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Assembly Committee Passes Truck Incentives Bill with Amendments

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April 25, 2016

The Assembly Natural Resources Committee passed the California Clean Truck, Bus, and Off-Road Vehicle and Equipment Technology Program (AB 2415) last Monday on an 8–1 vote, after making five amendments.

The bill, which provides incentives from 2018 to 2023 for zero- and near-zero-emission heavy-duty trucks, has moved on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

“Natural gas near-zero-emission heavy-duty engines are the best prospect for significant emissions reductions from the trucking sector over the next decade. Significant incentives are critical to accelerating the deployment of these engines in the trucking sector. AB 2415 seeks to deliver those incentives,” said Coalition board chair Todd Campbell, vice president of public policy and regulatory affairs for Clean Energy Fuels. “The question now is, how much do the new amendments limit the potential impact of this legislation?”

AB 2415, authored by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), originally mandated that the state support the commercial deployment of existing zero- and near-zero-emission heavy-duty truck technologies by spending whichever is greater: $100 million or half of the funds allocated each year for the development of zero- and near-zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty truck technologies. The Natural Resources Committee deleted “$100 million” because of legislators’ concerns that future funding from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund could decrease, but retained a “no less than 50 percent” guarantee.

The committee added the deployment of very-low-emission bus technologies to the bill. Funding will be split, with two-thirds for truck incentives and one-third for bus incentives.

“Buses were added because some key legislators want to ensure that more is done to support transit agencies,” said Campbell. “Buses are a great platform for new low-emission technologies, including near-zero-emission natural gas engines.”

A third amendment gives CARB the authority to increase the minimum percentage of renewable fuel required to receive incentives, if it finds that a higher percentage is commercially feasible and if the state Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission finds that the supply of renewable energy fuel is sufficient.

Finally, the committee added two more requirements to the bill: CARB must limit the amount of incentives awarded for any single vehicle or engine manufacturer to 49 percent of the funds allocated each year. And it must make sure that it awards the incentives competitively to the projects that can achieve the greatest amount of greenhouse gas emissions reductions not already required by state or federal regulations.

“This last amendment is intended to prevent a company from using incentives to comply with a regulation,” noted Campbell.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee will hear AB 2415 in May. The hearing date has not yet been announced.

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