US announces multi-billion net zero investment scheme

US vice president Kamala Harris has announced a series of federal actions that are designed to drive the country’s sustainability agenda.

Under the plans the Biden-Harris Administration said it will “modernise public transit that connects people to their jobs, school, health care, and loved ones, freight trucks and ports that move goods through the American economy”.

“Heavy-duty vehicles, like buses and trucks, make up nearly one-quarter of all US transportation greenhouse gas emissions, and heavy-duty vehicles are the largest contributor of nitrogen oxides (NOx), air pollution that is known to cause asthma, heart and lung disease, and other serious respiratory issues,” Harris said. “Neighbourhoods near highways, ports, and other congested areas are especially impacted by health problems and premature deaths associated with dirty diesel exhaust. These burdens disproportionately impact people of colour and low-income households.

“To seize new economic opportunities and address these environmental injustices and climate concerns, while expanding public transit and ensuring efficient delivery of goods, the Administration is announcing a fleet of new and expanded actions to advance clean heavy-duty vehicles, as part of our electric, zero-emissions transportation future.”

These include:

  • Cleaner, More Convenient Public Transit: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law represents the single largest investment in US public transit in history. As part of a $5.5 billion expansion of the Low- and No-Emission Transit Vehicle Program, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a $1.1 billion in funding for 2022 and an additional $372 million under the Bus and Bus Facilities program. The Low-No Program will help state and local governments purchase US-built electric transit buses and other cleaner models, to improve local air quality and expand affordable, accessible, transportation options in communities across the country.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing a proposed rule that would, if finalised, “dramatically” reduce harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from heavy-duty vehicles and set stronger greenhouse gas emissions standards for certain heavy-duty vehicle categories.
  • Electrifying School Buses: The Environmental Protection Agency is creating a $17 million scheme to fund electric zero-emission and low-emission school buses.
  • Lower Emissions from Ports: The Department of Transportation is using new project eligibilities in the Port Infrastructure Development Program, to advance clean port equipment like electric vehicle charging infrastructure for drayage trucks, cargo equipment, and harbour craft.
  • Innovation on Clean Trucks of the Future: The Department of Energy is partnering with industry to expand zero-emission truck technology through its SuperTruck 3 Program, with the latest round of $127 million in funding focused for the first time on reducing costs and improving durability in hydrogen and battery electric trucks.
  • Leading by Example: The General Services Administration is doubling the amount of zero-emission medium and heavy-duty vehicle models available to federal agencies, charging towards 100% zero emission vehicle acquisitions by 2035.

“To accelerate our transition to clean public transit, over $5.5 billion is being infused into the Department of Transportation’s Low- and No-Emission Transit Vehicle Program through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, by far the largest ever investment in this program, and ten times larger than the last five years of funding,” explained Harris.

On the country’s port system she added: “The ports on our coasts, rivers, and Great Lakes will need to be transformed to eliminate pollution affecting neighbouring communities, address climate change, and strengthen supply chain resilience. This includes a focus on reducing emissions from heavy-duty road vehicles and rail that play key roles in port operations.”

Harris said the administration was determined to clean up the country’s road haulage system.

“Through major advances in zero-emissions technology, clean trucks are becoming cheaper and more readily available,” she explained. “The National Renewable Energy Lab published a study showing that zero emission electric medium and heavy-duty trucks can reach total-cost-of-driving parity with diesel counterparts for many vehicle types this decade and for all trucks by 2035. As technology continues to improve, and more infrastructure is deployed, more and more clean trucks will become cost-effective. That’s good for business and good for the planet.”

“Heavy-duty vehicles, like buses and trucks, make up nearly one-quarter of all US transportation greenhouse gas emissions, and heavy-duty vehicles are the largest contributor of nitrogen oxides (NOx), air pollution that is known to cause asthma, heart and lung disease, and other serious respiratory issues.”

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