North Carolina Clean Transportation Study
Analysis of Environmental, Health, and Economic Impacts to Mid-Century
Petrusa, J. E., Fein-Smolinski, B., Brown, E. G., & Nienow, S. (2022). North Carolina Clean Transportation Study: Analysis of Environmental, Health, and Economic Impacts to Mid-Century. RTI International.
As scientific evidence of how climate change is impacting our world becomes more apparent each year, the focus on advancing mitigation and adaptation measures have risen as a top priority in North Carolina. A heightened sense of urgency is building as North Carolinians bear witness to extreme weather hitting our state in the form of increased flooding due to more frequent and intense rainfall and tropical storms, plus droughts and wildfires. As a result, rapid, large-scale efforts are being undertaken to transform our energy systems and transportation services to low-carbon, renewable, and energy efficient sources and technologies which are essential to achieving the deep reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions required to avoid even more severe impacts of climate change.
North Carolina, along with several other states, are already undertaking energy transitions to make dramatic reductions in carbon intensity. Similar transformation of the transportation sector remains uncertain in our state, despite the transportation sector leading the energy sector as the largest source of GHG emissions in North Carolina, as indicated in the state’s most recent emissions inventory (NCDEQ, 2022). The state has a significant opportunity to reduce emissions and meet its carbon goals, all while improving air quality and health by electrifying the transportation sector and shifting to low-NOx-emitting vehicles.
This study analyzes the impacts of North Carolina adopting the Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) and Heavy-Duty Omnibus (HDO) clean transportation policies . These policies apply to medium- and heavy-duty trucks (MHDVs) that California adopted under section 177 of the Clean Air Act. ACT sets manufacturers’ sales targets for MHD ZEVs; HDO sets increased emissions standards for newly manufactured MHD vehicles powered by ICEs.
Our team found that both ACT and HDO have the potential to provide positive total net benefits to North Carolina. Combined, these policies offer total discounted net benefits between $53 billion and $25 billion in economic impacts (present value terms, 2026, 7% discount rate) accruing to North Carolina between 2026 and 2050. The total net benefits are the combination of health savings, owner net costs/savings, and monetized climate benefits of GHG emission reductions.
By 2050, the cumulative net benefits are expected to grow to over $118 billion. Average public health savings due to improved air quality over the 25-year period is approximately $110 billion. Climate benefits associated with reductions of GHG emissions provides an additional $12 billion. Cumulative economic cost savings of $5.3 billion are also achieved over the same period driven largely by the incremental savings in fuel and annual maintenance of ZEV trucks compared with ICE trucks.