Air polluted by millions of over-the-road diesel trucks, operating every day in America, severely affects the health of trees, animals, farm crops, and people. But America doesn't need to swallow diesel emissions to move products and people. The Steel Interstate can replace the vast majority of over-the-road truck haulage, dramatically reducing the negative impact diesel emissions has on our environment and our health.
The Millennium Institute found that “By every significant metric [gross domestic product, greenhouse gas emissions, oil consumed, safety] . . a massive push for electrified rail, [builSteel Interstate and urban transit investments would] create an 11% larger GDP, only 4% increase in Greenhouse Gas Emissions and a 26% reduction in oil consumption already in 2030 versus a strictly market-based reaction. Adding renewable energy [to power these transportation systems] improved the results to GDP +13%, GHG -38% and oil consumption -22%.” [Drake, A., Bassai, A., Tennyson, E.L., Herren, H.R., Evaluating the Creation of a Parallel Non-Oil Transportation System in an Oil-Constrained Future, Millennium Institute, January, 2009.].
There is a great deal of information elsewhere on this website about the health impacts of diesel truck pollution.
Dirty air from diesel emissions isn’t just stuff that must be wiped from windows. It is:
- cancer-causing particulate matter and gases settling daily deep into the lungs.
- smog-inducing ozone that damages health of people and animals and interferes with photosynthesis in plants and significantly reduces plant yields.
- acid rain that percolates into our soil and washes into streams and oceans, poisoning and acidifying as it goes. It actively, measurably, produces respiratory problems.
Diverting 85% of mid- and long-distance truck freight to a truck time-competitive electrified Steel Interstate railroad is feasible with off-the-shelf rail technology. Such a transportation mode change in American would greatly improve air quality and reduce damage to land, water, air, communities, and people, while actually improving economic productivity.
Storm runoff from highways and road construction is a major source of water pollution, doubly dangerous because it is largely unnoticed. Rain and melting, salted snow seep into side ditches and storm sewers—and from there into rivers and oceans.
Because trains have a far better safety record, toxic substances hauled by trucks, pose a significantly higher risk to water contamination than are those same materials carried by trains.
Further, there is considerable and increasing damage to underground water resources and surface streams, rivers, lakes and oceans. From headline grabbing crude oil spills--Exxon in Prince Edward Sound, BP in the Gulf--to daily mishaps all along the "stream" of production--drilling, transporting, refining, and to the gas pump and oil change our precious water supply and it's living creatures are at risk.