Updated clean air standards to cut smog-forming truck emissions

by Shannon Kelleher

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its clean air standards for heavy-duty vehicles for the first time in more than 20 years.

The updated standards, which will go into effect in 2027, are designed to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from the tailpipes of large trucks. NOx reacts with other compounds in the air to form ozone pollution, contributing to more than 60,000 deaths in the US each year. The new standards are about 80% stronger than those they replace.

The December 20 announcement came the same day the US Postal Service revealed a five-year plan to transition towards using electric delivery vehicles.

The EPA estimates that by 2045, the updated clean air standards will result in up to 2,900 fewer premature deaths, 6,700 fewer hospital and emergency room visits, and 18,000 fewer cases of childhood asthma each year.

“EPA is taking significant action to protect public health, especially the health of 72 million people living near truck freight routes in America, including our most vulnerable populations in historically overburdened communities,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan in a press release on Tuesday.

The rule will also require emissions warranties that are 2.8 to 4.5 longer than those currently in place, meaning trucks will need to meet emissions standards for a greater period of time as they age. Additionally, companies will be required to test trucks and send data to the EPA annually, and the EPA will pull trucks from the road and test them to see if they meet the standards.