Every fall marks the beginning of a new school year. Children gather around the school bus stop with their backpacks overloaded with notebooks, pencils, and lunchboxes, their guardians waiting with them in the brisk fall mornings for the big yellow school bus to roll down the neighborhood, prepared to bring the next generation of Marylanders to school.
In our complex world, the last thing our children should worry about is whether the bus that takes them to school is bad for their health. That’s why Maryland LCV and our Chispa Maryland program are striving for clean, electric school buses for Maryland schoolchildren and the Clean Truck Rule.
This shift towards cleaner transportation is especially critical for low-income areas and communities of color. Individuals living within 500 feet of a highway are exposed to higher levels of pollution generated by medium and heavy-duty trucks. Anywhere from 3.8 – 5.6% (~325,000 people) of Marylanders live near a highway, ranking among the highest in the nation. A 2019 article by Union of Concerned Scientists revealed that black Marylanders are exposed to particulate matter pollution at rates 12% higher, and Latinos 11% higher, than the state average.
In Maryland – where transportation is the single largest contributor to GHG emissions and a high proportion of people live near major highways and trucking lanes – on-road diesel (the main fuel for medium and heavy-duty vehicles) accounts for 20% of the pollution from the transportation sector. Heavy-duty trucks are also responsible for dangerous atmospheric pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, ground-level ozone, and PM 2.5, as well as over 40 known carcinogens.
The Clean Truck Rule aims to solve this by equitable implementation of the necessary infrastructure. Reducing emissions from the trucking industry is an essential piece of reaching emissions reductions goals in Maryland’s landmark 2022 Climate Solutions Now Act. It’s also vital for promoting health and welfare, especially for those who have been disproportionately impacted by air and noise pollution from the industry.
The Clean Truck Rule will be implemented slowly and is designed to encourage the trucking industry to develop better electric vehicle models and to guarantee the ongoing development and integration of the necessary infrastructure within Maryland’s transportation system. Increasing the percentage of electric vehicles in truck fleets would also complement EPA regulations in place to decrease emissions.
While the initial up-front costs for electric trucks are greater than diesel engine vehicles, projected fueling and maintenance costs are comparatively lower over their lifespan, resulting in savings over time for companies that adopt the transition to electric trucks.
It’s time for us to stand up for Maryland’s children and the next generation of leaders- it’s time to pass the Clean Truck Rule.