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WFAE reporter David Boraks explores how the way we live influences climate change and its impact across the Carolinas. You also can read additional national and international climate news.

NC governor's order calls for a faster shift to electric trucks and buses

062020 Trucks on I-77.jpg
David Boraks
/
WFAE
The governor's executive order calls for increasing the sales of electric trucks and buses in North Carolina.

Gov. Roy Cooper issued another climate-related executive order Tuesday, this time pushing to increase the sale of electric trucks and buses in North Carolina. The governor said it would help the state meet its climate goals and create jobs.

Transportation is the largest source of the pollutants that cause global warming — in North Carolina and nationwide. Medium and heavy-duty vehicles like trucks and buses are among the biggest culprits.

Cooper's Executive Order 271 directs state environmental regulators to develop what are known as Advanced Clean Trucks regulations by May 15, 2023. The so-called ACT rules program would require truck and bus makers to increase sales of electric vehicles in the coming decades.

Two years ago, Cooper signed a multi-state agreement that calls for electric trucks and buses to reach 30% of vehicle sales by 2030 and 100% by 2050.

The governor's office said the rules would promote EV sales with "flexibility, through credits, trading and other features." As companies increase sales, that also would lead to more investment in charging and other infrastructure, "while bolstering North Carolina’s competitiveness in seeking billions of dollars in federal funding for clean energy development," the governor's office said.

“North Carolina has demonstrated that by leading the transition to clean energy we can grow our economy and create good-paying jobs while reducing local pollution and confronting the climate crisis,” Cooper said in a press release.

“North Carolina is already a national hub for truck and bus manufacturing and supply chain development, and we should not miss the opportunity to lead the market-driven transition already underway to cleaner and increasingly cheaper zero-emission technologies that benefit our economy and our communities,” he said.

The ACT rules would have to be approved by the state Environmental Management Commission.

If adopted, North Carolina would be the seventh state in the nation and first in the Southeast with such rules.

Executive Order 271 follows a series of related orders by Cooper, beginning with Executive Order 80 in 2018. That set goals and began the state's efforts to address climate change. Other orders since have promoted the adoption of consumer electric vehicles, climate justice, and wind energy.

Environmental and business groups welcomed the order, including the business coalition Ceres.

“As this technology advances and takes greater hold in the economy, the ACT rule will provide a clear pathway for the industry to supply companies with the vehicles they want. North Carolina is again proving itself as a national climate leader by becoming an early adopter of this business-friendly rule,” said Alli Gold Roberts, the senior director of state policy at Ceres.

David Kelly of the Environmental Defense Fund noted that vehicle pollution disproportionately affects low-income communities of color.

"By embracing this policy to grow the market for zero-emission trucks and buses, our governor is taking meaningful steps to improve air quality, particularly in communities overburdened by transportation pollution, while procuring billions in net health and economic benefits for all North Carolinians,” Kelly said in a press release.

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.