Environmental Justice Communities Living in Crosshairs of Highway Emissions Demand Better From New EPA Standards for Heavy Duty Vehicles

April 2, 2024

WASHINGTON DC – The Clean Air for the Long Haul (CAFLH) Cohort shares that the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated Standards for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions for Heavy-Duty Vehicles falls short of the needs of our communities, and continues to delay important changes that will save countless lives. While these standards represent critical actions to address greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from the heavy-duty vehicle sector, we are disappointed in the lack of ambition that delays much needed truck pollution reductions and quality of life improvements our communities need and deserve. 

“This rule does not go far enough, and fast enough, to reduce the polluting trucks that are affecting our overburdened communities today. We should remove these dirty emissions from our community and replace them with zero emission vehicles in the nearest timeframe. Industry has lobbied against this by claiming a high cost, but the industry has long been profiting at the expense of our health, and as the polluters, they should pay.” – Rayan Markarem, Clean Air Now

Pollution from heavy-duty trucks and tractors is an egregious source of environmental injustice. EPA analysis found that 72 million people, many of which are low-income and people of color, live within 200 meters of major trucking routes. In 2020, heavy-duty vehicles emitted over 1 million tons of nitrogen oxides and over 33,400 tons of particulate matter, disproportionately impacting environmental justice communities. Despite comprising only 10% of vehicles on the road, heavy-duty vehicles contribute over 25% of greenhouse gas in the transportation sector. Our communities contend with the realities of this every day, experiencing chronic exposure to harmful nitrogen oxides and particulate matter that leads to disproportionately higher rates of asthma, lung disease, heart attacks, preterm births and premature deaths. Eliminating tailpipe emissions from heavy-duty vehicles is required to begin to redress long-standing harms and deliver clean air for communities overburdened by truck pollution and infrastructure.

Despite the clear multiple benefits of stronger vehicle standards that can move us towards a zero-emissions future, the rule does not send a strong enough signal to industry. The American Lung Association estimates that by adopting policies to advance zero-emission trucks and power by 2050, we could see $735 billion in public health benefits due to cleaner air, 66,800 fewer premature deaths, 1.75 million fewer asthma attacks, and 8.5 million fewer lost workdays. Research also shows that pollution-free, electric heavy-duty trucks are cheaper to own and operate over the vehicle’s lifetime, saving fleets money. 

Our communities have spoken: No more compromises. The work of the Clean Trucks Plan to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from the transportation sector is not complete. Coupled with enforcement, as well as robust and meaningful community engagement, it should be part of a wider regulatory framework. This must include finalizing strong, health-protective EPA rules to deliver clean air and safeguard our lives and future.

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Clean Air For The Long Haul, a nationwide coalition of environmental justice groups, coordinates federal rulemaking campaigns, centering overburdened communities, to reduce air pollution from power plants, cars, and trucks. The coalition seeks to catalyze the environmental justice movement through federal emissions reductions targeting United States power and transportation sectors. Coalition member organizations include: Alternatives for Community and Environment, Clear Air Now, Coalition of Community Organizations, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Duwamish River Community Coalition, Green Door Initiative, New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance, South Bronx Unite, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, West End Revitalization Association, and Wisconsin Green Muslims.


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