WASHINGTON [Reuters] – The Trump administration on Monday took the first step towards stricter control of truck pollution, an anomalous move for a government known to weaken environmental policies but would prevent tougher state rules.
Andrew Wheeler, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has initiated the legal and regulatory process to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions on highways, which are linked to asthma and other respiratory diseases.
While the move may give President Trump a nominal environmental achievement for the 2020 campaign, public health experts say truck regulations are not as out of line with management policy as they would seem. The emerging rule is likely to limit nitrogen dioxide pollution more than current standards, they say, but falls far short of what is needed to significantly prevent respiratory disease and even premature death.
Instead, the government appears to be fulfilling the wishes of the truck industry, which required new national nitrogen dioxide regulations to replace states that could implement their own stricter rules. On this front, the E.P.A. The rule is likely to open a new battle in Trump's long war with California over environmental regulations and state rights. California is already moving forward with state nitrogen dioxide pollution standards that can be replicated by other states.
"A strong and resilient truck industry is imperative to maintain a strong and resilient economy," Wheeler said Monday morning at a cattle exchange in Marshall, Virginia, surrounded by truck lobby leaders. "With this initiative, we will modernize heavy-duty truck engines, improving their efficiency and reducing their emissions, which will lead to a healthier environment."
Paul Billings, senior vice president of the American Lung Association, said no one from his group or from other major environmental or health groups was invited to the event, although the Lung Association led the lobby to limit nitrogen dioxide from trucks.
"Trucks remain the main source of pollution that creates pollution, and pollution is linked to coughing and wheezing and can cause asthma and premature death," he said.
The opening of the regulatory process is in line with Trump's efforts to walk the environment. Polls show that independent voters in the 1920s and 1930s are increasingly concerned about environmental issues, and even as the president celebrates his twists on environmental rules, he insisted that he believes in a clean environment, often citing his desire for “clean, crystalline air. " and water."
The current rule of E.P.A. Nitrogen dioxide pollution from heavy duty trucks created in 2001 required trucks to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions by 95% in 10 years. The rule contributed to a 40% drop in national nitrogen dioxide emissions.
Although the law does not require the agency to update the rule, E.P.A. The Obama administration began to examine a stricter standard after several states and public health organizations such as the American Lung Association asked to reduce emissions by another 90% by 2025.
Over the past two years, California has begun the legal process to make these cuts. This led the trucking industry to pressure E.P.A. come up with a new rule that would be much more flexible, imposing emission cuts of 25% to 50%.
The legal measure adopted on Monday by the E.P.A. begin drafting such rules, soliciting comments and input from the public of states, industry groups, and health and environmental advocates.
Truck industry leaders said they were confident their concerns would be taken into account.
"Serious problems with the previous rules have made small business truck drivers justifiably cautious about new emissions reduction proposals," said Todd Spencer, chairman of the Lobbying Independent Drivers Association, a lobbying group. “However, last year, representatives of the E.P.A. We strive to understand how new policies may affect our members, which was not standard practice in previous administrations. "
The fact that the 2001 rule to cut emissions by 95% still allows trucks to emit hazardous levels of pollutant "shows how dirty the trucks were before that rule," said Billings of the Lung Association. "Now it's 20 years later. Technology has improved. People are still getting sick. We can do better.
Although his group was not invited to Monday's announcement, Billings said, "We would like to have the opportunity to work with the agency to see the adoption of the strongest and most protective rule of health."
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