March 12, 2022
Contacts: Anastasia Gordon, Energy and Transportation Policy Manager, anastasia@weact.org, and Lonnie Portis, Environmental Policy and Advocacy Coordinator, lonnie@weact.org


WASHINGTON, DC – This week the Biden Administration announced plans to leverage Department of Transportation (DOT) initiatives and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rulemaking to accelerate the cleaner transportation transition. WE ACT for Environmental Justice policy experts, Anastasia Gordon, Energy and Transportation Policy Manager and Lonnie “LJ” Portis, Environmental Policy and Advocacy Coordinator, responded to the announcement:

“WE ACT for Environmental Justice has a long history of advocating for transportation policies, practices and investments that can deliver cleaner air, health improvements and economic justice in areas burdened by transportation pollution.

Our Dirty Diesel Campaign led to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) purchasing and placing cleaner buses on routes serving Northern Manhattan and to the achievement of a 95 percent reduction in tailpipe emissions citywide. Most recently, we successfully advocated for passage of Local Law 120 of 2021, which requires school buses that serve New York City Public Schools to be all electric by 2035. And we are currently working with Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), the MTA, and other agencies, organizations and elected officials to create an accessible and attractive public transit center at East 125th Street and Park Avenue in East Harlem to serve as an economic catalyst for the community and address legacy environmental and social injustices.

The announced $2.2 billion of DOT investments through the American Rescue Plan as well as $5.5 billion and $2 billion over the next 5 years for its Low- and No-Emission Transit Vehicle Program and Buses and Bus Facilities Program, respectively, from the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act can provide the resources needed for the 125th Street Hub to come to fruition, and for the MTA and school bus operators to modernize their bus system facilities; speed up the transition of their fleets from fossil fuel powered vehicles to electric buses; and facilitate a just and equitable transition of their workforces to a green energy reality that includes the full cycle of zero emission vehicle operations and maintenance. Also, the DOT initiatives are a welcomed complement to the EPA Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) School Bus Rebate and Clean School Bus programs – which can protect millions of children in New York by reducing their exposure to climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful pollutants.

Finally, we believe the investments in vehicle electrification and infrastructure must be supported with rigorous mandatory emission reduction standards that decrease our exposure to carbon (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – which contribute to climate change, poor air quality and adverse health effects in our communities. We are pleased to see the EPA release an update to the Heavy Duty Vehicle standard for the first time in 20 years and consider it to be a much needed start. Our goal is to ensure that the agency hears from affected communities and quickly finalizes a strong standard that will drive down pollution in disproportionately affected areas and put us on a path to achieving our net zero by 2050 carbon reduction goals.”

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WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a Northern Manhattan membership-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low-income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT has offices in New York and Washington, D.C. Visit us at weact.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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