The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acted to reduce dangerous smog-forming pollutants from trucks, issuing a rule targeting nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from heavy-duty vehicles. However, the final rule will not be enough to properly address this pollution in a timely manner, said Zach Friedman, director of federal policy at Ceres.
The EPA opted today for the less ambitious of its proposed NOx standards and delayed the proposal of greenhouse gas emission standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks until 2023. Heavy-duty vehicles are the largest source of greenhouse gas and NOx emissions in the nation’s transportation sector. Exposure to NOx can have harmful health effects, including respiratory disease, and reducing this pollution is critical to relieving low-income and overburdened communities that have long borne its brunt. Transitioning to zero-emission trucks will address these air quality issues while also helping to meet national climate goals and reducing and stabilizing fuel costs.
“Large commercial vehicles are critical to the functioning of our economy, and there is no reason they must threaten our climate or the health of the communities they pass through,” added Friedman. “While we are pleased that the EPA will now more effectively regulate NOx pollutants, we are disappointed that the agency did not opt for more aggressive action and stronger, still-feasible standards. Ceres will keep pushing for additional regulations to further cut vehicle pollution by ensuring the availability of zero-emission trucks, especially as federal investments recently approved by Congress make these vehicles more accessible.”
Ceres has been a leader in supporting clean truck policies, advocating throughout 2022 for federal and state regulations to reduce pollution from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. In April, Ceres provided testimony to the EPA, calling for the stronger proposed set of standards to reduce NOx emissions and grow the market for zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles. And in May, the Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance — a coalition of companies eager to transition their fleets to clean vehicle models — wrote to the agency to call for “strong standards to ensure the widespread availability of clean trucks in the U.S.” and to strengthen the proposed NOx standards.
Ceres has also mobilized corporate support for financial incentives and infrastructure investments in the Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—which will help make zero-emission vehicles more affordable, providing an even stronger economic and climate case for robust heavy-duty vehicle regulations. At the state level, the sustainability nonprofit has championed the Advanced Clean Trucks rule in states across the country to grow sales of zero-emission trucks and vans over time.
Ceres urges EPA officials to capitalize on this momentum and promptly finalize ambitious greenhouse gas emissions standards to accelerate the production and deployment of zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles nationwide.
“Clean trucks are in high demand from companies that are eager to reduce their fuel and maintenance costs, improve air quality, and meet their climate goals. But we need strong federal standards to grow this market and support the economies of scale that will make these vehicles more widely available,” said Sara Forni, director of clean vehicles, Ceres. “The EPA’s NOx rules are an improvement over the status quo but do not go far enough to reduce dangerous air pollution in nearby communities. The best thing the EPA can do now to ensure a cleaner and more sustainable transportation system is to set strong greenhouse gas emissions standards that help more quickly deploy electric trucks that are better for public health, the climate, and companies’ bottom lines.”