By: Elizabeth Hauptman, Michigan field coordinator, 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
My name is Elizabeth Hauptman, and on behalf of Moms Clean Air Force’s nearly 31,000 members throughout Michigan, I’m asking EPA to strengthen the proposed heavy-duty NOx and greenhouse gas standards. These rules must be strengthened this year to protect the health of our communities. EPA must enact standards that put the American truck and bus fleet on a clear roadway to 100% zero-emission sales by 2035.
Pollution harms all of us, but disproportionately impacts children. My son has asthma, and his disease is made worse by air pollution. Because of him and the over 166,000 children in Michigan who suffer from asthma, we need tougher air quality standards to protect our children from the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution—the tailpipes of trucks, buses, and cars. Michigan has some of the worst rates of asthma in the country according to the American Lung Association. Children are more harmed by air pollution than adults for many reasons. They breathe more rapidly than adults, spend more time outdoors, and are more physically active than adults, thus exposing their still-developing lungs to more air pollution. Kids are also smaller, living closer to the ground than the rest of us, standing just about tailpipe high, where concentrations of pollution from these trucks and buses is coming directly at them.
Pollution can lead to increased asthma rates in kids, and poor air quality can exacerbate asthma, causing more asthma attacks, resulting in millions of missed school days for kids across the country, and, often, missed workdays for adults. In the summertime, we need to watch our weather app to see if it's safe for our son to play outdoors. As a mother who has seen the fear in her son’s face as his chest tightens and he gasps to breathe, we must do more to protect him and children who suffer from this chronic illness. We have far too often have had to rush home after a soccer game on hot summer days to use his nebulizer.
Furthermore, childhood asthma rates are significantly higher for children of color. Latino children are twice as likely to die from asthma, and Black children are 10 times more likely to die from asthma than white, non-Hispanic kids. These statistics make it abundantly clear that strong clean car standards and a shift to zero emissions vehicles is an environmental and social justice issue—our children deserve justice in every breath.
Strengthening truck and bus emission standards is the best tool we have in our toolbox to fight climate change. This urgent crisis is not something that we will see the impacts of some day in the distant future, we are seeing climate impacts right now, with extreme weather events like floods, storms, and heat waves. Addressing the pollution from the heavy truck and bus transportation sector to fight climate change CANNOT WAIT.
Eliminating emissions from heavy-duty vehicles, especially through a rapid transition to zero-emission vehicles, is essential for making strides toward desperately needed cleaner air in these communities and a safer climate.
Zero-emission electric trucks are the best available technology to both reduce harmful NOx and climate pollution. EPA can and should use these truck standards to accelerate the transition to electric trucks–to put the country’s medium- and heavy-duty fleets on a pathway to 100% zero-emission electric vehicles as quickly as possible.
Michiganders need strong standards to reduce air pollution and protect our health, especially for communities of color, which bear the brunt of health impacts from truck and bus pollution. Thank you.