Road 2 Ruin: The Environmental Price of Transportation

Getting cargo from point A to point B is big business—with a heavy environmental price.

| July/August 2004

Getting cargo from point A to point B is big business—with a heavy environmental price.

The bad news
While transporting more than 9 billion tons of goods across the United States each year, trucks and trains consume 35 billion gallons of diesel fuel. Gas combustion produces carbon dioxide, a major cause of global warming, and nitrogen oxides, which create air pollution. Based on current trends, ground freight transportation will consume more than 45 billion gallons of diesel fuel and produce 450 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2012.

The good news
The EPA’s new SmartWay Transport Partnership challenges freight-shipping companies to improve their environmental performance. By 2012, this initiative aims to reduce between 33 to 66 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and up to 200,000 tons of nitrogen oxide emissions per year by reducing unnecessary engine idling, improving aerodynamic design of trucks, and promoting use of trains, which are more efficient.

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