Reps. Lee, García and Senator Markey Urge Biden Admin. to Update Decade-Old Air Pollution Standards For Diesel Locomotives, Use Union Labor in Green Rail Development

**For IMMEDIATE RELEASE**

Contact: Emilia.Rowland@mail.house.gov

Reps. Lee, García and Senator Markey Urge Biden Admin. to Update Decade-Old Air Pollution Standards For Diesel Locomotives, Use Union Labor in Green Rail Development

PITTSBURGH, PA — Today, Rep. Summer Lee (PA-12), Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-4), and Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) led a letter with 35 colleagues to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan urging the EPA to modernize its national air pollution standards for locomotives in order to protect the health of rail workers and fenceline communities and to close existing loopholes that rail carriers exploit to keep outdated, dirty trains on the tracks. The EPA’s current locomotive emissions standards have not been updated since 2008, and as of 2016, nearly 50 percent of existing locomotives’ emissions were uncontrolled, with no standards for any pollutants. Forty members total also wrote to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the EPA to ask the agencies to prioritize existing unionized labor in grants and other programs related to the green train technologies. 

“Coming from Western Pennsylvania, I’m too familiar with the harms of locomotive diesel exhaust–from deplorable air quality to increased rates of cancer and respiratory diseases–that disproportionately affect Black and Brown communities like mine,” said Rep. Summer Lee (PA-12). “When I came to Congress, I made the explicit promise to fight for environmental justice and not for the corporate CEOs that pollute our communities. We can and we must update pollution standards to protect our fenceline communities, while ensuring that the billions provided through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act for clean locomotive technology directly benefit our existing, highly-skilled unionized rail workforce.”

“A quarter of the nation’s freight trains pass through Chicagoland and every day my constituents breathe in their dangerous fumes. It has been 16 years since air standards for locomotives were updated. With new, cleaner technology available today, it’s time for new emissions standards that are more responsive to the dangers of pollution and improve the health of our communities. And we need to make sure that the work of building a cleaner industry supports good-paying union jobs. The actions we request of the EPA are a matter of environmental and economic justice, and I am proud to join my colleagues in this fight,” said Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García.

In their letter to the EPA, the members wrote, “In short, old, dirty locomotives continue to run through communities, jeopardizing public health, as rail executives continue to avoid the adoption of best available control technologies measures, at the expense of the air, the environment, and workers. We therefore urge the EPA to adopt strong locomotive regulations that protect workers and communities from health harms of diesel exhaust and outdated emissions-reduction technology.”

The letter to DOT  is signed by Senators Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), and Representatives Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Cori Bush (MO-01), André Carson (IN-07), Greg Casar (TX-35), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Danny Davis (IL-7), Christopher Deluzio (PA-17), Debbie Dingell (MI-06), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Robert García (CA-42), Daniel Goldman (NY-10), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-07), Glenn Ivey (MD-04), Jonathan Jackson (IL-01), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (CA-37), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Katie Porter (CA-47), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Delia Ramirez (IL-03), Janice Schakowsky (IL-09), Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), Haley Stevens (MI-11), Mark Takano (CA-39), Shri Thanedar (MI-13), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12).

Supporters include International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers (IBB), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), National Conference of Firemen & Oilers, SEIU (NCFO), International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Mechanical Division (SMART-MD), United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE), BMWED/Teamster Rail Conference, Moving Forward Network, Harambee House / Citizens for Environmental Justice, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Respiratory Health Association, Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision (SDEV), Earthjustice, Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), Warehouse Workers for Justice, Natural Resources Defense Council, Kimberly McCoy/Central California Asthma Collaborative, CleanAirNow Vecinos KC, West Long Beach Association, Peoples Collective for Environmental Justice, Solutionary Rail, Clean Water Action, Tallahassee Food Network, Green New Deal Network, and ReThink Energy Florida.

Locomotive Emissions Letter Text (PDF) | Labor Letter Text (PDF)

Background:

Rep. Summer Lee has been critical in the fight for environmental justice since her time as an organizer. Most recently, Rep. Lee has made significant strides in promoting sustainable development and combating environmental degradation. She successfully delivered just over $900 million to create thousands of clean energy jobs, remove lead from water and schools, protect against flooding, and combat air pollution along with the climate crisis. Furthermore, she introduced and unanimously passed through committee legislation aimed at addressing abandoned wells that pollute our air and water, showcasing her commitment to tackling pollution at its source.

In addition to her ongoing efforts, Congresswoman Summer Lee has secured over $44 million in funding to cut methane emissions from wells and support the environmental restoration of well sites. This funding is a crucial step in reducing harmful emissions and restoring natural landscapes affected by industrial activities.

In a notable move to enhance water quality and infrastructure, Rep. Summer Lee hosted Vice President Kamala Harris and the EPA Administrator in Pittsburgh to announce a massive investment of $5.8 billion for drinking water systems and wastewater infrastructure nationwide, with Pennsylvania receiving $200 million of the funding. This announcement came on the heels of Lee’s earlier success in January, where she announced that the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority was awarded a $32.1 million funding package from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) to continue the aggressive removal of lead service lines throughout the drinking water system.

Adding to her list of environmental achievements, in February, Congresswoman Summer Lee revealed a new $40 million federal grant awarded to First Student for the purchase of 100 electric school buses. This initiative aims to significantly improve air quality in and around schools, advance environmental justice, and combat climate change statewide. Out of the 100 electric buses, 45 will be allocated to the Pittsburgh School District, marking a significant step towards reducing carbon emissions and promoting clean transportation.

Congresswoman Summer Lee’s efforts and achievements in environmental protection and sustainability have been recognized with a perfect 100% score on the League of Conservation Voters National Environmental Scorecard. This accolade celebrates her unwavering dedication to environmental advocacy and her impactful legislative actions to safeguard our planet for future generations.


Since taking office in January, Lee, who serves on the House Oversight Committee and Space, Science and Technology Committee, has delivered historic levels of federal investment totaling over $1.2 Billion brought back to Western PA, including over $200 million for infrastructure, over $50 million for affordable transit, and over $500 million to keep clean energy manufacturing at home in Pennsylvania. These investments will help improve Western Pennsylvania’s infrastructure and transit, ensure cleaner air and drinking water, lower housing costs, fund research institutions, fuel clean manufacturing, fund STEM innovation and entrepreneurship, boost workforce development, and create thousands of good paying union jobs.  Lee and her team have also delivered casework and constituent services to over 1,950 constituents with issues ranging from helping our seniors and disabled community access Medicare and social security to helping folks secure housing and helping families with immigration support and passports.

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