EDF Testifies in Support of California Proposal to Reduce Air Pollution from Heavy Duty Trucks

EDF Also Releases New Report on Health Harms of Transportation Pollution, Benefits of Zero Emission Vehicles

August 27, 2020
Sharyn Stein, 202-905-5718, sstein@edf.org

(August 27, 2020) EDF is joining health associations, community organizations and policymakers from across the country at a public hearing today to urge California to adopt groundbreaking new protections against smog-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollution from the almost one million heavy duty trucks and buses that operate on California’s roads each year. Those heavy duty vehicles are the single largest source of NOx pollution in California.

Former EPA official and current EDF consultant Chester France will speak at today’s virtual meeting of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and offer evidence to support the public health imperative for the state’s proposed rule. His testimony will include information from a new EDF report about the serious health harms of traffic pollution and the life-saving benefits of transitioning to zero emitting vehicles – including a new peer reviewed study by EPA experts that estimates 20,000 deaths as a result of the cars and trucks on our roads and highways today.

“EDF supports the proposed Omnibus rulemaking that will prevent nearly 3,900 deaths in California while providing over $36 billion in health benefits,” says France in his testimony. He called for CARB to approve the proposal saying, “Your action will deliver the maximum NOx emission reductions and health improvements possible, especially for those most vulnerable and those living closest to heavy truck traffic.”

EDF also submitted more extensive written comments to CARB.

Air pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and death in the world. In the U.S. almost half of all people live in communities with unhealthy levels of air pollution. Transportation sector pollution is a major source of deadly smog-forming and particulate pollution, and is now also the largest source of climate pollution in the U.S.

According to the American Lung Association, California remains home to the worst air in the nation. The state’s highway vehicles are responsible for 45 percent of NOx pollution, which is a main component of smog and causes numerous heart and lung diseases.

California communities next to railyards, ports and warehouses face heavy truck traffic, with trucks often idling, driving slowly and making frequent stops. Current standards do not protect against NOx emissions during those “low load” condition. California’s proposed Low NOx Heavy-Duty Omnibus Regulation would help reduce that pollution and keep nearby communities safer.

California is also one of 11 states that have adopted programs to speed the transition to zero emission passenger cars and trucks, and the state recently adopted the nation’s first zero emission vehicles program for heavy-duty trucks and buses.

EDF just released a new report with comprehensive information about the dangers of pollution from the cars and trucks on our roads and highways, and about strategies to address it. The report, Accelerating to 100% Clean: Zero Emitting Vehicles Save Lives, Advance Justice, Create Jobs, compiles the most recent information on the issue in one document. Among its findings:

  • Communities of color and disadvantaged populations shoulder the greatest health burden from vehicle pollution.
  • In 2019, our motor vehicles were responsible for a third of the nation’s total NOx emissions.
  • Delivery trucks and tractor trailers make up only about four percent of the vehicles on our roads, but emit almost half of the transportation sector NOx pollution.
  • The number of people living “next to a busy road” may include 30 to 45 percent of the urban population in North America.
  • More than 6.4 million children attend public school within 250 meters of a major roadway.
  • Electric vehicles are inherently cleaner than their conventional gasoline and diesel counterparts, emitting zero tailpipe pollution and less climate pollution even when accounting for upstream power plant emissions.
  • Zero emitting commercial trucks reduce climate and NOx pollution because they release no tailpipe emissions. They are also two to five times more energy efficient than diesel vehicles.
  • E-buses in most charging configurations cost less than comparable diesel buses on a total-cost-of-ownership basis.
  • In 2019, there were more than 240,000 people in America employed in jobs related to hybrid and electric vehicles, and nearly 500,000 working in jobs focused on fuel efficient components.

You can read the full report here.

EDF also recently released a report with Energy Innovation that found CARB’s Advanced Clean Truck rule could save at least seven billion dollars over the next 20 years. You can read that report here.

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Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.