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Trucking officials say a call for zero-emission trucks by environmental groups is unrealistic

Today’s long-haul battery electric trucks have a range of about 150-330 miles and can take up to 10 hours to charge.

Published: July 13, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

Environmental groups on Thursday called on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to enact clean truck rules, but trucking groups say there is a heavy dose of reality involved.

A group of advocates gathered in Chicago and called on Pritzker to adopt the Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) and Omnibus Low Nitrogen Oxides (LowNOx) rules. They said the safeguards will protect workers and communities from air pollution and improve public health after Illinoisans suffered a series of historically unhealthy air days in June.

“Polluted air is not a one-time disaster, and often it is not blowing in from across our borders, we breathe dirty air everyday, poisoned by diesel trucks that drive through our communities,” said J.C. Kibbey, advocate for the Climate and Clean Energy Program.

Don Schaefer, executive vice president of the Mid-West Truckers Association, said modern trucks run much cleaner than in the past.

“Are we reducing emissions, we’ve reduced emissions by 90% on most diesel trucks over the last 20 years, so there is progress being made,” Schaefer told The Center Square.

The state of California recently made an unprecedented move in their effort to electrify big rigs. New rules would ban sales of new diesel trucks by 2036 and convert large companies’ existing trucks to zero emissions by 2042. A ban on new diesel trucks from railyards and ports is set to begin next year.

Trucking companies said the deadlines will cause “chaos and dysfunction” for California’s economy.

Andrew Boyle from the American Trucking Association told a Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee in April that more thought needs to go into the process of mandating electric semi-trucks.

“In Illinois, a facility teed up 30 trucks for electrification, and the city of Joliet came back and said this is some kind of joke. You’re asking for more draw than the city requires,” said Boyle.

According to the ATA, a clean diesel truck can spend 15 minutes fueling anywhere in the country and then travel about 1,200 miles before fueling again. In contrast, today’s long-haul battery electric trucks have a range of about 150-330 miles and can take up to 10 hours to charge.