By Robert Baldwin III, Huffington Post Politics.
WASHINGTON — Environmental groups are asking Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy to take actions to reduce toxic diesel exhaust pollution near ports, rail yards and highways, which they said disproportionately hurts blacks and Latinos.
The Moving Forward Network, a national alliance of more than 40 local and national environmental organizations, urged the EPA administrator in a meeting on Tuesday to create a special committee to identify ways to curb pollution from freight facilities before the Obama administration leaves office. They also asked EPA to encourage zero-emission technology for heavy duty trucks.
Environmental activists call the areas around freight facilities “diesel death zones,” and say minorities are disproportionately affected. The fine particles in emissionsfrom diesel trucks, trains and ships can cause lung diseases, worsen conditions like asthma or bronchitis, and lead to thousands of premature deaths every year. A 2011 National Institutes of Health study found that the number of black and Hispanic people living near 43 harbors was almost double their representation in the overall U.S. population.