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Join our work today to help us build a thriving and just clean energy future. 

Charging Forward: The Ultimate Guide for Cutting Transportation Pollution

Clean cars, trucks, and trains are a solution to decades-long transportation pollution. Step-by-step, here's how we clean up our air, better our health, and protect our planet.

Est. reading time: 6 minutes


What You Will Learn in This Guide

Updated March 29, 2024

This guide breaks down everything you need to know about the relationship between transportation pollution, climate, and health—and what we can do about it. You can use it to get a brief overview of what’s happening or dive deeper into any of the explainers. Click on the links below to navigate between different sections.

  1. Why Cutting Transportation Pollution Matters
  2. How We Cut Pollution from Cars, Small Trucks, and SUVs 
  3. How We Cut Pollution from Large Trucks, Buses, and Trains
  4. How We Build Charging Infrastructure for Electric Trucks
  5. Why the Future of the Auto Industry Will Be Unionized
  6. How We Make Trains a Climate Solution
  7. How We Cut Transportation Pollution Disproportionately Impacting Communities of Color
  8. How States Can Cut Transportation Pollution and Create Jobs
  9. How to Stay in the Loop



Why Does Cutting Transportation Pollution Matter?

Transportation is the most polluting sector in the U.S. Decarbonizing the cars, trucks, and trains we rely on is our opportunity to ensure we build the future of the American auto industry while cleaning up our air, improving public health, and tackling the climate crisis.

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Not all forms of transportation pollute in the same way—or with the same impact. Light-duty vehicles, like cars, SUVs, and small trucks make up the majority of our nation’s transportation pollution. Heavy-duty vehicles, like semi-trucks and buses, represent fewer of the vehicles on the road, but a disproportionate amount of the carbon pollution—and are far worse for public health. Diesel engines, which heavy-duty vehicles often run on, create diesel particulate matter (PM), which is strongly linked to heart and lung disease, birth defects, and premature death. We need to address pollution from both light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles to tackle the intersecting climate and public health crises—and fortunately, we can.



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How Do We Cut Pollution from Cars, Small Trucks, and SUVs?

Transportation is the most polluting sector of the U.S. economy, and light-duty vehicles make up the largest share of that pollution. Fortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a proven, effective tool to address this particular type of pollution: the light-duty vehicle standard. In March 2024, President Biden’s EPA finalized a light-duty vehicle standard that set the strongest-ever limits on tailpipe pollution from cars and SUVs for model year 2027 and beyond. This announcement sets the stage for a majority of cars, SUVs, and small trucks sold in the U.S. to be all-electric or hybrids by 2032. Setting strong pollution reduction standards for light-duty vehicles is a win-win, reducing climate pollution and improving public health.


Learn more about clean car standards →

Est. read time: 6 minutes


More Resources on Cars

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How Do We Cut Pollution from Large Trucks, Buses, and Trains?

It’s essential we electrify trucks to clean up pollution in largely lower-income, BIPOC port communities—and it’s possible, by building out charging infrastructure and investing in more affordable electric vehicles. 

In March 2024, EPA finalized its heavy-duty vehicle rule (also called the “Phase 3” rule), which puts a cap on how much greenhouse gas pollution heavy-duty vehicles—like delivery trucks, school buses, and large motor homes—can emit and would apply to heavy-duty vehicles sold in 2027 and beyond. Thanks to 175,000 comments submitted to EPA, the final rule was stronger than the initial proposal and will create $13 billion in public health savings, reduce a billion tons worth of greenhouse gas pollution, and drastically cut air pollution for the 72 million Americans living on trucking routes.  

Learn more about EPA’s heavy-duty vehicle rule →

Est. read time: 10 minutes

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How Do We Build Out Charging Infrastructure for Electric Trucks?

In March 2024, the Biden administration announced the National Zero-Emission Freight Corridor Strategy. This plan will coordinate and accelerate billions in cross-sector investments to build the charging infrastructure needed to electrify many trucks quickly and achieve a completely zero-emission freight network by 2040. This approach is in line with the national strategy for freight electrification Evergreen and other movement partners have been calling for. This proposal will coordinate federal funding effectively, bring unprecedented federal and private sector investment to communities across the country, nudge automakers in the right direction, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and clear up the decades-long air pollution in port and freight communities. 


Learn more about cleaning up our freight supply chain →

Est. read time: 9 minutes


More Resources on Freight Electrification

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Why Must the Future of the Auto Industry Be Unionized?

A fair transition to clean energy doesn’t just mean deploying clean energy technology—like electric cars and batteries—it means supporting the working class, creating good jobs, and investing in communities. The electric vehicle (EV) transition is an opportunity to raise autoworker standards, not lower them, by shifting power away from corporations and back to working families. 


Learn more about the connection between climate and labor →

Est. read time: 9 minutes


More Resources on Jobs

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How Do We Make Trains a Climate Soltuion?

Trains should be a climate solution. But in the U.S., the outdated, polluting freight system is causing both climate change and environmental injustice. The vast majority of poorly regulated trains carry freight, not people, and are not electrifying in the same way as passenger rail, cars, and trucks are. More than 13 million people in the U.S. live or work near railyards, rail lines, and ports and are impacted by locomotive pollution linked to heart and lung issues. In November 2023, EPA took action, consistent with Evergreen and other climate advocates’ recommendations, and revised its old locomotive preemption rule.


Learn more about EPA's locomotive rule →

Est. read time: 8 mins


More Resources on Trains

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How Do We Cut Transportation Pollution Disproportionately Impacting Communities of Color?

The U.S. is segregated, and so is its pollution. Countless studies reveal that compared to white and/or high-income Americans, communities of color and low-income communities suffer disproportionately from pollution, in addition to the harmful—and sometimes deadly—effects of the climate crisis. Programs like Justice40 are one potential solution to address transportation pollution and deliver funding and benefits to communities. 


Learn how we can advance environmental justice →

Est. read time: 8 mins

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How Do States Cut Transportation Pollution and Create Jobs?

It’s not just federal policies and standards that have the ability to move the needle on addressing transportation pollution. States have a role to play, too. The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program is one of the first Justice40-compliant programs to be rolled out and has been implemented by every state. It’s an opportunity to learn and reflect: What does equitable programming look like in practice, and what can—and must—we improve? 


Learn more about the NEVI program →

Est. read time: 11 minutes


More Resources on States

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