REDUCE Act (SB398 / HB820)

Coal-buring power plant, Alexandria VA. Photo credit: Douglas Litchfield / Shutterstock

Every Marylander has the right to breathe clean air and drink clean water. Communities and industry both benefit when community concerns are addressed early in the air pollution permit application process.

The REDUCE Act supports information sharing about diesel trucks to enhance community engagement in decisions about new industrial development. The goal is effective engagement between communities, industry, and government when new air pollution permits are being considered.

The bill applies to 4 categories of air pollution permits to improve community engagement, transparency, and accountability between diverse stakeholders. It will not increase the time to complete a permit application or change MDE’s criteria for permit approval.

In areas with high poverty or non-white populations, the permit applicant will:

  • estimate and publish the number of diesel truck trips per day needed to service the facility and the associated emissions from the truck trips
  • consult with the community about diesel truck trip routes and times, impacts on road infrastructure and traffic safety, and idling policies The Maryland Department of the Environment will:
  • solicit from health departments any available information about the incidence of air pollution related health disparities within the affected community and make this information available to community members

Breathing diesel truck exhaust can contribute to cancer risk and other diseases

Trucks, trains, and heavy equipment are usually powered by diesel fuel. They release a combination of fine soot and particles, containing roughly 40 different toxic air contaminants, 15 of which are known to cause cancer. Children, seniors, people with heart and lung conditions, and pregnant women are especially vulnerable.

  • People living near major roads experience a higher rate of low birth weight babies, asthma, cardiovascular disease
  • In Maryland, a significant increased cancer risk from vehicles was identified, and is higher in census tracts with predominately African-American populations and low-income populations
  • Social vulnerabilities – like poverty and racial discrimination – may exacerbate the effects of environmental exposures on health
  • Community feedback during the permitting process can help identify alternate truck routes and other steps that improve community health at low or no cost to the applicant.

To learn more, contact Maryland Program Coordinator Anna Mudd.

To take action, click here or contact your representatives in Annapolis