Letter highlights importance of updating standards for environmental justice communities
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 21, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán and Senator Cory Booker led 48 of their colleagues in encouraging the Environmental Protection Agency to update technology standards for freight-related sources of pollution to address the high levels of air pollution in communities surrounding our nation’s freight shipping facilities and freight transportation corridors.
In a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, Barragán, Booker and their colleagues also request information regarding EPA’s regulatory schedule for updating freight-related emissions standards, technology assessments for mobile and non-mobile freight sources, and opportunities available to streamline rulemaking to update several emissions standards by 2025.
“We appreciate the EPA’s demonstrated commitment to combatting environmental racism and advancing equal access to clean air, land and water. We specifically applaud the steps the EPA has taken to set criteria pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. We encourage you to expand these efforts to include other freight sources, including locomotives, ocean-going vessels, and aircraft,” the members of Congress wrote.
In the 10-20 years since the EPA has updated emissions standards for mobile and non-mobile freight-related emissions sources, new control technologies have become available, including zero-emissions and electric options. There are significant opportunities for reducing toxic air pollution in environmental justice communities while addressing the climate crisis.
Congresswoman Barragán and Senator Booker were joined on the letter by Congressmembers Alan Lowenthal (Calif.), Adriano Espaillat (N.Y.), Emmanuel Cleaver (Mo.), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), Bobby Rush (Ill.), Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.), Grace Napolitano (Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Doris Matsui (Calif.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Karen Bass (Calif.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Jimmy Gomez (Calif.), Sean Casten (Ill.), Jared Huffman (Calif.), Frederica Wilson (Fla.), Jesús “Chuy” García (Ill.), Linda Sánchez (Calif.), Adam Smith (Wash.), Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.), Donald Payne (N.J.), Mike Quigley (Ill.), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (Ga.), Ro Khanna (Calif.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (Del.), Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) Ted Lieu (Calif.), Brenda Lawrence (Mich.), Veronica Escobar (Texas), Mark DeSaulnier (Calif.), Betty McCollum (Minn.), Janice Schakowsky (Ill.), Judy Chu (Calif.), A. Donald McEachin (Va.), Madeleine Dean (Pa.), Jerry McNerney (Calif.), Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (N.Y.), and Marie Newman (Ill.), and Senators Richard Durbin (Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Edward J. Markey (Mass.), Christopher Murphy (Conn.), Alex Padilla (Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Bernard Sanders (Vt.).
The letter was also supported by the following environmental and health organizations: EarthJustice, GreenLatinos, Pacific Environment, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, American Lung Association, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
A PDF of the letter is here and full text is below:
Dear Administrator Regan:
We write to inquire about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plans to address the high levels of air pollution in the communities surrounding our nation’s freight shipping facilities and freight transportation corridors, and to urge you to strengthen emissions standards for pollution sources involved in the freight transportation system.
As you may know, 13 million people live near marine ports and rail yards and another 45 million live and attend school within 300 feet of the highway and rail corridors used to move freight. Unfortunately, those who are in the direct vicinity of the freight movement network are exposed to high volumes of air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, and these exposures are linked to serious health problems, including asthma, lung, and heart disease. This is an environmental justice issue, given that these freight-adjacent communities disproportionately include low-income people and people of color.
We appreciate the EPA’s demonstrated commitment to combatting environmental racism and advancing equal access to clean air, land, and water. We specifically applaud the steps the EPA has taken to set criteria pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. We encourage you to expand these efforts to include other freight sources, including locomotives, ocean-going vessels, and aircraft.
These mobile sources of pollution are particularly important to address, given the EPA’s sole authority to set new emission standards for them. Congress directed the EPA to continue to review and revise the emission standards for these sources and, generally, to ensure that standards generally reflected state of the art technologies. See, e.g., 42 U.S.C. §§ 7521(a)(3)(A) (trucks), 7547(a)(3) (nonroad, including OGVs), 7547(a)(5) (locomotives), 7571(a)(2) (aircraft). In the 10-20 years since the EPA updated emissions standards, new control technologies have emerged, including affordable options for electrifying many of these vehicles and eliminating emissions altogether.
For these reasons, we urge you to update emissions standards for freight-related mobile sources, specifically locomotives, ocean-going vessels, medium- and heavy-duty trucks, non-road diesel engines, and aircraft. We wish to partner with you to identify and reduce barriers to quickly advance this effort with the goal of completing the relevant rulemaking procedures by 2025. To that end, we respectfully request that you provide us with answers to the following questions:
- What is the EPA’s regulatory schedule for updating emissions standards for freight-related mobile sources?
- What is the EPA’s regulatory schedule for updating emissions standards for other freight-related emissions, including non-mobile sources such as cargo handling equipment and harbor craft?
- What work, if any, is being done on updating emissions standards for freight-related mobile sources?
- When did the EPA last conduct technology assessments for freight-related mobile sources?
- What is the latest emission inventory and risk assessment data that the EPA has collected for each freight-related mobile source?
- What opportunities are available to streamline rulemaking by addressing multiple pollution source categories together, as the EPA has done in the past?
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. We look forward to reviewing your responses and working with you to achieve the important goals of advancing environmental justice, protecting public health, and ensuring the right to clean air along freight movement hubs and corridors.
Nanette Diaz Barragán is proud to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington. She serves as chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Border Security.
 US EPA, Office of Transportation and Air Quality. “Regulatory Impact Analysis: Control of Emissions of Air Pollution from Locomotive Engines and Marine Compression Ignition Engines Less than 30 Liters Per Cylinder.” at 2-57 (May 2008) https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi/P10024CN.PDF?Dockey=P10024CN.PDF.
 See EPA, “Near Roadway Air Pollution and Health: Frequently Asked Questions” (Aug. 2014) (available at:https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2015-11/documents/420f14044_0.pdf).