By: Almeta Cooper, National Manager for Health Equity, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: May 9, 2023
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2022-0829
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Good morning. My name is Almeta Cooper. I live in Washington, DC, and I am the National Manager for Health Equity for Moms Clean Air Force. We are 1.5 million moms, dads, and caregivers nationally who are united in protecting clean air and children’s health.
I thank EPA and its staff for inviting public comment and remote testimony to allow for increased participation in these public hearings regarding EPA’s proposed Light and Medium Duty Multi-Pollutant Emissions Standards effective with model year 2027.
I join Moms Clean Air Force’s volunteers and members in applauding EPA for proposing to strengthen these standards to further reduce multiple harmful air pollution emissions from the 285+ million cars, vans, SUVs, light pickup trucks, and box style delivery trucks being driven on US roads, streets, and highways.
As parents and caregivers, we are asking for a rapid transition to zero-emitting vehicles because the transportation sector is the largest source of climate pollution in the United States, making up 27% of all greenhouse gas emissions and passenger vehicles are the number one contributor of these emissions.
Reducing climate and air pollution is an important step forward in protecting families, especially Black and Brown families who are living, playing, and working near locations that are the most affected by the harmful health effects of climate pollution. There is ample data available from EPA and other state and federal agencies that make the connection to the harmful health effects of tailpipe pollution.
I am here today because as an African American woman, I care deeply about environmental justice, especially the connection between climate change and health equity for our nation’s most vulnerable populations. Climate change is a major contributor to the health crisis in African American communities. African Americans bear 21% more of the climate change harms when compared to other racial groups.
Across the country, communities of color experience higher than average levels of pollution exposure from a variety of sources. African Americans, specifically, are exposed to higher than average amounts of pollution from all sources, according to EPA’s National Emissions Inventory.
Not only do cars contribute to climate pollution, but they also pollute our air. In Washington, DC, where I live about 126,000 children, 9,000 pregnant women, and 86,000 people 65 years old and older are being exposed to poor air quality daily because of air pollution. These are real people with names and families who love them and care for them.
Based on 2021 data, three quarters of the US population are car owners. The American Dream of car ownership and the reliance on fossil fuel powered cars, SUVs, and light pickup trucks has converted this dream into an American health nightmare. Strong standards can be a catalyst to accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles, which will have benefits both for our climate and our health.
In closing, I strongly urge EPA to finalize the strongest possible Light- and Medium-Duty Vehicle Multi- Pollutant Emissions Standards this year to better protect children, people with asthma, older adults, and other vulnerable groups from the health harms of air pollution.