Clean Truck Initiatives Hit The Road In Texas And Make A Personal Impact

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Courtesy of Juan Manuel Salazar

The following story about the clean truck program in Houston appears in the Fall 2013 issue of EDF’s Solutions newsletter. As we have highlighted before, ports are hotspots for air pollution and the best way to mitigate emissions from ships, trucks and other transportation equipment is to engage key stakeholders and find common sense solutions that provide access to cleaner, more efficient technologies. Below is a success story from Houston: Since the H-GAC Drayage Loan Program began in 2010, it has replaced almost 200 of the oldest, most polluting trucks with newer, cleaner ones. 

When Juan Manuel Salazar was hauling industrial materials all over Houston in his 1989 International truck, his two daughters worried. “They were concerned about me driving all day, then working half the night to fix the truck,” Salazar says. So it was no surprise that, as an owner-operator, Salazar jumped to qualify for a combined grant and low-interest loan program tailored by EDF and its partners such as the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC). Salazar invested in a cleaner 2012 Kenworth truck that uses less gas and goes farther without problems. “My daughters convinced me,” he says.

A few years before, an emissions inventory found that one-third of the toxic air pollution at the Port of Houston was spewed out by its 3,000-truck drayage fleet. The result was the loan program. Since its creation, almost 200 trucks in Houston have been updated.

Along with the Coalition for Responsible Transportation and EPA, EDF also forged partnerships between drayage carriers and retail shippers. Under EPA’s SmartWay Drayage Program, companies including Target, Best Buy, Hewlett Packard, Home Depot and Walmart agreed to work with SmartWay truckers who track emissions, replace older, dirtier trucks with newer, cleaner ones and, within three years, achieve at least a 50 percent reduction in soot and a 25 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides below the industry average. Shippers commit to ship 75 percent of their port cargo with SmartWay drayage carriers within three years.

With more ports, including Charleston, Baltimore and Philadelphia, adopting clean truck initiatives, Lowe’s recently committed to using 100 percent SmartWay carriers. EDF health scientist and head of the ports’ initiative Dr. Elena Craft said, “We are very excited to see this work taking off. It has the potential to make a big impact on air quality and public health throughout the country.”

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