Legislature Approves Harckham, Englebright Bill on Zero Emissions for New Vehicles in NY

State Sen. Pete Harckham

Albany, NY – New York is now just the governor’s signature away from a zero-emissions future on its roadways, as legislation (S.2758 / A.4302) from State Senator Pete Harckham and State Assemblyman Steve Englebright requiring all in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks be zero emission by 2035 has been approved by the State Legislature.

The legislation now heads to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for approval. A further stipulation of the bill is that all in-state sales of medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks be zero emissions by 2045. Similar sales of off-road vehicles and power equipment will also be expected to be zero emissions by 2035.

“Requiring vehicles to be entirely free of carbon and other toxic emissions is the best way to ramp up our fight against climate change,” said Harckham, a member of the Senate Committee on Environmental Conservation. “We need to take decisive action right now, and I am heartened that a number of other states have realized this as well. Together, we can make a difference, but it is going to take an all-out initiative to save our planet, and this is how New York and other states can impact the environment.”

“We need to take aggressive action and end carbon pollution to successfully combat the climate crisis,” said Englebright, chair of Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation. “Transitioning to zero-emission vehicles in New York will definitely help reduce the dangerous pollutants that are harming our environment and causing myriad health problems for our residents. Also, building cleaner cars will mean more new manufacturing and service jobs across the country.”

Building on the landmark New York Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) passed in 2019, the new legislation is similar to recent mandates issued in California regarding zero emission vehicles to fight air pollution and increased production of greenhouse gases. To date, only California has adopted a zero emission law for vehicles. The new laws are causing automakers to ramp up development of fully electric and hybrid-powered vehicles.

“Thanks to the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York envisions a not-too-distant future where electric vehicles dominate our roads,” said Sen. Todd Kaminsky, chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. “The challenge of transforming our transportation sector is imperative to combating climate change—and this bill is exactly the bold, aggressive and necessary action required to help us meet those goals, reduce our carbon footprint and ultimately save our planet.”

New York’s CLCPA contains climate targets that are among the most stringent nationally. To reach the goal of 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, it is necessary to aggressively pursue bench marks that will reduce emissions from personal motor vehicles. Personal transportation accounts for roughly 20% of American’s greenhouse gas emissions. By eliminating this as a source of emissions, New York will be one step closer to meeting its climate change goals.

Harckham and Englebright added that they hoped the change-over in-state sales to zero-emission vehicles could take place sooner than 2035. The ambitious legislation, which will amend state environmental law, targets 2045 for when total fleet transitions for zero emission trucks and buses should take place.

To encourage the meeting of the zero-emission requirement, the legislation specifies that CLCPA’s Climate Action Council and various state agencies, including the Public Service Commission, accelerate the development of affordable fueling and charging options for zero emission vehicles, with a focus on ensuring access in low-income and economically disadvantaged communities.