It’s Time for Clean Truck Rules in Illinois

A new report finds overwhelming public health and economic benefits from Illinois adopting the Advanced Clean Trucks and Heavy-Duty Omnibus Rules.

Muhammed Patel is a consultant for NRDC and contributing author to this blog.

By adopting two foundational clean truck regulations, Illinois could generate net societal benefits of roughly $26 billion through 2050. So says a new independent analysis by the Environmental Resources Management (ERM) Group evaluating the impact of the Advanced Clean Trucks and Heavy-Duty Omnibus rules on Illinois.

The rules will slash greenhouse gas (GHG), nitrogen oxide (NOx), and particulate matter (PM) emissions in Illinois, resulting in 765 fewer premature deaths, 874 fewer hospital visits from breathing polluted air, and 481,090 fewer cases of acute bronchitis, exacerbated asthma, and other respiratory symptoms causing restricted activity and lost workdays.

The rules would also deliver massive benefits to Illinois’ economy. According to the latest clean energy jobs assessment, Illinois has one of the nation’s largest clean vehicle manufacturing workforces, directly supporting over 10,000 jobs—600 of which were added in 2021. Adopting these rules will support further growth in clean energy jobs in Illinois, adding almost 8,400 new jobs to the state by 2045. The largest number of added jobs are in electrical component manufacturing and charging infrastructure construction, requiring many well-paid electricians and electrical engineers.

Consumers and truck fleet owners will also save. Fuel and maintenance cost savings to fleets from zero-emission trucks amount to roughly $1.2 billion in annual net savings by 2050. Increasing electricity sales for vehicle charging also results in lower electricity rates keeping money in the pockets of all electric utility customers—commercial and residential. Statewide savings could reach $62 million by 2050.

Business and household savings, as well as shifting spending from out-of-state fossil fuels to locally produced electricity, will have a powerful impact on the state’s economy. The time is now for Illinois to join other states in adopting these regulations to provide immediate, life-saving health benefits while stimulating the economy.

Illinois's trucks outsize impact on public health

Transitioning to zero-emission trucks is essential to cleaning up the dirty air affects too many of Illinois’ communities. Fossil fuel-powered trucks emit fine particulate pollution (PM) and smog-forming gases (NOx). These pollutants lead to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases—including asthma, lung cancer, heart attacks, and strokes—and can cause premature death.

Trucks have an outsized impact on Illinois’ air quality. Despite making up only 7% of on-road vehicles, trucks are responsible for 67% of the NOx, 59%of the PM, and 36% of the greenhouse gas emissions from on-road vehicles. This pollution has a direct impact on public health. Communities near places with lots of truck traffic – like warehouses, industrial corridors, and highways – see significantly more tailpipe pollution. Because of historical and ongoing racial discrimination, the people who live, work, go to school, and play in these communities are disproportionately people of color and low-income communities.

Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles' Disproportionate Share of Emissions


Source: ERM Group, Illinois Clean Truck Program, 2022

Due in part to the rise of e-commerce and two-day delivery, truck use will likely continue growing. In the Chicagoland area, e-commerce tenants, such as Walmart and Amazon have leased millions of square feet of warehouse space. These investments will increase the region’s dependence on trucks to deliver consumer goods, leading to more pollution in communities surrounding these warehouses.


Source: Some rights reserved by verchmarco

A study by the Respiratory Health Association found that exhaust from diesel engines in Illinois will lead to more than 5,000 asthma attacks, nearly 200 heart attacks, and 416 premature deaths across the state in 2023. It also revealed that 12 of Illinois’ 102 counties rank in the top 9 percent of all U.S. counties at risk of the health, societal, and economic impacts caused by diesel air pollution, along with the fifth-highest number of deaths from diesel pollution per capita. The deadly and proliferating effect of dirty trucks on Illinois citizens demands action.


Source: Respiratory Health Association, The Dirty Dozen: The Impacts of Diesel Engine Pollution in Illinois, May 2022

Truck rules = zero-emission solutions and less pollution

The Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) and Heavy-Duty Omnibus (HDO) rules work together to slash health-harming air pollution from new fossil fuel trucks while increasing the number of clean, zero-emitting trucks manufacturers have to sell in Illinois. The ACT rule requires manufacturers to sell an increasing number of zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) guaranteeing a minimum number of these clean, cost-saving vehicles are available in Illinois.

ACT Rule's ZEV Requirement by Vehicle Class as % of New Sales

*Due to a two-year leadtime requirement, the first year of compliance is 2026 if adopted in 2022.


Source: California Air Resources Board, Advanced Clean Trucks Rule, Final Regulation Order

Meanwhile, the HDO rule establishes strong yet feasible NOx and PM emission standards for new fossil fuel trucks that will continue to be sold, slashing emissions by up to 90 percent once fully implemented. The HDO rule also establishes testing and warranty requirements to ensure that emission control systems continue working throughout the vehicle’s life.

HDO Rule's Truck NOx Reductions in 2024, 2027 and Beyond


Source: California Air Resources Board, Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Omnibus Regulation and Associated Amendments, Final Regulation Order

Illinois should immediately adopt clean truck rules

Illinois has already begun to pave the way for electric vehicle manufacturing within the state. The ACT and HDO rules will spur the state’s growing electric vehicle manufacturing base, create jobs, protect public health, and lead to greater economic growth.

With federal truck standards currently being developed, adopting tough state rules in 2022 would allow Illinois to influence federal rulemaking. Immediate action to adopt the ACT and HDO rules would establish Illinois as a national leader and allow its communities to benefit from them as soon as possible.

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