At a packed hearing in Washington, D.C., moms told EPA officials in no uncertain terms to protect the air their babies breathe and help stop climate change by leaving current vehicle greenhouse gas standards and fuel efficiency requirements alone.
“I like cars, but I don’t like pollution,” testified Trisha Sheehan, National Field Manager for Moms Clean Air Force, as her adorable 6-month old son, Lincoln fidgeted on her lap. “Tailpipe pollution degrades air quality, triggers asthma attacks, and makes climate change worse. As a parent, I am very concerned about climate change, which threatens the health and future of my children…We need to do everything we can to limit the pollution that is warming our planet and harming our families.”
That “everything” includes reducing the carbon dioxide (CO2) cars emit when they burn gasoline, and increasing the number of miles a vehicle travels on every gallon of gasoline burned. Cars and light trucks are a critical target here because almost 30% of greenhouse gases comes from transportation.
EPA recognized this in 2012 when it set reasonable vehicle emissions standards that, by 2025, would see America use 12 billion fewer barrels of oil, reduce dangerous tail-pipe pollution by 6 billion metric tons, and save individual consumers as much as $1,620 at the pump.
That the Trump Administration has asked EPA to consider rolling back such effective standards makes no sense, admonished the vast majority of the 110 individuals who testified, especially in the wake of the climate change-fueled devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey. Representatives of organizations ranging from the American Lung Association to the American Thoracic Society to the Parliament of the World’s Religions to retired NASA scientists and military officers all argued in favor of either maintaining or strengthening the standards that are already on the books.
“The decision to reopen…the CAFE standards is unnecessary, wasteful and harmful to American interests,” said retired Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney, CEO of the American Security Project, a non-partisan advocacy group focused on national security. Mr. Cheney argued that higher CAFE standards reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil while reducing the carbon emissions linked to climate change.
Many of those testifying in favor of strong standards said they were doing so because it is the ethical position to take.
“It is EPA’s legal and moral obligation to limit carbon dioxide pollution from the transportation sector.” said Elizabeth Brandt, D.C. organizer for Moms Clean Air Force. “If we do not meet the challenge of climate change with American innovation, then our children will face more natural disasters, food shortages, tick borne diseases, and the loss of our shorelines.”
Others said they support standards to limit greenhouse gas emissions and increase fuel efficiency because otherwise, American automakers will lose their competitive edge in the global economy.
Dan Boone, president of United Steelworkers Local 970 in Cleveland, OH, reminded the EPA officials at the hearing that the very regulations they’re considering overturning “inspire innovations that create jobs.”
“We’re now doing some manufacturing for Tesla and they’re about as green as you can get,” Boone said. “It’s important to keep those standards strong and keep driving innovation.”
When it was my turn to testify, I noted that I never would have received my Master of Science degree if my thesis had argued for what the EPA is considering right now; rolling back one of the single-most effective programs created by any Administration to reduce GHG emissions.
“My professors would most certainly have said to me, “We thought you were smarter than a 5th grader. Evidently, you’re not!!'”
“Climate change is here, it’s happening now, and it threatens the health of our children and communities,” said Molly Rauch, Public Health Policy Director for Moms Clean Air Force, during the very first panel of the day. “The carbon pollution standards are a win-win for moms: they help reduce the carbon dioxide pollution that is driving climate change, and they save us money at the pump at the same time. That’s why, as parents, we oppose any rollbacks to these standards.”
“To me, the most important reason not to reverse course is our children,” Mollie Michel, Pennsylvania organizer for Moms Clean Air Force, reinforced during her testimony later in the day. “Among other detrimental effects, rollbacks will further contribute to climate change, worsening symptoms for the 6.3 million children in this country who suffer from asthma.”
“Nobody voted to make America dirty again,” concluded Trisha Sheehan as baby Lincoln looked on. “Rolling back vehicle efficiency and clean car standards will only increase pollution and trigger negative public health impacts like asthma attacks and heart attacks due to impacts from climate change.”
Though those testifying at the hearing supported the standards by as much as 25 to 1, there’s no guarantee that the standards will survive. That’s why it’s important for you to add your voice (below) to keep clean car standards, by October 5, 2017. Thank you.