The Biden administration today announced plans to dramatically reduce pollution from trucks in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a new rule that would require new trucks to reduce harmful nitrogen oxide emissions by 90% from current standards by 2031.
These measures reflect rapid technological advances in zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles, according to a White House fact sheet released today. It also follows an injection of money for cleaner-burning vehicles provided for in the bipartisan Infrastructure Act passed last year. The actions align with two priorities President Joe Biden has highlighted since the campaign trail: tackling climate change and cleaning the air in communities that have been disproportionately burdened by pollution.
Heavy-duty vehicles like trucks and buses are the biggest source of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the United States, one of the main pollutants that cause smog. On their own, NOx emissions can also make it harder for people with asthma and other respiratory conditions to breathe. Long-term exposure to high levels of NOx can cause asthma. The new EPA rule, if fully implemented, could prevent 2,000 premature deaths per year, according to the fact sheet. It could also prevent 6,700 hospital and emergency room visits per year and 18,000 cases of asthma in children.
“Neighborhoods near freeways, ports and other congested areas are particularly hard hit by health problems and premature deaths associated with dirty diesel exhaust,” the White House fact sheet states. Pollution worsened further in some of these neighborhoods last year when tangled supply chains disrupted ship and truck traffic near ports. Americans of color also bore a heavier burden of smog-forming nitrogen dioxide pollution.
Heavy-duty vehicles also account for more than a quarter of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. The White House also said in a statement today that it is considering updating greenhouse gas emissions standards for 2027-2029 model year trucks and buses.
“Because costs have come down and national and local policy will drive deployment, zero-emission trucks and buses are entering the market much faster than expected when the rules were previously established,” the company’s fact sheet says. the White House. According to a new study released today by the National Renewable Energy Lab, zero-emission electric trucks can achieve total cost of driving parity with diesel combustion trucks by 2035.
The drive to build a national electric vehicle charging network, funded by the new bipartisan infrastructure law, includes charging infrastructure for trucks. The Biden administration is also trying to reduce its own pollution, aiming for the federal government to reach net zero emissions for its operations by 2050. This includes replacing its gas-powered fleet with cleaner alternatives. But those efforts have run into hurdles: The United States Postal Service decided in February to update its fleet of mail trucks with nearly all gas-guzzling vehicles.