Quantcast

Surprise! This EPA Move ‘Will Actually Reduce Air Pollution!’

Popular
5m3photos / iStock / Getty Images Plus

After two years of scandals and deregulatory schemes that rival the machinations of Captain Planet villains, we thought we were immune to being shocked by the actions of Trump's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But the agency has managed to genuinely surprise us—by doing something that could actually benefit the environment.


On Tuesday, acting administrator Andrew Wheeler announced plans to reduce pollution from heavy-duty trucks, launching a Cleaner Trucks Initiative to cut back toxic nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

The announcement won the agency rare praise from environmental and public health groups, The Washington Post reported.

"This is a positive step and may be the first thing this EPA has done that will actually reduce air pollution," American Lung Association Senior Vice President for Public Policy Paul Billings told The Washington Post.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB), which has reason to mistrust this EPA due to its plans to weaken the fuel efficiency standards California has championed, also saw Tuesday's announcement as a positive development.

"It's good that they are moving forward, because heavy-duty NOx is a huge problem, both as a precursor to ozone and fine particles," CARB spokesperson Stanley Young told The Washington Post in an email. "CARB petitioned EPA to begin this process, as have many other state and local agencies, so we are pleased that the agency is moving forward to address the next generation of new heavy-duty engines."

The EPA last updated its NOx standards in 2001, the agency said, so many felt a new push was long overdue. Twenty state and local regulators asked the Obama EPA to update the standards two years ago, and the agency agreed. Tuesday's announcement makes reducing NOx emissions the rare Obama-era commitment the agency has actually moved to honor.

"The U.S. has made major reductions in NOx emissions, but it's been nearly 20 years since EPA updated these standards. Through rulemaking and a comprehensive review of existing requirements, we will capitalize on these gains and incentivize new technologies to ensure our heavy-duty trucks are clean and remain a competitive method of transportation," Wheeler said.

This doesn't mean the agency has seen the light when it comes to the need for regulations to protect the environment. At the same time as he announced the initiative in a call with reporters, Wheeler bragged about the more than two dozen rollbacks Trump's EPA had set in motion, The Washington Post reported.

And there's a chance that the final proposal on NOx emissions―which probably won't be released until 2020―could sneak in some deregulations as well. This language from the EPA announcement is not encouraging:

In addition to NOx emissions standards, the CTI will cut unnecessary red tape while simplifying certification of compliance requirements for heavy-duty trucks and engines. Areas of deregulatory focus will include onboard diagnostic requirements, cost-effective means of reassuring real world compliance by using modern and advanced technologies, the deterioration factor testing process, and concerns regarding annual recertification of engine families.

Still, it's a welcome surprise to hear that Wheeler told reporters that the EPA was doing something "because it's good for the environment."

For the first time in two years, the agency has made a move towards doing its job.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed by the Camp Fire on Nov. 15, 2018 in Paradise, Calif. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Respecting scientists has never been a priority for the Trump Administration. Now, a new investigation from The Guardian revealed that Department of the Interior political appointees sought to play up carbon emissions from California's wildfires while hiding emissions from fossil fuels as a way to encourage more logging in the national forests controlled by the Interior department.

Read More
Slowing deforestation, planting more trees, and cutting emissions of non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases like methane could cut another 0.5 degrees C or more off global warming by 2100. South_agency / E+ / Getty Images

By Dana Nuccitelli

Killer hurricanes, devastating wildfires, melting glaciers, and sunny-day flooding in more and more coastal areas around the world have birthed a fatalistic view cleverly dubbed by Mary Annaïse Heglar of the Natural Resources Defense Council as "de-nihilism." One manifestation: An increasing number of people appear to have grown doubtful about the possibility of staving-off climate disaster. However, a new interactive tool from a climate think tank and MIT Sloan shows that humanity could still meet the goals of the Paris agreement and limit global warming.

Read More
Sponsored
A baby burrowing owl perched outside its burrow on Marco Island, Florida. LagunaticPhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Burrowing owls, which make their homes in small holes in the ground, are having a rough time in Florida. That's why Marco Island on the Gulf Coast passed a resolution to pay residents $250 to start an owl burrow in their front yard, as the Marco Eagle reported.

Read More
Amazon and other tech employees participate in the Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice continue to protest today. Karen Ducey / Getty Images

Hundreds of Amazon workers publicly criticized the company's climate policies Sunday, showing open defiance of the company following its threats earlier this month to fire workers who speak out on climate change.

Read More
Locusts swarm from ground vegetation as people approach at Lerata village, near Archers Post in Samburu county, approximately 186 miles north of Nairobi, Kenya on Jan. 22. "Ravenous swarms" of desert locusts in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia threaten to ravage the entire East Africa subregion, the UN warned on Jan. 20. TONY KARUMBA / AFP / Getty Images

East Africa is facing its worst locust infestation in decades, and the climate crisis is partly to blame.

Read More