While commuters have noted a decrease in congestion, cargo or heavy truck volumes have remained steady and have actually increased at points during the pandemic. This is of no surprise to residents living next to heavily trafficked truck corridors such as Portland’s Cully neighborhood, whose community organizations such as Verde and Living Cully have been organizing and advocating for community benefits such as air quality improvement. This increase in the amount of cargo trucks driving through our neighborhoods, exposes our communities to more toxic diesel pollution being spewed into our air, neighborhoods and atmosphere.
This is why our state needs to prioritize every tool to clean up the delivery trucks, transit and school buses, big rigs and other vehicles that make up the medium and heavy duty transportation sector. Getting zero-emission trucks on the road is a public health imperative and has been a decades-long priority of environmental justice advocates. Replacing dirty diesel-powered trucks with their zero-emission counterparts can clean the air we breathe, reduce climate emissions, and create green jobs.
Thankfully, there is a near-term opportunity for Oregon to leap forward toward a zero emission truck future. In June 2020, the California Air Resources Board unanimously passed the Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) Rule, the nation’s first electric truck sale standard. CA’s ACT rule would not have been possible without the hard work of California organizations representing environmental justice, health organizations, labor, and environmental groups, coalescing for stringent regulations and meaningful targets to deliver clean air, reductions in climate pollution, improved labor standards and new jobs for pollution-burdened communities and communities throughout California.
We must take advantage of this moment to begin electrifying medium and heavy duty trucks and continue fighting for diesel pollution regulations. Through these goals we will secure the air quality improvements our communities seek, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions all while ensuring a green and just economic recovery.
Vee works on developing a strategic and equitable transportation agenda for electrification, lower carbon fuels, and a reduced need to drive, seeking to build a powerful, networked coalition of leaders and partners to urge action at multiple levels of government. Prior to joining Climate Solutions, she was an Environmental Equity Fellow at the Greenlining Institute and the Transportation Equity Associate at Center for Sustainable Energy. In those capacities she worked on programs and policies to deliver equitable climate benefits to low-income and communities of color. Vee graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Masters in International Relations and Environmental Policy and from the University of California, Irvine with a Bachelors in Anthropology and International Relations. In her free time, Vee enjoys wandering through forests, traveling, dinner partying and educating herself on ways to create and demand for a more just and sustainable society.