Biden’s opportunity to end diesel pollution of port communities

Government, business and media attention continues to focus on the pandemic-exacerbated supply chain shortages that prompted the Biden administration to seek 24/7 operation of the country’s ports. . Forgotten, as is often the case with environmental justice issues, are the likely health consequences for Black, Brown, Native, and Asian American communities living near the ports, roads, railroads, and warehouses that make up the country’s freight system.

As scientists, doctors and public health experts have known for decades, diesel exhaust from trucks, trains and ships transporting goods to and from these seaports and inland ports causes serious illnesses. and premature deaths – aggravated asthma, lung cancer, heart disease and neurological disorders. A doctor who has treated patients for years near one of the country’s largest port complexes – has called the area a “diesel death zone”.

It should be incumbent on the Biden administration, given its oft-stated commitment to put environmental justice at the center of its reform priorities, to effectively address the dilemma: how to combat supply chain-induced inflation at from congested ports while protecting against increased health hazards associated with increased port traffic. The obvious answer is to dramatically accelerate the use of zero-emissions equipment – ​​from ships entering ports, to cargo-handling vehicles at docks, to rail terminals and heavy trucks transporting goods to communities everywhere. the country. The technology has now proven itself.

To apply President BidenJoe BidenJan. 6 defendant asks to subpoena Trump as witness in On The Money trial – Breaking the January jobs boom Pics of the Week: Joe Biden, Punxsutawney Phil and Sarah Palin MOREThrough ‘s whole-of-government approach, by quickly requiring and supporting the use of non-polluting equipment such as trucks, locomotives and ships, we could prevent continued harm to environmental justice communities.

Specifically right now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the option of adopting a tough heavy-duty rule that the agency is reviewing this year. If the White House and EPA truly prioritize environmental justice, this truck rule would ensure that truck emissions would quickly be reduced to zero, while requiring that by 2035, 100% of trucks sold be zero-emission vehicles.

Fifteen States have already recognized the importance of moving forward in the face of inaction. They signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): “A commitment to develop action plans to eradicate toxic diesel emissions by 2050”. This is a welcome development, even if its timetable needs to be accelerated considerably. The transition to universal use of electric vehicles is no longer a technological problem. This requires political will and an appropriate sense of urgency. The time frame for action to limit the damage caused by climate change is short, but it is much shorter for the communities adjacent to the port which, at the moment, face the prospect of hyper-accelerating rates of severe illness and premature deaths.

Over the past decade at least, a great deal of scientific and public health data has emerged, along with news stories documenting the damage that continues to plague all who live with daily exposure to truck exhaust. We also have research from the trucking industry that shows electric trucks remove massive amounts of CO2 and, by inference, diesel fumes. According to North American Council for Freight Efficiencyhis “real-world study of 13 electric trucks delivering goods across North America found that if all US and Canadian medium and heavy trucks went electric, approximately 100 million metric tons of CO2 would be avoided in the atmosphere”.

A study commissioned by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that toxic emissions of nitrogen oxide and fine particulate matter (FPM) from trucks would be significantly reduced in New Jersey, which is home to the second largest port complex in the country. Electric trucks could prevent 136,000 illnesses and save New Jersey residents $11.6 billion.

Right now, we are in an environmental, public health, and economic crisis that demands executive action. We need Biden to show leadership and lead the EPA, to put in place workable policies and programs in the freight industry starting with a tough heavy-duty rule. On October 26, a national coalition of environmental justice organizations, the Moving Forward Network, provided the EPA with recommendations for the freight sector that the Agency should take.

Failure to act will impose huge public health costs on low-income communities of color – more illness and death from increased exposure to toxic pollution – as the nation struggles to weather the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. 19. We have an administration that claims to get it. Now they have to act accordingly.

Angelo Logan is the Director of Policy and Campaigns for the Moving Forward Network, a national environmental justice coalition for communities bordering seaports and inland ports.

Comments are closed.