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Biden administration finalizes rule cutting truck pollution 

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The offices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.

The Biden administration on Tuesday announced it had finalized a rule that’s expected to cut a significant amount of harmful pollution from heavy-duty trucks, though environmental groups say the administration should be doing even more. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it had finalized a rule that restricts the release of a group of pollutants known as nitrogen oxides. 

Short-term exposure to these pollutants can worsen respiratory health conditions like asthma, while long-term exposure can contribute to the development of asthma and respiratory infections.

Nitrogen oxides are also components of acid rain that can harm the environment. 

The EPA said Tuesday that its final rule is expected to result in up to 2,900 fewer premature deaths by 2045. It’s also expected to result in 18,000 fewer cases of childhood asthma.

While the move — the first update in 20 years to nitrogen oxide rules — is expected to have major benefits, environmentalists said the agency did not go far enough. 

Yasmine Agelidis, an attorney on Earthjustice’s Right to Zero campaign, told The Hill in a written statement that the EPA’s rule “misses the moment, and is expected to merely follow the market changes.”

Britt Carmon, a senior advocate for federal clean vehicles and fuels at the Natural Resources Defense Council, similarly called for an explicit mandate for electric vehicles. 

She told The Hill that adding such a provision would make sure “we’re incentivizing the cleanest technology to be on the road.”

The rule is weaker than a standard the agency was considering earlier this year, which would have cut this type of pollution from trucks by as much as 60 percent in 2045. 

Under the final rule, these emissions are expected to be nearly 50 percent lower than they would be if the agency didn’t make any changes. 

Annual costs to comply with the rule are expected to range between $3.9 billion in 2027 to $4.7 billion in 2045, the agency estimated.

A key industry group, meanwhile, indicated the standard will be difficult to meet. 

Jed Mandel, president of the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association, said in a written statement that the rule “is very stringent and will be challenging to implement.”

“Ultimately, the success or failure of this rule hinges on the willingness and ability of trucking fleets to invest in purchasing the new technology to replace their older, higher-emitting vehicles,” Mandel said. 

The rule also differed from what the agency proposed earlier this year because it left out a portion of the rule that would have restricted the emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from these kinds of vehicles.

The EPA is expected to propose a separate climate rule by the end of March 2023.

Agelidis, with Earthjustice, said in her statement that the forthcoming greenhouse gas rule gives the EPA a second shot at making the change environmentalists want to see: electrification. 

“EPA can make up for this lost opportunity with an ambitious truck standard in 2023 that spurs a shift to zero emissions trucks. Cleaner combustion isn’t the answer – it’s time to move past tailpipes altogether to truly deliver the clean air we need across the country,” she said. 

Updated at 11:06 a.m.

Tags Biden Earthjustice EPA trucking industry

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