Efforts to address transportation pollution ramp up as EPA strengthens federal “Clean Car Standards”and other states adopt strong truck rules
Transportation pollution is a threat to our climate and our health, and disproportionately impacts Black, Brown and low income communities. In Connecticut, the transportation sector accounts for 37.4% of greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to poor air quality in our state which is connected to acute and chronic respiratory problems such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and other lung diseases.
Recent actions in other states and on the federal level are encouraging, and it is time for Connecticut to take action too!
On the Federal level, the EPA strengthened Federal Clean Car Standards
In September, we reported on the opportunity to take action for stronger clean car standards from the Biden Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Over 25,000 Sierra Club advocates nationwide sent messages to the EPA. In total, the EPA received over 200,000 messages urging the Clean Car rule be strengthened and drop automaker loopholes in the final rule in order to act on climate action, racial justice, and public health. Additionally, 21 state attorneys general (including Connecticut Attorney General William Tong), the District of Columbia, and six cities urged the EPA to strengthen its rule.
Thank you to everyone here in our state who spoke up! You helped push the EPA to pass an even stronger clean cars rule!
Here’s what happened: On December 20, 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its final rule. The new rule restores and strengthens the stringency for model years 2023 through 2026 for cars and light-duty trucks, including making important changes to improve on its initial proposal from August. This didn’t happen in a vacuum – our advocacy made a huge difference in getting a stronger final rule!
What’s next? Now the EPA is working on the next set of standards for model year 2027 through 2035. Watch for opportunities to advocate for the strongest standards that will electrify all new cars and light-duty trucks by 2035.
Other States move to adopt medium and heavy duty truck standards
While the EPA took this important step to address cars and light duty trucks, states across the nation are tackling the problem of pollution from medium and heavy duty trucks. Medium and heavy duty vehicles disproportionately contribute to NOx, CO2, and PM 2.5. While they only make up 6% of the vehicles on the road in Connecticut, medium and heavy duty vehicles emit 25% of the greenhouse gas emissions, 53% of the NOx emissions, and 45% of the PM emissions.
Six states, representing 20 percent of the entire truck market, so far, have adopted the Advanced Clean Trucks Rule, which requires manufacturers to sell and deliver an increasing annual percentage of pollution-free, zero-emission trucks beginning in 2025 and requires 40 to 75 percent new zero-emission truck sales by 2035. The rule was first adopted in California and is now fully adopted in 5 other states: Washington, Oregon, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Massachusetts and Oregon also adopted the Heavy-Duty Omnibus Rule, also referred to as the NOx Omnibus Rule. This rule regulates NOx and PM 2.5 emissions and requires an additional 75 percent reduction in NOx emissions from the engines in new gasoline and diesel trucks sold between model year 2025 and 2026 and a 90 percent reduction for trucks sold beginning in the 2027 model year.
A recent report from the NRDC and Union of Concerned Scientists shows that adoption of the Advanced Clean Truck Rule and the Heavy-Duty Omnibus Rule in Connecticut would slash greenhouse gas, NOx, and PM emissions, which would save lives and improve health.
In 2021, the Connecticut legislature considered a bill to adopt these rules, but it did not pass both chambers. Tell your legislators to pass this important bill in 2022!
Samantha Dynowski is State Director of Sierra Club Connecticut.