Clean Truck Standards: A Step in the Right Direction For Health

BY ON August 19, 2015

Kelly Nichols speaks at the EPA and DOT clean truck standards hearing

This testimony was delivered by Moms Clean Air Force Illinois Field Organizer, Kelly Nichols at the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency’s Heavy-Duty Vehicle Fuel Economy and Global Warming Emissions Standards Hearing:

Thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is Kelly Nichols and I am a member of Moms Clean Air Force. We are a community of more than half a million moms who are fighting for clean air and a safe climate for our kids. Here in Illinois we have over 20,000 members.

I have three and a half year old twins and live in Highland Park, Illinois, not far from Route 41 and Interstate 94. The proposed clean truck standards will make our freight trucks cleaner and more efficient for years to come. That’s a step in the right direction for our children’s health. While the proposed standards are a good first step, I urge you to strengthen these standards to ensure the greatest reductions in oil use and global warming emissions.

My son has already manifested symptoms indicating that he will likely have outdoor allergies, like his father and I do. With the increase in greenhouse gas emissions creating more extreme weather, which will likely continue to appear in part as very hot, humid days here in the Chicago area, I’m concerned about the occurrence of more ozone alerts. On days when there are alerts because of temperature, my symptoms get worse, and I don’t want my child to feel that miserable and not be able to go outside and have normal childhood. I see him get knocked around by every virus that rolls through, unlike his twin sister, and I’m concerned that makes him more vulnerable for asthma, which could easily be exacerbated by our proximity to major freight truck routes.

While I, of course, am concerned about my children’s health, I also know that frequently there are more freight depots and shipping companies in frontline neighborhoods where pollution is worse than in my neck of the woods. In Illinois, the rate of childhood asthma stands at 13%, 1% higher than the national rate. The age-adjusted asthma mortality rate in Chicago was nearly five times higher in non-Hispanic blacks than in non-Hispanic whites. This rule will have a significantly positive impact on these affected communities.

Not only do I think that the proposed rule would have an impact on the health of children, if finalized as proposed, the standards would cut oil use by over a million barrels every two days. By not burning that oil, the United States would, over the lifetime of trucks affected by the rule, avoid 1 billion metric tons of global warming emissions. That’s roughly equivalent to the emissions created by powering all U.S. households for a year. That creates not only cleaner air, but a future our children can count on.

I think we need to do more than the proposed standard. I think, to protect our children, we need standards to be strengthened to achieve 40 percent fuel savings by 2025. If the final proposal is strengthened in this way, it would save an additional 200,000 barrels of oil per day in 2035 and avoid an additional 40 million metric tons of global warming emissions annually—equivalent to shutting down 12 coal-fired power plants. Imagine the incredible impact that would have on children’s health and all of our futures.

I support the effort to make our trucks more efficient, and I urge you to finalize stronger standards that reduce trucks’ fuel use by 40% by 2025. This will help protect the health of my kids and my community, now and in the future. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

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TOPICS: Activism, Air Pollution, Children's Health, Clean Air Rules and Regulations, Climate Change, EPA, Illinois, Pollution, Social Justice