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Attorney General Bonta Leads Coalition in Urging EPA to Strengthen Regulation of Heavy-Duty Trucks

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today, leading a coalition of 19 attorneys general, urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to impose stronger regulations to address nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and other harmful pollutants from heavy-duty trucks. NOx, a smog-forming pollutant that exacerbates asthma and other health problems, has outsized impacts on communities of color and low-income communities, who disproportionately live near transportation and trade corridors. In today's letter, the coalition urges the EPA to adopt the most stringent option for regulating NOx emissions from heavy-duty trucks. These stronger standards are vital to reduce NOx emissions in environmental justice communities and to help states attain and maintain national ambient air quality standards for ozone and particulate matter.

“Communities who live, work, and go to school near trade and transportation corridors have long borne the brunt of dangerous air pollution from heavy-duty trucks,” said Attorney General Bonta “Everyone deserves to breathe clean air, and in California, we're working to reduce pollution burdens with the strongest standards in the nation regulating NOx emissions from the transportation sector. But we can’t do it alone. The EPA’s proposed standards regulating NOx emissions from heavy-duty trucks are a step in the right direction. California has shown the path forward, and I urge the EPA to follow our lead and to move swiftly to adopt the most stringent version of its proposed standards.”

On-road heavy-duty vehicles are the largest source of transportation-related NOx emissions. Communities of color and low-income communities, who disproportionately live, work, or attend school near railyards, ports, warehouses, and major roadways are most vulnerable to NOx pollution and the resulting health impacts. But while the environmental and health impacts of NOx are well known, today’s heavy-duty trucks do not effectively control NOx emissions, especially when they are at idle, moving slowly, or in stop-and-go traffic. 

In September 2021, the California Air Resources Board established pioneering exhaust emission standards for NOx that are 90% more stringent than currently applicable federal heavy-duty NOx emission standards. These NOx reductions, which are equivalent to taking 16 million light-duty cars off the road, are expected to prevent roughly 3,900 premature deaths and 3,150 hospitalizations statewide.  

Last year, Attorney General Bonta, leading a similar coalition, urged the EPA to adopt robust federal NOx standards similar to California's NOx standards. Now, for the first time in almost 20 years, the EPA is proposing more stringent NOx standards for heavy-duty trucks.  

In today's letter, the attorneys general urge the EPA to adopt the most stringent option in its proposal, which would implement stronger NOx standards in a two-step approach: first, increasing stringency in model year 2027, and then increasing stringency again for model year 2031. If adopted, these standards would align federal standards more closely with California's NOx standards. As California has shown, stronger standards are not only good for the environment and public health, but technologically feasible and cost-effective. 

Attorney General Bonta is joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin in filing the letter.

A copy of the letter can be found here.