Special Climate Edition (June 2020)
Transportation Working Group of Maine Climate Council Update
June 11, 2020

After much discussion at the October 16, 2019 MMTA Board meeting, the Association Directors instructed MMTA staff to accept the invitation to participate on the Transportation Working Group (TWG) of the Maine Climate Council. It was clear then, and clearer now, that trucking’s voice on the TWG was necessary to “support free market principles, oppose the most objectionable solutions and find ways to support solutions that our industry can work with.”

Almost eight months later, the TWG is wrapping up its recommendations to the Climate Council and now seems like a good time to update MMTA members. Please note: the stated goals for both the Maine Climate Council and the Transportation Working Group are provided at the end of this article for your reference.

While the process has been time consuming and sometimes frustrating, it should be noted that everyone involved has been respectful and thoughtful in their comments and approach. We are grateful that trucking’s perspective was requested and confident that we have been heard. That said, the proposals can be broken down into five overall strategies. Some are good and some are terrible, but we offer the following outline of the high-level details and MMTA’s commentary, if applicable, for you to make up your own mind.

From here, MMTA will continue to be engaged with the Climate Council’s deliberations as it formulates the state’s climate plan to meet Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets given the work of all of the working groups, including the TWG.

If you have questions about the TWG process, the MMTA's climate positions or the next steps of the Maine Climate Council, please contact Brian for more information.
TWG Proposed Strategy:
Expand Electrification of Vehicles 

Specific Proposals:
  • Provide Equitable Incentives and Grants that encourage voluntary consumer conversion from gasoline vehicles to electric vehicles (EV’s) and/or electric bikes (ebikes).
  • Design comprehensive and consistent approach to expand EV charging infrastructure and monitoring and overseeing electrification efforts (EV Roadmap) to support achievement of statewide Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) targets.
  • Advance the deployment of EV’s (including medium and heavy duty trucks) by ensuring operational costs are low and electrification benefits are maximized through a package of utility/Public Utility Commission (PUC)-focused legislation.
  • Establish Statewide ZEV/EV adoption targets with extensions and possible exceptions for medium and heavy duty vehicles depending upon availability and reliability.

MMTA Commentary:
We have expressed concern time and again about the application of electrification in the trucking industry, especially the heavy haul segment of our industry such as logging, fuel hauling and construction. Further, there are three scenarios that the TWG analyzed, with the targets to achieve emissions goals requiring between 55% and 80% adoption of electric heavy-duty vehicles by 2050. Which is completely unrealistic without a mandate and we have been clear that we do not (and will never) support such mandates.
TWG Proposed Strategy:
Reduce the Emissions of Maine’s Internal Combustion Engine

Specific Proposals:
  • Encouraging greater voluntary freight company participation in the EPA’s SmartWay program, which helps improve freight transportation efficiency.
  • Expanding alternative fuels with biodiesel/biofuels and hydrogen technology down the road.
  • Increasing vehicle fuel economies by:
  • Establishing a program to incentivize the removal/replacement of low fuel economy vehicles;
  • Test the feasibility of implementing a statewide (or federal) Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS);
  • Reduce vehicle idling time; and
  • Expand the state emissions inspection program (currently in Cumberland County only) to York County.
  • Comprehensive education and marketing regarding fuel economy strategies.

MMTA Commentary:
We brought the idea of voluntary participation in the SmartWay program to the group and have led the charge when it comes to adopting this as a specific proposal. We have also supported further implementation of a weigh station by-pass program for only the safest of carriers to reduce idling. However, within this broader strategy, we have expressed our concern with alternative fuels and a LCFS.
TWG Proposed Strategy:
Reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled

Specific Proposals:
  • Support Development in Priority Areas;
  • Expand Public Transportation;
  • Expand Telework and Teleservice Opportunities;
  • Expand GO MAINE’s Multimodal Support Services for Mainers and Workplaces;
  • Increase Rail Freight Service Efficiency;
  • Conduct Public Education & Marketing Regarding VMT Reduction Efforts.

MMTA Commentary:
MMTA provided consistent feedback that we do not believe government’s role is to pick winners and losers – pointing to the TWG notion that freight rail should be expanded without any plan, without any stakeholder involvement and without any data on emissions savings. We also mentioned time and again that we could not support proposals that competed for existing financial resources when it came to funding Maine’s already underfunded infrastructure. In the absence of identifying revenue to pay for some of these proposals, we feel that would be likely to happen.
TWG Proposed Strategy:
Adapt Maine’s Infrastructure Critical to the State

Specific Proposals:
  • Conduct a statewide Infrastructure Vulnerability Assessment;
  • Develop a maintenance database (or improve an existing database) used by the Department of Transportation and municipalities;
  • Encourage the implementation of resilient upgrades through specific design guidance and standards that should be adopted and updated;
  • Further increase the resiliency of state infrastructure by investigating materials used in asset construction for increased durability.

MMTA Commentary:
TWG Proposed Strategy:
Explore Mechanisms to Fund Transportation Emission Reduction

Specific Proposals: 
  • Refer to the March 2020 bi-partisan Blue Ribbon Commission to Recommend Transportation Funding Solutions Report;
  • Implement a fuel tax increase;
  • Transportation and Climate Initiative: Implement a cap, trade and invest system placed on fuel suppliers;
  • Charge a fee for Vehicle Miles traveled, weight and/or emissions from a vehicle;
  • Implement an excise tax based on vehicle emissions and/or weight.

MMTA Commentary:
We are opposed to VMT and any weight-distance taxes as have been proposed because truckers are non-discretionary users of the transportation system, we already pay a disproportionate share of the cost to use it and we believe the fuel tax is the most cost-effective and efficient mechanism to collect user fees. As to implementing a fuel tax increase, MMTA’s long-standing position is to support such an effort as long as the additional revenue is used for roads and bridges, is reasonable, and it is implemented at a time when the economy can afford it.

Probably the biggest sticking point throughout the TWG process was on Maine’s participation in the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) that is effectively a carbon tax. MMTA and others have been clear that we do not support such an effort for a number of practical reasons, further reinforced by our contention that now is not the time to implement this new tax scheme and that the details aren’t even fully developed.
Goals of the Maine Climate Council
  • Bold emissions reductions: The Maine Climate Council is charged with developing a plan to meet state greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets that are now in law, including a gross 45% greenhouse gas emissions reduction below 1990 levels by 2030 and at least 80% by 2050
  • Mitigation: Develop mitigation strategies to meet state emissions reduction requirements in all sectors of the economy, with a focus on Maine’s transportation, electricity, and buildings sectors.
  • Resilience: Develop strategies that will make Maine people, industries, and communities resilient to the impacts of climate change.
  • Jobs: Recommend how to best grow good paying jobs in the transition to a lower carbon economy, and provide support and retraining for those industries and workers who will be most impacted by climate change.
  • Transition: Develop programs to ensure Maine’s rural, low-income and elderly populations are not adversely impacted in the shift to a low-carbon economy, while also delivering benefits like lower heating bills.

Goals of the Transportation Working Group:
  • To evaluate and recommend short- and long-term mitigation strategies to reduce gross and net annual greenhouse gas emissions from Maine's transportation sector.
  • Evaluate and recommend short- and long-term strategies and actions for adaptation and resiliency to climate change.
Plugging In: Electric Trucks in the Northeast
SmartWay Transport Partnership

The Clean Freight Work Group of the Northeast Diesel Collaborative (NEDC) invites MMTA members to an interactive session to get ready for electric truck technology. We will cover the current state and outlook for technology and charging infrastructure, as well as what we in the Northeast can do to make adoption of these technologies by fleets and facilities viable and attractive. We look forward to a productive discussion with you!

Thursday, June 25, 2020 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM EDT


  • Welcome – Abby Swaine, SmartWay and Clean Freight Programs, US EPA Region 1
  • Global Commercial Vehicle Drive To Zero Program -- Ben Mandel, Northeast Regional Director, CALSTART 
  • Run on Less: Electric Trucks in Regional Haul -- Dave Schaller, Industry Engagement Director, NACFE 
  • New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program - Patrick Bolton, Senior Project Manager, NYSERDA 
  • New York City Clean Trucks Program - Susan McSherry, Alternative Fuels Director, NYCDOT 
  • Q&A / Discussion
We will keep MMTA members posted as new information comes in. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to email Tim, Randy or Brian if you have questions.