Exhausted by Diesel
How America's Dependence on Diesel Engines Threatens Our Health
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Our nation's dependence on diesel must be reassessed in light of growing scientific evidence that diesel exhaust poses a major health hazard, particularly to children and the elderly. Diesel emissions are comprised of a witch's brew of potent carcinogens, reproductive toxicants, irritants, and other hazardous chemicals. This complex mixture of fine particles and toxic chemicals has been linked to cancer, asthma and other respiratory exacerbations, and premature death. Fortunately, alternatives such as electric, natural gas, and other less polluting fuels are technologically feasible and, in some cases, economically advantageous. The move away from diesel to clean alternatives will take a concerted effort by public and private operators and continued pressure from the people most affected by the health impacts of diesel exhaust.
We strongly recommend the following as an antidote to our nation's dependence on diesel:
- U.S. EPA and CARB must end their "hands off" diesel policy immediately and act quickly to set new stringent standards for heavy duty trucks, buses, trains, marine vessels, construction and agricultural equipment and other diesel vehicles and equipment to expedite the transition toward cleaner alternative fuel vehicles;
- U.S. EPA should apply the Clean Fuel Fleet purchasing requirements of 30, 50 and 70 percent to all centrally-fueled fleets with ten or more vehicles. In this effort, U.S. EPA must not be handcuffed by the inability of diesel technology to meet stringent emission standards and should not allow regions to opt out of this critical program;
- Legislative and municipal bodies should provide financial incentives to operators of diesel vehicles and equipment to encourage them to purchase new alternative fuel vehicles or to retrofit their existing diesel vehicles;
- Public transit agencies and governmental entities should lead the way toward clean fuel vehicles by committing to purchase only alternative fuel buses and other vehicles for their fleets; and
- Private fleet operators should take a major step to protect their workers and local communities by immediately beginning to purchase alternative fuel heavy duty trucks, buses and equipment as part of their fleet.
With a lot of determination, we can make the transition away from the toxic technology of diesel to cleaner fuels. Until then, the health of our urban communities lies in the balance.
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