New Truck Standard Falls Short of What’s Needed to Protect Communities from Pollution

Statement by Dave Cooke, Senior Vehicles Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Dec 20, 2022

Washington (December 20, 2022)—Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a new rule to limit pollution from new heavy-duty trucks. The rule is the first update to standards regulating smog-forming and soot pollution from heavy-duty trucks in over two decades. EPA’s final rule applies to truck sales in all 50 states and comes on the heels of standards set in 2020 by California and subsequently adopted by several states. However, the rule doesn’t answer the calls from scientists and environmental justice advocates to speed the transition to zero-emission trucks, which EPA has signaled will be considered in their next round of standards expected next year.

Below is a statement by Dave Cooke, senior vehicles analyst for the Clean Transportation Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The emissions from heavy-duty trucks pose a clear threat to the millions of people who live near major highways and trucking corridors—disproportionately people of color and low-income communities. Nearly 8,000 people each year are estimated to die prematurely as a result of exposure to truck pollution. National pollution standards for heavy-duty trucks are a vital, proven tool for cutting harmful diesel emissions, and these standards were last updated 20 years ago.

“While new trucks will emit significantly less pollution under the new standard compared to today’s vehicles, this policy is a missed opportunity. The final standards announced by EPA do not reflect the full potential of the solutions available to tackle smog-forming and particulate pollution from trucks, including electrification. Many states already have rules in place that effectively reduce pollution and advance truck electrification—rules that are more ambitious than what EPA has put forth.

“The EPA has an obligation to listen to the people who are breathing this pollution every day. The agency must set standards that substantially reduce pollution while also putting us on a path to zero emissions. This rule is limited in scope, leaving significant work to be done to address the public health challenge and environmental injustice posed by truck pollution. Fortunately, EPA is set to develop another round of truck standards next year. Those standards must address the multiple pollutants produced by diesel engines and propel a shift to zero-emission trucks. Communities on the front lines of truck pollution can’t afford to wait any longer.”