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If you are familiar with California, you likely know that the state has special abilities when it comes to regulating cars, trucks, and SUVs. Specifically, the state is allowed to enact stricter environmental rules that are much tougher than federal requirements. And now, it looks like diesel trucks are going to be the next victim to that fact. The EPA and Biden administration have plans to grant California waivers in order to phase out diesel-powered trucks. 

Are diesel trucks illegal in California?

California is working on banning older diesel trucks from its roads. Plans were unveiled for this last year, but it was unclear if the state would actually be able to move forward. Now, it looks like the Biden administration is on-track to approve these stricter regulations. And they could actually impact more than just California residents. 

In CA, heavy-duty trucks account for almost a third of the state’s smog-forming nitrogen oxide. They also put out more than a quarter of its fine particle pollution. These types of things can cause health issues such as asthma. And it looks like the state and climate activists are hoping to put a stop to that. 

The new rules will aim to cut tailpipe pollution and phase out sales of diesel trucks. The end goal? Jump-start the process of transitioning to electric-powered trucks to handle things like shipping and hauling materials. 

Which trucks are impacted?

I don’t want to paint with too broad of a brush, but there are some significant changes thanks to these new rules. According to The Washington Post, stricter pollution limits will be put on things like delivery vans, garbage trucks, and semi-trucks. Starting after the 2024 model year, emissions will need to be cut. 

A group of semi-trucks parked, diesel trucks could be illegal in California soon.
Truck rest stop | Peter Titmuss via Getty Images

For truck makers, there will be new sales requirements that need to be met in California. As time progresses, more and more of the trucks that these companies sell will need to be zero-emission. That target is for all-electric or hydrogen fuel-cell trucks by the year 2045. 

The big question you might have is if these new rules are going to impact regular trucks, like the Ford F-250 or Ram 2500. And the answer is yes. But, those rules have already been enacted. Brands that sell passenger cars and trucks have to switch to nonpolluting models by 2035. 

An electric future is coming

If the Biden administration grants the special waivers to California, it will likely have a ripple effect. Multiple states follow the regulations that CA puts out in terms of the automotive industry. Additionally, it will show if the future of the industry can actually be electric. 

A Nissan Titan XD diesel truck, one that might be illegal in California thanks to the EPA.
Nissan Titan XD diesel | Nissan

Perhaps the biggest issue facing EVs in the States is the public charging infrastructure. And if places like California hope to kill off diesel trucks, that infrastructure is going to need to be much more robust than it is right now. 

Of course, this fight is not over yet. We expect to see plenty of litigation on both sides. When it comes to things like this, complicated is an understatement.

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