New York Gov. Hochul’s Chance to Protect Lung Health

Deadline approaches for Governor Kathy Hochul to direct state agencies to start the process of adopting the Advanced Clean Trucks rule that will increase the number of pollution-free trucks on N.Y. streets


Nydia Gutiérrez, Earthjustice


Christina Heartquist, Sunstone Strategies

Health, business, and clean air advocates submitted a letter to Governor Hochul to asking her to take immediate action to protect the state’s frontline communities from deadly diesel soot pollution. Time is running out for the governor to direct state agencies to start the process of adopting the Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) rule, which would set manufacturing targets for these vehicles, ensuring they are available for purchase by fleets across the state.

“The clock is ticking for Governor Hochul to take a strong stand against deadly diesel pollution,” said Kevin Garcia, transportation planner with New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. “Dirty trucks are wreaking havoc on the health of New York’s most diverse communities, making them more vulnerable to lung disease like COVID-19. It’s past time for the state to take action and start the shift to pollution-free trucks.”

The letter states: “Unless the rule is finalized by December 31, 2021, New York State is at risk of letting an entire ACT compliance year slip by. The real-world implications are stark: even a one-year implementation delay would result in hundreds of additional diesel trucks on our roads instead of viable zero-emission alternatives, emitting carcinogenic exhaust into our neighborhoods and harming our climate for the next two decades.”

“We can’t afford to breathe 20 more years of diesel exhaust,” said Anthony Buissereth, executive director of North Brooklyn Neighbors. “Now is the time to do what’s right for our communities and support pollution-free trucks that will save lives.”

In New York City, exposure to diesel soot pollution contributes to an estimated 320 premature deaths each year due to cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and other illnesses. Pollution from trucks and buses accounts for over half of these deaths. By way of comparison, 292 homicides and 222 traffic fatalities were reported in New York City in 2017. The burden of this pollution falls primarily on communities of color.

“Adopting the Advanced Clean Truck rule is the natural next step for New York to reduce emissions in line with the state’s climate law,” said Rachel Patterson, Legislative and Climate Associate, Environmental Advocates New York. “Switching out dirty fossil fuel-powered trucks for electric vehicles means our communities will be breathing cleaner air. Heavy-duty vehicles idle for long periods of time in high-density shipping areas which are often located in low-income communities and communities of color. By committing to the Advanced Clean Trucks rule, New York State will be better protecting our disadvantaged communities.”

“The Advanced Clean Truck rule is the best tool we have to address deadly truck pollution,” said Alok Disa, senior research and policy analyst with Earthjustice. “Diesel trucks are delivering pollution to every doorstep in our state, with buses, garbage trucks, delivery trucks, and street sweepers spewing toxic soot all day long. Pollution-free trucks will benefit all New Yorkers.”

“Cleaning up the tailpipe pollution of trucks that ply the roads of New York is one of the best things we can do to address the legacy of environmental injustice and improve the health of poor and disadvantaged families,” said Kathy Harris, an advocate at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “Governor Hochul should move expeditiously to adopt these clean truck rules and put our state on the road to cleaner air and better health.”

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