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New California law lets NGVs, other AFVs match diesel trucks’ cargo capacity

California Gov. Jerry Brown into law AB 2061, a bill that allows ultraclean heavy-duty trucks to exceed California’s weight limits by as much as 2,000 pounds, accommodating the extra weight of natural gas and other clean truck fuel systems.

Authored by Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay), AB 2061 allows near-zero-emission or zero-emission vehicles to weigh up to 82,000 pounds. Effective 1 January, the law erases an economic advantage for diesel trucks: to comply with the state’s current weight limits, clean truck operators have had to cut their carrying capacity, which effectively punishes fleets for emitting fewer pollutants.

This law makes it easier for fleets to adopt all types of alternative fuel technologies, and it recognizes the importance of near-zero heavy-duty NGVs to California’s long-term transportation strategy.

Allowing NGVs to carry the same weight of goods will cut down on NGV truck trips, reducing emissions even further. It also eliminates a disincentive to switch from diesel to natural gas.

—Thomas Lawson, president of the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition

The Coalition sponsored the bill along with CALSTART and the San Diego County Disposal Association.

The legislation mirrors the federal Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015, which modified truck size and weight provisions to compensate for the heavier fuel and tank systems of NGVs. The FAST Act applies only to federal interstate highways; it allows each state to decide whether to increase its limits.

AB 2061 passed the state Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support: 76-0 in the Assembly and 37-1 in the Senate; 60 companies and organizations urged Brown to sign it.

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