By: Elizabeth Bechard, Senior Policy Analyst, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: June 28, 2022
About: Waiver Requests for California's Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT), Zero Emission Airport Shuttle, and Zero-Emission Power Train Certification Regulations; Omnibus Low NOx Regulation; and HD Emission Warranty Regulation, Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2022-0331
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is Elizabeth Bechard, and I am a Senior Policy Analyst at Moms Clean Air Force, a graduate student in public health, and the mother of two young children. I’m here today to thank this administration for acting quickly to clean up truck pollution, but urge EPA to approve California’s waiver request in full. This will allow the state to create the strongest possible limits on heavy duty vehicle pollution and rules to accelerate the transition to zero-emissions vehicles. We are at a critical moment in the climate crisis, and we need to clear the air and reduce greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. Preserving California’s authority under the Clean Air Act to set more stringent emissions standards is a climate and public health opportunity we can’t afford to get wrong.
As a mother, I’m deeply concerned about the impact that climate change and air pollution will have on children’s health in the coming decades, especially the health of children living in frontline environmental justice communities. Tens of millions of Americans live in high-traffic areas, where communities breathe polluted air that affects their respiratory, cardiovascular, and mental health on a daily basis. This dirty air is so dangerous that areas with heavy truck traffic are called “diesel death zones” because diesel soot pollution contributes to asthma, chronic lung disease, and premature death. No child should have to live in an area nicknamed a “death zone.”
Children in environmental justice communities will also bear the brunt of the health impacts of climate change, including the physical and mental trauma from exposure to extreme weather conditions like wildfires, hurricanes, and extreme heat. Any delay in implementing California’s clean truck rules will set back greenhouse gas emissions reductions from the transportation sector at a critical moment in the climate movement when we cannot afford any more setbacks. The quality of our children’s futures depends, quite literally, on us getting climate action right, right now.
And the devastating news we hear about climate change nearly every day reminds us that we are all connected – what we do about climate change in the United States will affect the entire planet, and what one state does about climate change can affect every other state. California’s authority to set strong truck pollution standards benefits all of us. So it’s absolutely critical that EPA issue these waivers quickly and in full to deliver on President Biden’s commitment to the authority of states to protect their vulnerable populations and address the climate crisis.
For over 50 years, US states have had the explicit right granted under the Clean Air Act to protect their residents’ health by choosing clean truck standards that are safer than the federal standards. Currently, 6 states—representing more than 20% of the medium- and heavy-duty truck market—have committed to adopting the Advanced Clean Trucks sales mandates, and more are considering the rule. California, Oregon, Washington, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have adopted the ACT rule, and other states like my home state of North Carolina are working on adoption. States want clean air and climate action, and allowing states to set strong truck pollution standards is critical to our health, to our future, and to the administration’s commitment to environmental justice.
In conclusion, as a citizen and a mother, I urge this administration to approve the waivers in full to grant California the authority to create life-saving rules to reduce deadly truck pollution and to accelerate the transition to zero-emission electric trucks and buses. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.