It’s time for the EPA to get tough on our biggest roadway polluters: heavy-duty trucks
The transportation sector is driving climate change…quite literally.
Tailpipe emissions from heavy duty trucks are a leading cause of air and climate pollution in the United States, and to drive the matter a bit closer to home, Maricopa County receives a “F” grade for particle and ozone pollution.
The pollution from trucks is dangerous to our health and can trigger asthma attacks, impair lung function and development, and lead to lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes and even premature deaths.
These effects are especially acute for the most vulnerable among us, including children, seniors, low-income residents and communities of color, the latter of which tend to live closest to polluting highways, warehouse centers, and transportation corridors.
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That is why the American Lung Association and many other health partners are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency and the Biden administration to finalize the national heavy-duty truck standards to reduce fossil fuel truck pollution and accelerate the transition to zero-emission trucks.
Without these actions, we risk missing out on clean technologies that will make our communities healthier while locking in the status quo of harmful climate and air pollution.
Given the incredible innovations in zero-emission technologies — electric vehicles, charging infrastructure, battery efficiency — it’s time for the EPA to set new heavy-duty truck safeguards.
Medium- and heavy-duty trucks account for approximately 6% of the on-road fleet but contribute nearly 60% of the ozone and particulate pollution. These vehicles include heavier pick-up trucks, delivery and parcel vans, short- and long-haul trucks and tractor trailers.
EPA needs to take bold and swift action to update, improve, and finalize the clean heavy-duty truck standards to achieve the strongest cuts in harmful emissions from heavy-duty trucks. This needs to start with model years 2027 through 2032 — and we need it enacted by the end of this year to get on track for a timely and effective transition to zero-emission vehicles. A growing list of states have already adopted zero-emission truck standards — we need strong federal action to match.
Phoenix, the fifth most populous city in the U.S. and a major transportation and logistics hub, consistently ranks as one of the most polluted cities in the U.S. In our 2023 State of the Air report, Phoenix ranked 5th for most unhealthy days of ozone and 7th for annual particle pollution levels. In Maricopa County alone, there are 83,000 children and 329,000 adults with asthma.
Moving away from combustion to zero-emission technologies is critical to cleaning up the air we breathe. Our “Zeroing in on Healthy Air” report found that a widespread shift to zero-emission transportation and clean energy would yield major health benefits between 2020 and 2050. Arizona alone could experience $15.1 billion in health benefits and avoid 1,360 premature deaths, 38,500 asthma attacks, and 182,000 lost work days
An overhaul of our nation’s trucking fleet is critical if we’re to ever realize a clean air future. Championing cleaner heavy-duty truck standards is a critical step.
We are at a crossroads, a time where immediate action is necessary to correct this longstanding environmental injustice and most importantly, for the health and wellbeing of the people of Arizona, our nation, and planet.