By: Elizabeth Bechard, Senior Policy Analyst, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: May 2, 2023
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2022-0985
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is Elizabeth Bechard, and I am a senior policy analyst with Moms Clean Air Force. I live in Essex, Vermont, with my partner and seven-year-old twins. I support EPA’s proposal to clean up greenhouse gas pollution from trucks, and ask that you finalize these important protections this year.
Pollution from heavy-duty vehicles is a significant contributor to climate change, and one of the areas I focus on in my work is the intersection between climate change and mental health. A growing body of research, including the most recent IPCC report, underscores that the mental health impacts of climate change are significant and only expected to increase. Recent polling from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication finds that approximately 1 in 3 people in the US report feeling angry, afraid, outraged, anxious, and even hopeless about climate change. In 2021, more than 4 in 10 people in the US lived in a county that experienced climate-related extreme weather, including fires, floods, hurricanes, and other strong storms. Though the cost of climate disasters is often measured in injuries, premature deaths or building damage, research suggests that the number of people psychologically affected by disasters can surpass those physically injured by 40 to 1. And numerous publications, including EPA’s own report on climate change and children’s health just last week, suggest that children may be especially vulnerable to the mental health impacts of climate change.
As a mother, the mental health impacts of climate change are personal for me: I have struggled with climate anxiety and grief myself for several years, sometimes to the point where I’ve needed professional help to cope. I worry about how climate stressors like extreme heat, hurricanes, and worsened air quality may affect my children in the future, and every day, I talk to parents around the country with similar worries. These worries can affect our quality of life and the quality of our families’ lives.
But I’m not hopeless, because I know that we have the tools to act on climate—and we need to use them. Stronger greenhouse gas standards for heavy-duty vehicles are one of the most important tools we can leverage today to fight the climate crisis. Finalizing strong standards as soon as possible is an opportunity we simply cannot miss to safeguard both our physical and mental health, and more importantly, to protect the well-being of our children and future generations. Once again, I support strong standards for cleaner heavy-duty vehicles, consistent with the Advanced Clean Trucks rule, and ask that you finalize these important protections this year. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.