SPRINGFIELD, IL – Today, the House Transportation Committee passed a resolution urging Gov. JB Pritzker to sign Illinois onto a multi-state memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by 15 states and Washington DC to support truck electrification and eliminate toxic air pollution from medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses by 2050.
Sponsored by Representative Edgar Gonzalez, Jr., House Resolution 293 calls on Illinois to join the MOU, which sets a target to achieve 30 percent of new truck and bus sales to be zero-emission by 2030, and 100 percent zero-emission by 2050. Signing on to this MOU would make Illinois the first Midwest state to do so and, given Illinois’ position as a national crossroads for freight traffic with the fourth largest highway system in the nation, this would present a significant signal to the rest of the nation.
This position as a transportation hub comes with costs. Many Illinois communities that host intermodal stations, warehousing, and other industrial facilities experience high levels of truck traffic. Currently, these medium- and heavy-duty vehicles use loud diesel engines that emit high levels of pollution, quickly wear down roads, and contribute to traffic congestion.
“Black and Brown communities in Illinois – like the one I represent – are overburdened by transportation pollution,” said Rep. Edgar Gonzalez, Jr. “Signing onto this MOU and developing a state action plan that is shaped by communities is an important step towards transitioning to a pollution-free medium- and heavy-duty sector.”
Signing onto the MOU would initiate a public process to solicit input from residents and stakeholders, including environmental organizations, labor, and environmental justice groups, on the development of any Illinois requirements.
“Anyone who lives near a freight corridor, port, or distribution center is familiar with the pollution and public health harms caused by diesel engines,” said Little Village Environmental Justice Organization Executive Director Kimberly Wasserman. “This resolution marks an important first step in making sure that the communities who are most affected by these issues are the first to see deployment of zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses.”
Some of the policies under consideration of the MOU would focus on further leveraging environmental and air quality benefits associated with adoption of the California Advanced Clean Trucks rule, as well as zero emission public transit and public fleet deployment. In addition, utilities must coordinate with fleets and local agencies to ensure beneficial site planning, rate structures and investment in “make-ready” charging infrastructure.
“As warehousing expands, growing diesel truck traffic drives dangerous air pollution levels higher in communities around Illinois,” said Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Health Programs at Respiratory Health Association. “With two-thirds of Illinois residents already breathing unhealthy air, legislators and the Governor need to act and accelerate the transition to zero-emission trucks to keep deadly diesel exhaust out of people’s lungs.”
Illinois is also home to electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing companies such as Rivian, Volvo, Navistar, and the recently announced Lion Electric Company factory in Joliet, as well as many other businesses involved in the EV supply chain. Moving forward with a zero-emission vehicle goal will further spur the manufacture of zero-emission vehicles, making Illinois a leader in the quickly growing industry and bringing needed economic development and jobs to the state.
“Rivian applauds Rep. Gonzalez in offering this resolution seeking to commit Illinois to the Multi-State Medium-Heavy Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding,” said Chris Nevers, Senior Director of Environmental Policy at Rivian. “Illinois is well positioned to be the first state in the Midwest not only to commit to the MOU, but to demonstrate leadership in environmental responsibility and advanced manufacturing, which will have major benefits to the state’s economy and promote future job growth.”
“Illinois is establishing itself as a national leader in the manufacturing of medium- and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles,” said Lion Electric CEO and Founder, Marc Bedard. “Governor Pritzker’s administration has been a fantastic partner in working with Lion to select Joliet, Ill., for our upcoming U.S. manufacturing facility. The Governor’s participation in the Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding would further solidify the state’s ongoing commitment to clean transportation and pave the way for thousands more clean energy and manufacturing jobs in the state, paying dividends for decades to come.”
“Businesses of all sizes are making the switch to electric vehicles to capture the long-term cost-saving, climate, and public health benefits,” said Alli Gold Roberts, director of state policy at the sustainability nonprofit Ceres. “To speed up this transition at the pace and scale the climate crisis demands, we need policies and regulations that accelerate efforts to electrify commercial vehicles. More than 50 major businesses and institutions agree and have signalled their support of the MOU. Ceres urges Governor Pritzker to heed their call by acting swiftly to join the MOU.”
Senator Celina Villanueva is sponsoring a companion resolution, SR296, in the Illinois Senate.
The following list of organizations have signed on in support of Illinois joining the Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle MOU: Active Transportation Alliance; Center for Neighborhood Technology; Ceres; Chicago for Electric Vehicles; Climate Reality Project, Chicago Chapter; Earthjustice; Electrification Coalition; Environmental Defenders of McHenry County; Environmental Defense Fund; Environmental Law & Policy Center; Illinois Environmental Council; Respiratory Health Association; Little Village Environmental Justice Organization; Metropolitan Planning Council; Physicians for Social Responsibility; The Nature Conservancy in Illinois Natural Resources Defense Council; Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter; Union of Concerned Scientists; and Warehouse Workers for Justice