The road less polluted: Electric trucks can steer US toward environmental justice
(ACEEE blog, 11 Dec 2023) Recent studies underscore the disproportionate impacts of diesel truck emissions in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods. Policymakers should help speed the transition to electric models to protect human health.
The market for electric trucks is growing and recent and pending regulations could boost this transition dramatically, particularly if the proposed EPA truck emissions rule is strengthened. While the greenhouse gas reduction benefits of electric trucks are substantial, an array of recent studies shine new light on the health and environmental justice benefits.
Replacing diesel trucks with electric trucks will mostly eliminate their emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and fine particulate matter, which adversely affect human health. These benefits will be most significant where truck routes are commonly situated—in neighborhoods with people of color and low-income residents.
Trucks have significant emissions of pollutants that harm health
Research by the American Lung Association has found that trucks (medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, including buses) represent approximately 6% of the on-road vehicle fleet as of 2020, but generate 59% of on-road vehicle NOx emissions and 55% of particle pollution. As noted by the EPA, NOx and fine particle pollution can affect the lungs and heart, contributing to respiratory diseases such as asthma and heart problems.