Massachusetts Offers Opportunities for Stakeholder Engagement to Address Transportation Emissions

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Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation are a major focus of the recently issued Massachusetts 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap (the Roadmap) and the Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan (CECP) for 2030. For further information on the Roadmap and the CECP, see the authors' earlier blog post, "The Road to Net Zero is Paved With Numerous Policy Initiatives" (Jan. 22, 2021).

This post highlights upcoming opportunities for stakeholder engagement related to regulatory initiatives to address transportation emissions, which include Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) stakeholder meetings and a public comment period on the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P) Draft Model Rule.

MassDEP Stakeholder Meetings on MHDV Emissions

The Roadmap notes that medium- and heavy-duty on-road vehicles (MHDV), rail and aviation produce approximately 14 percent of the Commonwealth's GHG emissions, and the CECP outlines strategies for reducing these emissions. MassDEP will hold two virtual public stakeholder meetings on upcoming regulatory initiatives to address MHDV emissions. The meetings will cover the Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding (MHD ZEV MOU) and MassDEP's planned adoption of the California MHDV regulations. The meetings will be held via Zoom on Wednesday, April 28, from 5:00-7:00 p.m., and Thursday, April 29, from 9:30-11:30 a.m.

In July 2020, Massachusetts joined 14 other states and the District of Columbia in signing the MHD ZEV MOU, which sets a goal that 30 percent of all new trucks and buses sold in each signatory jurisdiction will be zero emission vehicles (ZEV) by 2030 and that all such sales will be ZEVs by 2050. The signatories will work together to develop a Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicle Action Plan to provide a framework for achieving these goals and will issue a progress report in 2025. The MHD ZEV MOU emphasizes using the deployment of zero-emission MHDVs to benefit communities historically burdened with higher levels of air pollution and contemplates that each signatory will collaborate with manufacturers, charging and fueling providers, community and environmental advocates, utilities, corporate fleet owners, financial institutions and other stakeholders to accelerate MHDV electrification.

California, a fellow signatory to the MHD ZEV MOU, has approved through its Air Resource Board (CARB) the Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) rule, which requires manufacturers to meet increasing percentages of zero-emission truck sales over time. CARB is also developing Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) regulations with the goal of achieving a zero-emission truck and bus fleet by 2045, starting with more easily electrified market segments such as last-mile delivery. While Massachusetts does not have independent authority to regulate vehicle fuel efficiency, California may promulgate such regulations under a federally granted waiver, and other states may adopt California's standards. Pursuant to M.G.L. 111, § 142K, Massachusetts is required to adopt California's vehicle emissions regulations if they are more stringent than the equivalent federal regulations. The CECP provides that MassDEP will adopt and implement the ZEV purchase mandates of ACT by Dec. 31, 2021, and the ACF rule by the end of the year in which the rule is finalized by California. The upcoming MassDEP stakeholder meetings will cover both the MHD ZEV MOU and MassDEP's planned adoption of the California regulations.

Transportation and Climate Initiative Seeking Public Input on Proposed Model Rule

Also of note, Massachusetts is a signatory to the TCI-P, a multi-state coalition which will create an annually declining cap on transportation emissions. The strategies for addressing transportation emissions included in the CECP include the implementation of the TCI-P. Under the program, regulated entities – including fuel suppliers, terminal operators and distributors – will need to purchase emissions allowances equivalent to their emissions, with resulting revenue to be invested by the Commonwealth into clean transit options. MassDEP is expected to begin implementing the program in 2023 and will also work to develop a regional Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) by no later than 2026, a market-based program to support the deployment of low-carbon substitutes for petroleum-based liquid transportation fuels.

In a Memorandum of Understanding signed by TCI-P jurisdictions in December 2020, the coalition committed to releasing a Model Rule after an opportunity for public comment. The draft Model Rule, which follows years of technical modeling, includes registration and reporting requirements, allowance budgets and scheduled reductions, compliance periods and flexibility mechanisms, allowance auctions and commitments to advance equity for communities historically overburdened by pollution and underserved by the transportation system, among other topics. Once finalized, the draft Model Rule will be adapted for use by each signatory in state-specific rulemaking processes. The TCI-P is seeking public comments on its draft Model Rule by May 7. Comments can be submitted through an online public input portal.

Conclusion

With regulatory strategies to reduce GHG emissions from transportation expected to play an important short-term and long-term role in the Commonwealth's efforts to meet its climate goals, it is likely that there will be additional opportunities for engagement within the coming months and years.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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