EPA’s New Truck Standards Fail to Meet the Moment

To meet health and climate imperatives, we need to drive our freight system more aggressively toward zero emissions


Alexandria Trimble, atrimble@earthjustice.org

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced final standards to lower tailpipe emissions from heavy-duty trucks. The standards will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from trucks but do not go far enough to spur the essential transition to a zero emissions fleet and protect the health of communities that are at the front lines of our dirty freight system.

In response, Abigail Dillen, President of Earthjustice, released the following statement:

“The EPA did not go far enough to protect communities from dangerous health impacts linked to heavy-duty truck pollution. Diesel trucks not only spew tons of carbon dioxide into the air, they also choke communities all along our freight corridors with deadly air pollution, including nitrogen oxides and soot emissions. This rule could have provided relief to communities across the country by driving a more ambitious transition to zero emissions technology, which is also what the climate crisis demands. Instead, truck manufacturers have pushed EPA to slow-walk this change.

“We have the technology, and thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we have the resources to modernize our freight system. We will continue to push federal agencies to adopt standards and policies that will drive us towards zero-emissions trucks. In the absence of that federal leadership, EPA must quickly authorize strong state standards that will lead the way on cleaning up freight pollution, and work with the other federal agencies to deploy investments in freight-impacted communities to support state and local efforts to achieve broad freight electrification.”


Heavy-duty trucks make up only 10% of vehicles on the road, but produce 45% of nitrogen oxides and 57% of fine particulates (PM 2.5) in the U.S. Nitrogen oxides contribute to smog and soot pollution linked to breathing problems and reduced lung function in children and adults, while fine particulates cross the blood-brain barrier and trigger heart and cognitive problems. Heavy-duty trucks also account for 28% of the transportation sector’s greenhouse gas emissions — the largest and fastest-growing greenhouse gas emitting sector in the country.

California, which is home to some of the largest and most polluting freight hubs in the country, and nine other states have already adopted strong standards that will require the freight industry to transition to zero emissions trucks. Now is the time for EPA to commit to a 100% zero-emissions freight system and nationalize the progress that is already underway.

The Biden administration recognizes that need through the National Zero-Emission Freight Corridor Strategy to coordinate and increase investments in vital zero-emissions medium and heavy-duty vehicle infrastructure, with the goal of a zero-emission freight charging network by 2040.

Trucks line up outside the Amazon ONT 2 and 5 facilities in San Bernardino.
Trucks line up outside the Amazon ONT 2 and 5 facilities in San Bernardino. (Image Courtesy of Anthony Victoria-Midence / CCAEJ)

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