By: Almeta E. Cooper, National Field Manager, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: April 12, 2022
About: Control of Air Pollution from New Motor Vehicles: Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Standards Proposed Rule, Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2019-0055
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Good morning. My name is Almeta Cooper. I am a Field Manager with Moms Clean Air Force, which consists of about 1.5 million parents, caregivers, and supporters nationally who fight to protect clean air and children’s health.
I live in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, in Fulton County, where I have lived for seven years. Fulton County was again flagged with a failing grade by the American Lung Association in its 2021 State of the Air Report, and in a city known for its monstrous traffic jams, I understand the importance of clean air.
You will be hearing a common message from Moms Clean Air Force: We view EPA’s proposal to set new standards to reduce pollution from heavy-duty vehicles and engines starting in model year 2027 as a welcome step forward. However, it doesn’t go far enough. EPA’s proposal must be strengthened to better protect children. We need cleaner air for our children and our communities. Parents and caregivers across the country want to see a rapid transition to zero-emitting trucks because the US transportation sector is the largest source of air pollution and is responsible for 29% of all climate pollution. Even worse, heavy-duty vehicles are the second-largest contributor in the transportation sector, second only to the largest contributor—passenger vehicles.
The specific reason I am here today is that pollution from the transportation sector adversely impacts health. As a mom and member of my community, I care deeply about environmental justice, especially the connection between climate change and health equity for our most vulnerable populations.
Climate change is a major contributor to the health crisis in African American communities—not in some distant future, but right now when severe heat waves regularly threaten public health, preying especially on older adults, pregnant women, and low-income communities in Georgia and elsewhere. African Americans contribute 23% less to the adverse impact of climate change but bear 21% more of the harms when compared to other racial groups. We need strong standards in place now, to reduce dangerous climate pollutants.
Across the country, African American communities face more dangerously hot days (temperatures above 105 degrees Fahrenheit) than other communities. A study estimated that on average, counties with higher numbers of African Americans living in them had 2 to 3 more days of dangerous heat per year. That number could increase by 10 times by the year 2050. African Americans are twice as likely to die from dangerous heat compared to other groups.
In closing, I recommend that EPA go further in reducing deadly nitrous oxide pollution by rapidly phasing in zero-emission fleets. I urge EPA to strengthen the final standards, to better protect children, people with asthma, older adults, and other vulnerable groups from the health harms of air pollution. Everyone should be able to breathe clean air.
Thank you to the EPA and its staff for inviting public comment and permitting digital and remote testimony to allow for increased participation in these public hearings.