Padilla, Feinstein Push to Revise Emission Standards for Heavy-Duty Trucks

Senators push the Administration to reduce emissions and protect clean air for environmental justice communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sent a letter to President Joe Biden pushing the Administration to revise the nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission standards for on-highway heavy-duty trucks, which have not been revised in 20 years.

“Given your administration’s priority of reducing carbon pollution from the transportation sector to fight the climate crisis, protect clean air, and provide environmental justice to communities, we are concerned that the spring 2021 Uniform Regulatory Agenda did not include the Ultra-Low NOx Emission Standard for Heavy-Duty Trucks in the list of items that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to take regulatory action on this year,” the Senators wrote. 

Heavy-duty trucks continue to pollute NOx into the air, contributing to the poor air quality in California and specifically harming environmental justice communities who are at most at risk from the severe health consequences from NOx. The emissions from heavy-duty trucks harm many regions across California from the Bay Area to the San Joaquin Valley to the Los Angeles Basin – and the lack of updated standards threatens California’s economic activity and many regions’ability to meet upcoming Clean Air Act requirements. California aggressively regulates toxic emissions, and its NOx standards are 90 percent more stringent than the federal standards. 

The Senators’ letter urges the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do its part to set federal standards to limit NOx nationwide and in California in order to reach our shared climate targets, protect clean air, and improve our public health,“California is committed to adopting and implementing measures to achieve needed reductions of NOx emissions. For instance, last August the California Air Resources Board approved the adoption of NOx emissions standards for new highway heavy-duty trucks that are 90 percent more stringent than the current federal NOx exhaust emission standards. Although those new standards will result in substantial reductions of NOx, it is nevertheless critical that EPA timely adopt the Ultra-Low NOx Emissions Standard for Heavy-Duty Trucks because federally certified heavy-duty trucks are responsible for over half of the total vehicles miles traveled and the emissions generated by heavy-duty trucks in California.”

“Issuing and implementing this rule expeditiously is critical to achieving reductions in NOx and diesel toxics to protect environmental justice communities’ right to clean air, and to ensuring that California has a strong federal partner in our collective fight to reduce emissions. It is critical that EPA work in close partnership with the California Air Resources Board in building out this effort,”the Senators concluded.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below. 

Dear President Biden, 

We write to urge your administration to swiftly revise the nitrogen oxide (NOx) exhaust emission standards for heavy-duty trucks, which have not been revised in 20 years.

Given your administration’s priority of reducing carbon pollution from the transportation sector to fight the climate crisis, protect clean air, and provide environmental justice to communities, we are concerned that the spring 2021 Uniform Regulatory Agenda did not include the Ultra-Low NOx Emission Standard for Heavy-Duty Trucks in the list of items that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to take regulatory action on this year.

Many California communities, especially in Los Angeles, the San Joaquin Valley, and the Bay Area, are burdened by some of the worst air pollution in the country. Emissions from heavy-duty trucking contribute significantly to NOx in California and threaten many regions’ ability to meet upcoming Clean Air Act requirements for ozone standards. The health consequences from NOx emissions are severe and well-documented, and their impact is felt most acutely in environmental justice communities.

Although these regions have already achieved significant emissions reductions through their decades-long implementation of the most stringent stationary and mobile regulatory control programs in the nation, the EPA acknowledges that numerous states will need to obtain significant NOx emission reductions in order to meet both the 2008 and 2015 ozone standards. Moving forward with the Ultra-Low NOx Emissions Standard for Heavy-Duty Trucks is a critical component for attaining the national ambient air quality standard for ozone. Absent EPA doing so, California risks federal sanctions that threaten our local economy and communities’ right to clean air.

California is committed to adopting and implementing measures to achieve needed reductions of NOx emissions. For instance, last August the California Air Resources Board approved the adoption of NOx emissions standards for new highway heavy-duty trucks that are 90 percent more stringent than the current federal NOx exhaust emission standards. Although those new standards will result in substantial reductions of NOx, it is nevertheless critical that EPA timely adopt the Ultra-Low NOx Emissions Standard for Heavy-Duty Trucks because federally certified heavy-duty trucks are responsible for over half of the total vehicles miles traveled and the emissions generated by heavy-duty trucks in California.

Issuing and implementing this rule expeditiously is critical to achieving reductions in NOx and diesel toxics to protect environmental justice communities’ right to clean air, and to ensuring that California has a strong federal partner in our collective fight to reduce emissions. It is critical that EPA work in close partnership with the California Air Resources Board in building out this effort. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

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