Clearing the Air

Clearing the Air

May 31, 2019 —Governing

On a sun-splashed stretch of asphalt along the Los Angeles waterfront, officials from the busiest port complex in the United States recently offered a glimpse of their hopes for the future: a new generation of 18-wheel trucks that can carry cargo from ports to warehouses throughout Southern California while emitting nothing but water. The experimental vehicles use hydrogen fuel cells developed by Toyota to power heavy-duty trucks built by Kenworth. Their manufacturers say the new trucks, which have a range of 300 miles, can perform as well as their traditional diesel counterparts. Eventually, four companies, including Toyota and UPS, will use 10 of the prototypes to haul cargo from the ports. The oil company Shell will build hydrogen fueling stations for the trucks to use. The trucks are being introduced in California because the state, along with the port authorities in Los Angeles and neighboring Long Beach, has made zero-emission operations a top priority. To support the new fleet of hydrogen fuel-cell trucks, the state agency that sets air pollution regulations is spending $41 million in matching grants that are funded by cap-and-trade fees the state imposes on carbon dioxide pollution.

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