Biden Administration Sets National Goal of Zero-Emissions Freight Sector Including Maritime

Antonio Santos
Date: April 26, 2024

On April 24, the Biden administration announced its first-ever national goal to transition the U.S. to a zero-emissions freight sector (i.e., truck, rail, aviation, and maritime), as well as a commitment to develop a national zero-emissions freight strategy. The whole-of-government strategy includes new federal funding, continued engagement with stakeholders on zero-emissions freight infrastructure and forthcoming action plans for each of the freight sectors.

Pacific Environment applauds the Biden administration for its commitment to transition the freight sector in the U.S. to zero emissions. Many thanks goes to the Moving Forward Network for spearheading this effort, as well as to environmental justice groups, frontline communities and all the advocates involved who have engaged with the White House over the past few years on this important issue.

As a key part of the freight ecosystem, the maritime sector must reduce its emissions to protect port workers and port-adjacent communities. Effective technology-forcing regulatory policies, as well as significant funding for the research, design, development and deployment of zero-emission technologies and fuels for marine vessels, port equipment and infrastructure, are needed to fully transition the industry away from the use of fossil fuels to greener solutions. We urge the Biden administration to take additional steps to accelerate federal efforts to decarbonize the maritime sector in the U.S., including issuing an Executive Order that implements concrete and tangible actions to end ship and port pollution. 

Take action today by telling the Biden administration to sign an Executive Order that decarbonizes the marine sector and limits air pollution.

Highlights from the freight sector announcement include:

  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing a nearly $1 billion funding opportunity through the Inflation Reduction Act (the Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicles Grant Program) to replace Class 6 and Class 7 heavy-duty vehicles (e.g., school buses, trash trucks and delivery trucks) with zero-emissions vehicles. At least $400 million will be used to fund projects serving communities located in areas in nonattainment with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
  • The Biden administration held a roundtable discussion on Wednesday at the White House with stakeholders from truck fleets, ports, vehicle manufacturers, state and local governments, utilities, infrastructure providers, environmental organizations, and environmental justice groups focused on accelerating the buildout of the infrastructure necessary to make a zero-emissions freight sector a reality in the U.S. Going forward, future engagements will discuss how to mobilize action towards successfully implementing the National Zero-Emission Freight Corridor Strategy announced by the administration last month.
  • Under the U.S. National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization released by Department of Energy, EPA, Department of Transportation, and Department of Housing and Urban Development in January 2023, the Biden administration is coordinating with each of these agencies to put together a series of decarbonization strategies for each segment of the freight system. The Maritime Decarbonization Action Plan is expected to be released soon.