Petition Seeks Limits on Greenhouse Gas, Black Carbon Pollution from Locomotives

Petition Seeks Limits on Greenhouse Gas, Black Carbon Pollution from Locomotives

For Immediate Release


Vera Pardee, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 436-9682 ext. 317, [email protected]
Dan Gelpern, Western Environmental Law Center, (541) 359-3243, [email protected]
Marcie Keever, Friends of the Earth, (415) 544-0790 x 223, [email protected]

Petition Seeks Limits on Greenhouse Gas, Black Carbon Pollution from Locomotives

SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth and the International Center for Technology Assessment today filed a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set limits for greenhouse gas and black carbon pollution from locomotives under the Clean Air Act. Locomotives are a significant source of global warming pollution. In 2008 alone, locomotives in the United States used more than 4 billion gallons of diesel fuel and released more than 50 million tons of carbon dioxide, ranking second among mobile non-road sources of greenhouse gas pollution.

“Getting a handle on the global climate crisis requires limits on its most ubiquitous sources, and that includes locomotives,” said Vera Pardee, senior attorney at the Center. “The EPA is now moving ahead to limit greenhouse gas pollution from cars, trucks, power plants and cement factories, but the job can’t stop there.”

The EPA has already acknowledged that locomotives and marine diesel engines produce significant air pollution in the United States and that these engines will account for a growing share of overall emissions as pollution-control programs for cars, trucks and other non-road sources get underway.

Locomotives also emit more than 25,000 tons of particle pollution smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5) each year, including significant amounts of black carbon, a particularly harmful, light-absorbing particle with a potent global warming effect. Black carbon and PM2.5 also pose serious threats to human health and have been associated with aggravated asthma, acute respiratory symptoms like coughing and difficulty breathing, chronic bronchitis and premature mortality in people with heart and lung disease.

“Pollution from locomotives is expected to grow in the coming decades and EPA needs to move quickly to limit its dangerous effects on people and the environment,” said Dan Galpern, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center representing the International Center for Technology Assessment. “There are already cost-effective technologies to reduce greenhouse gas and black-carbon pollution from locomotives, and more are under development. Common-sense operating rules, such as reducing locomotive idling in railyards and more efficient traffic management, can also have immediate impacts on how much pollution is generated by U.S. rail traffic.”

“The impacts of climate change are already upon us and are getting worse,” said Marcie Keever, oceans and vessels project director with Friends of the Earth. “Americans cannot afford for the EPA to wait to address the significant and growing greenhouse gas emissions from trains.”  

The EPA is already moving forward with Clean Air Act rules to reduce greenhouse gases from light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles, and has received petitions to issue greenhouse gas rules for ships, aircraft and off-road engines. With the addition of this petition regarding locomotives, the EPA has now received petitions to address all major mobile sources of greenhouse gas pollution in the United States.


Friends of the Earth ( and our network of grassroots groups in 77 countries fight to create a more healthy, just world. Our current campaigns focus on clean energy and solutions to global warming, protecting people from toxic and new, potentially harmful technologies, and promoting smarter, low-pollution transportation alternatives.




Related News Releases