Diesel engines are the workhorses of our economy, found in everything from ships and trains to school and city buses, construction and agricultural vehicles, long-haul trucks and many other vehicles that keep our economy humming. However, the black exhaust that pours out of diesel vehicles is a silent killer, contributing to 21,000 early deaths in the United States each year.
Along with our partners in the Michigan Diesel Clean-up Campaign, Clean Water Action is spearheading a statewide effort to reduce harmful diesel emissions by up to 90 percent.
Annually in Michigan diesel pollution is responsible for more than:
383 premature deaths thanks to diesel exhaust
417 suffered non-fatal heart attacks
12,603 suffered asthma exacerbations
48,707 work days lost
Diesel pollution is also a major global warming pollutant (over 2000 times more potent than CO2.) Diesel black carbon soot traps heat and warms the atmosphere and is deposited in artic areas, working like a blacktop surface to absorb heat, thus excellerating melting.
While the Federal government set strict standards in 2007 for new diesel engines, these standards do not apply to existing diesel vehicles, which can remain on the road for decades.
Commercially available pollution controls can reduce harmful diesel emissions from current vehicles and begin improving our air quality immediately. In Michigan, we are working to:
1) Create a fund which will allow us to maximize federal dollars and finance the installation of diesel particulate filters - starting with public vehicles and those operatingin heavily impacted areas.
2) Enact anti-idling legislation that saves fuel costs and reduces emissions – a definite win-win.
3) Require Clean Construction for publicly-funded construction projects and otherwise for state-owned, operated, rented and leased vehicles to utilize the latest diesel pollution control technology and and ensure the State of Michigan is leading the way in reducing dangerous diesel emissions.
These three steps won’t solve the whole problem, but they’re a good start – and they’ll help make Michigan a healthier place for all of us.
Contact Susan Harley to learn about volunteer opportunities as well as ways to involve your family, school or organization in this important work!