Truck pollution is a public health crisis, but it doesn’t have to be. Most heavy-duty trucks on the road burn diesel, which takes a heavy toll on the health of the communities trucks drive through as they belch dangerous levels of nitrogen oxides, benzene, and particulate matter. Breathing such heavily polluted air dramatically raises asthma rates and the risk of lung problems, leading some doctors to call neighborhoods with heavy freight activity “diesel death zones.” Tell the Environmental Protection Agency to do something about truck pollution.
With rapid advancements in electric truck technologies, several states requiring manufacturers to increase their production of zero-emitting trucks, and competent leadership restored to the EPA, we were hopeful that the EPA would finally revise its 20-year-old truck standards, and adopt strong, new national standards that would put us firmly on course to electrify the country’s trucks and clean up our air. Unfortunately, it released a proposal that doesn’t require any truck electrification and, indeed, would allow the production of electric trucks to excuse diesel trucks from employing state-of-the-art pollution controls.
The EPA has more power than any other agency to address this problem, and the federal government needs to prove it cares about clean air and the climate crisis after the disastrous Postal Service fleet replacement plan. Tell the EPA to come back with stronger protections.
Racist transportation and housing policies enacted by local, state, and federal governments pushed communities of color into close proximity with ports and freight routes, and vice versa. That harm is ongoing, yet governments are still signing off on new mega-warehouses that generate additional truck trips and pollution — and these warehouses are also disproportionately located in communities of color. Eliminating pollution by electrifying trucks is a key solution to address this harm, yet the EPA still lacks the will to craft regulations that will meaningfully address the problem.
Trucks poison our air, but they’re also threatening the stability of our climate. Transportation recently eclipsed electricity generation as the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, and medium and heavy-duty trucks account for nearly a quarter of those emissions — a share that’s growing rapidly. The UN’s latest climate report made clear that we need to start decreasing global emissions by 2025 and halve them by 2030 — and aggressively electrifying trucks would be a strong step in that direction.
The EPA has an obligation, to our communities and to our climate, to ensure that trucks are not poisoning our lungs and our futures. Call on the EPA to grow its ambition and tackle this problem with the conviction it requires.