Gov. Ron DeSantis Takes Aim at California’s Zero-Emission Port Truck Mandate

Gov. Ron DeSantis Takes Aim at California’s Zero-Emission Port Truck Mandate

(L) California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks in San Francisco in a file photograph. (Jeff Chiu/AP Photo); (R) Republican presidential candidate and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) speaks in Washington in a file photograph. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Nathan Worcester

Nathan Worcester


Updated: 9/29/2023

Framed by shipping containers and American flags, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke at the Los Angeles Harbor Grain Terminal (L.A. Grain) on Sept. 29 about California’s zero-emissions requirement for drayage trucks, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2024.
Under that rule, new trucks operating at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will have to be zero-emissions vehicles—in particular, battery electric trucks and hydrogen fuel cell trucks.
“If you look at the big rigs, this is not something that is designed to be an electric vehicle,” Mr. DeSantis said. The Florida governor was standing in front of a line of L.A. Grain workers in bright safety vests and, on the far right, was L.A. Grain’s president and CEO, Dwight Robinson.
Mr. Robinson, formerly mayor of Lake Forest, told The Epoch Times his company’s current fleet is “a mixture of liquid natural gas, compressed natural gas, and diesel.”
Those trucks will be grandfathered in under the drayage rule, which was approved by the California Air Resources Board. But Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order on such trucks aims for 100 percent zero-emissions operations by 2035.
“Those trucks barely exist today, and they’re in very small numbers, and the infrastructure is essentially non-existent,” Mr. Robinson said in a short speech before Mr. DeSantis delivered his remarks.
The Florida governor’s Long Beach visit followed the second debate at Simi Valley’s Reagan Presidential Library and came hours ahead of an appearance at the California GOP’s convention in Anaheim.
Mr. DeSantis described California as “basically the petri dish for leftism in this country.”
“Whatever Biden’s doing, he’s a few years behind what they’re doing here in California,” he added, referencing the state’s plan to outlaw diesel-powered heavy-duty trucks by 2036.
Indeed, California’s vision of prohibiting new gas-powered vehicle sales by 2035 has inspired pushback by Congress, in part because 17 other states tie their own standards to California’s.
The Golden State’s leverage means automakers in the U.S. market may have to follow its standards.
In recent testimony before Congress, Joseph Goffman of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was asked by Rep. John Joyce (R-Penn.) if a California ban that extended to its partner states “would be a de facto national policy.”
Mr. Goffman replied that he was “not sure,” adding: “My understanding is historically auto manufacturers have striven to avoid making more than just one national fleet.”
The EPA under the Biden administration has also proven sympathetic to California’s vehicle emissions proposals, granting the state a waiver under the Clean Air Act for its proposed prohibition on new diesel-powered heavy-duty vehicle sales starting in 2036.

Contrasts California with Florida

In Long Beach on Sept. 29, Mr. DeSantis said he had seen many vehicles in his state with California license plates.
“A lot of those folks had been driven, some of it by the COVID insanity that was going on in California, some of it by the education and locking kids out of schools, some of it was the crime and how criminals are not held accountable,” he said.
He also spoke about the Biden administration’s immigration policy, saying “people here in Southern California” have been significantly affected by the flow of illegal immigrants across the border.
Mr. DeSantis drew attention to the Singaporean company Sea-Lead’s new operations out of Jacksonville.
“We’re proud of our ports,” he said.
He also referred to California’s high gas prices, which soared earlier in September.
“People here are really getting socked with that,” Mr. DeSantis said.
The leader of the Sunshine State referenced an upcoming debate he will have with California’s Mr. Newsom. That televised event will take place in Georgia on Nov. 30.
Although the second presidential debate took place in California, the Democrat-run state barely came up in the moderators’ questions, though Fox host Stuart Varney noted that the state’s gas prices are “nearing $6 a gallon.”
Mr. Robinson, the businessman and politician who hosted the event, told The Epoch Times he supports Mr. DeSantis over his Republican rivals because “he’s walked the walk in elected office.”
“He’s an executive of a big state, and he’s doing a fantastic job,” Mr. Robinson added.
Nathan Worcester

Nathan Worcester


Nathan Worcester covers national politics for The Epoch Times and has also focused on energy and the environment. Nathan has written about everything from fusion energy and ESG to Biden's classified documents and international conservative politics. He lives and works in Chicago. Nathan can be reached at

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