Cutting pollution from trucks a smart move for North Carolinians
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.— The Southern Environmental Law Center welcomed Governor Roy Cooper’s announcement today to press forward with a wide-ranging initiative to cut pollution from medium and heavy-duty trucks as an exciting move for North Carolinians. Transportation is the leading contributor to climate-changing pollution in our state. While medium and heavy-duty vehicles are only 6.5% of the vehicles on the road in North Carolina, they contribute almost 34.5% of transportation heat-trapping gas emissions, 71.2% of pollution from nitrogen oxides, and 54.57% of direct fine particulate matter pollution, which are all linked to serious health harms. Trucking facilities are often adjacent to historically marginalized communities, putting the health of those who can least afford it at risk.
“Governor Cooper’s executive order directing DEQ to craft an Advanced Clean Trucks program for North Carolina is an important, forward-thinking step to address climate change, the health of our communities, and environmental justice,” said Kym Meyer, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Reducing the pollution from medium and heavy-duty trucks that poisons the air we breathe in North Carolina and contributes to climate change is essential to protecting people’s health and our communities. We are thrilled to see North Carolina leading the national transition to cleaner and more affordable vehicles. The move will more quickly benefit North Carolinians with more vehicle choices in the marketplace, less volatile fuel prices, and cleaner, healthier air.”
SELC has worked with a broad coalition of groups over the past year to urge Governor Cooper’s administration to move forward with an Advanced Clean Trucks rule in North Carolina, In August of 2022, the groups sent a letter to Governor Cooper outlining the benefits of program. Reducing levels of pollutants like nitrogen oxides and fine particulate matter in the air is associated with reduced incidences of mortality, infant mortality, non-fatal heart attacks, cardiovascular hospital emissions, emergency room visits for asthma, and lost workdays. Because diesel traffic is a dominant driver of disparities in health outcomes associated with air pollution, with disproportionate impact all too often in low-income communities and communities of color, targeting this source of pollution will further environmental justice.
In addition to reducing harmful pollution in North Carolina, an analysis from Research Triangle Institute International showed that an Advanced Clean Trucks program will bring billions of dollars in cost savings to the state in health and climate benefits between 2020 and 2050 amounting to well over $100 billion, and potentially much higher with additional fuel cost savings.