broader Biden administration effort to cut pollution at the nation’s ports and on its highways. The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to soon finalize new emissions caps for cars, trucks and heavy-duty vehicles. Separately on Tuesday, the Transportation Department announced plans to dole out some $450 million in grants to boost port safety, efficiency and reliability. 

To contact the author of this story:
Jennifer A Dlouhy in Washington at

© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.


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