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OAKLAND, October 26, 2021 – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today led a multistate coalition in urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to swiftly adopt strong regulations limiting oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions 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 the letter, the coalition argues that robust federal NOx standards – similar to California’s NOx standards – for model year 2027 on-road heavy-duty engines and vehicles are vitally needed to improve air quality and protect our most vulnerable communities.

“Where you live should not determine the quality of the air you breathe – but that’s the reality for far too many Californians across the state who are bearing the brunt of trade- and transportation-related pollution and suffering the resulting health consequences,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Nationwide standards limiting NOx emissions from heavy-duty trucks are an essential component of any plan to improve air quality and protect public health. California has already shown the path forward, but we can’t do this alone. It’s going to take all of us, doing our part, to protect those communities who live at the intersection of poverty and pollution.”

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 August 2020, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) established pioneering exhaust emission standards for NOx that are nearly twice as stringent than the currently applicable California and 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 result in roughly 3,900 avoided premature deaths and 3,150 avoided hospitalizations statewide. California’s standards show that reducing NOx emissions is not only good for the environment and public health, but technologically feasible and cost-effective. However, while California’s standards are crucial to reducing NOx pollution in California, state regulation alone is not enough. In today’s letter, the coalition argues equally strong federal standards are urgently needed nationwide to protect our air and our environmental justice communities.

Attorney General Bonta has pushed the Biden Administration to reduce emissions from the transportation sector. This summer, Attorney General Bonta testified, and later submitted comments, urging the EPA to restore California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act for its GHG and zero emission vehicle standards. The Attorney General and CARB also led a coalition in urging NHTSA to repeal a Trump-era rule, known as the “Preemption Rule,” that purported to preempt California’s GHG and zero-emission-vehicles standards. In September, Attorney General Bonta and New York Attorney General Letitia James led a multistate coalition in urging NHTSA to restore penalties for automakers that failed to meet CAFE standards for model year 2019-2021 vehicles. Most recently, Attorney General Bonta led multistate comments urging the EPA to adopt more stringent GHG standards for passenger cars and light trucks. 

Attorney General Bonta is joined by the attorneys general of Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, as well as the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, in sending the letter. 

A copy of the letter can be found here.