The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) today filed comments urging EPA to quickly finalize significantly stronger standards than what the agency is considering to cut nitrogen pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty trucks and buses.
EPA must do so, CBF argued, to advance the Bay cleanup, fight climate change and its damaging effects on the watershed, and protect the health of the region’s 18 million people, particularly communities located near major roadways, children, people with respiratory problems, and other vulnerable residents.
CBF urged EPA to finalize standards that would slash nitrogen oxide emissions from new heavy vehicles by at least 90 percent by model year 2027 and help accelerate the transition to a completely zero-emissions heavy vehicle fleet. Because the existing standards have not changed since 2001, CBF also called on EPA to swiftly finish its work on the rule.
Nitrogen oxides harm the health of both the Bay and the millions of people living in its 64,000 square-mile watershed.
Airborne nitrogen from fossil fuel-powered vehicle exhaust and other sources is responsible for one third of the nitrogen pollution damaging the Bay. Nitrogen is one of the three main pollutants that must be reduced to restore water quality in the Bay and the tens of thousands of local creeks, streams and rivers that feed into it.
Nitrogen oxide emissions from heavy trucks and buses also contribute to increased asthma attacks, difficulty breathing, lung irritation, decreased heart function, and other respiratory and cardiac problems. The health risks are particularly high for communities, such as Baltimore City and Washington, D.C., close to heavily traveled roadways. Many of these communities are also home to lower income residents and/or people of color already overburdened by air and water pollution.
Heavy truck engines also emit greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Climate change effects like warmer waters, rising seas, and more frequent and intense flooding are already battering low-lying communities like Annapolis and Virginia Beach, disrupting farm operations in central Pennsylvania, and damaging the region’s multibillion dollar seafood industry.
Federal Executive Director Denise Stranko issued the following statement:
“Cleaner trucks and buses are essential to a cleaner, more climate resilient Bay and healthier air for the 18 million people who live, work, and play in its watershed. The current 21-year-old emissions limits for heavy-duty vehicles are woefully inadequate.
“Our neighbors with asthma and other respiratory problems, communities near major highways that run through the watershed, and other vulnerable residents of our region have waited too long to breathe easier. Climate change is already wreaking havoc across the watershed and threatening to reverse the hard-fought progress we have made restoring the Bay and its tributaries.
“EPA must update and significantly strengthen nitrogen oxide and greenhouse gas emissions limits for new heavy-duty trucks and buses. CBF urges the agency complete this critical task without further delay.”