Photo: Public domain
Other Truck Fleets, Pay Attention
Did you know that replacing a pre-1994 diesel truck (or at least the engine) with a 2004-2006 model could cut soot pollution by about 2/3, and reduce smog-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions by more than half? Post 2007 diesel trucks are even better, with a reduction of soot particles by about 95% and NOx by at least 3/4. That's a pretty big difference (though it doesn't solve CO2 emissions), and it especially matters in big ports where countless diesel trucks congregate every day. This is why the EPA along with partners are announcing a program to replace the dirtiest trucks servicing the port of NY/NJ.The EPA writes:
Leading the way to cleaner air and healthier communities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ) unveiled a comprehensive agreement that will cut harmful pollution from the east coast's busiest port. The states launched a $28 million truck replacement program, partially funded by $7 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which will replace old trucks with vehicles that meet stricter pollution standards. [...]
The truck replacement program will replace about 600 model year 1993 and older trucks with cleaner, 2004 and newer trucks. [...] Under the program, the PANYNJ will cover 25% of trucker's costs for newer trucks [with a low-interest loan for the rest]. PANYNJ also plans to phase out additional older trucks serving the port as part of a broader strategy to reduce diesel emissions from their operations. Their phase out program consists of 2 steps: a ban on pre-1994 trucks beginning January 1, 2011 and a ban on pre-2007 trucks beginning January 1, 2017.
Considering that there are more than 3 million truck trips to and from the port each year, emitting around 2,000 tons of nitrogen oxide and 55 tons of fine particle pollution, it's about time something is done. Air pollution has been shown to increase risks for heart disease and asthma, and it's certainly not good for the health of any living thing in general (except maybe for certain types of bacteria that have evolved to eat the stuff, but let's not split hair).
But why stop at ports, though? Most states should progressively phase out older diesel engines. The recent EPA diesel emission standards and all good and well, but if people keep extremely polluting old trucks on the road for 30 years, progress will be slow.
Another good idea is to bring rail all the way to ports. This is already happening at the NY/NJ port (it's a $600 million project), but other ports that have no rail access and depend on diesel trucks should probably look into it.
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