By: Elizabeth Brandt, Field Manager, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: June 2, 2021
About: Environmental Protection Agency Reconsideration of SAFE 1 Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0257
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Hi, My name is Elizabeth Brandt, I’m Valencia and Natalia’s mom, and I’m a field manager for Moms Clean Air Force. When my kids and I talk about air pollution, they identify vehicles as the biggest culprit. While I know that they are talking about the view from our bus stop, along a Maryland State Highway, they aren’t wrong. Pollution from the transportation sector is the nation’s leading source of climate-warming carbon pollution. For this reason, and so many others, I’m grateful that in 2008 Maryland chose to adopt stronger vehicle pollution standards than those set by the federal government.
Unfortunately, the Trump administration took us several steps backwards in the fight to clean up our air. If allowed to stand, these attacks on our health would greenlight automakers to sell dirtier, more polluting cars nationally, while stripping states like Maryland of the ability to enforce tougher standards locally. I want to thank the Biden EPA leadership for taking swift action to restore Maryland’s authority to clean up car pollution. I also urge the EPA to implement more protective clean car standards as soon as possible, preferably yesterday.
Maryland’s air quality has been improving over the years, but it has a long way to go. According to the latest “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association, six Maryland counties received failing grades for ozone pollution, which is caused primarily by tailpipe pollution. Montgomery county, where I live, received a C. Our children deserve better than this. They are most vulnerable to the dangerous exhaust from cars and trucks—their lungs are still developing and ozone pollution increases the risk of long-term chronic respiratory and cardiovascular ailments like asthma and heart disease.
And then there are the climate impacts. Here in Maryland, we’re already experiencing the intensifying storms and increased flooding that are a result of climate change. Our urban areas are suffering from extreme heat as 90 degree days occur with increasing regularity. To do our part to slow these climate impacts, we simply must cut emissions from cars and trucks.
Restoring state clean air authority is just the beginning. It’s critical that the EPA get to work immediately on more ambitious tailpipe emission standards nationwide. The health impact of Trump’s rollback of federal clean car standards has been studied, and predictions are grim. The rollback would, by mid-century, cause 18,500 premature deaths and more than 250,000 more asthma attacks, as a result of the extra air pollution. Stronger federal standards for tailpipe pollution will very literally, save lives in the communities we love.
The EPA can and must protect all Americans from dangerous tailpipe pollution with the strongest possible clean car standards. But in the meantime, the agency should allow states to once again protect clean air in their communities, save their drivers more money at the gas pump, and do their part to combat the climate crisis. Until the federal government ensures clean cars for all, give states back our legally-granted authority to preserve clean air.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify.