Letter to Hon. Michael S. Regan, Administrator for the EPA - Barragán and Booker Urge EPA to Strengthen Standards for Freight Pollution Sources


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[1] and another 45 million live and attend school within 300 feet of the highway and rail corridors used to move freight.[2] 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.