By: Emily Pickett, Florida State Coordinator, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: May 2, 2023
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2022-0985
To: Environmental Protection Agency
My name is Emily Pickett, and I am the Florida state coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force in Tampa, Florida. I’m grateful for the chance to testify before you today. As a lifelong Floridian, I have a deep appreciation for our state and want to ensure it is a healthy place for future generations. That’s why I am here today, speaking in support of strong transportation standards, including cleaner trucks, and urging you to finalize these important protections this year.
As a mother of two, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to prioritize the health of our children and the environment they will inherit. Our suburban community borders the Hillsborough River, surrounded by sprawling oaks, cypress marshes, ponds, and wildlife. It feels like a healthy place to live thanks to the presence of nature.
But the alarming truth is that our air quality is at risk. Our county recently received a D grade from the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report for high ozone days, which is something we cannot ignore. Ozone air pollution, or smog, is one of the most widespread pollutants in the United States and is a powerful lung irritant.
Despite living in a seemingly healthy environment, our community is nestled between two interstates, with an eight-lane highway cutting through it. My house sits just three miles from I-75, which is one of the country’s busiest interstates for truck traffic. Many homes here are less than 200 feet from the interstate! Most residents can hear the traffic despite the sound-blocking walls. It’s a stark reality that my family and I, along with countless others, are at risk of dangerous air pollution.
Each of my family members, along with many who live in our community, experience persistent symptoms like sore throats, eye irritation, and congestion. Doctors routinely diagnose these symptoms as seasonal allergies, but allergy tests are rarely performed, so we can’t be sure allergens like pollen are to blame. Because we live in an area with high levels of air pollution, we could very well be experiencing the ill effects of smog.
While we have been lucky that our symptoms are mild, many people are not as fortunate. Nearly 300,000 people in Hillsborough County suffer from asthma, COPD, lung cancer, or cardiovascular disease.
The transportation sector is the largest source of climate pollution in the US, and this is something that needs to change. We need to transition to zero-emission vehicles to make a significant impact in cleaning our air. Zero-emission trucks are among the best available technologies to reduce greenhouse gases and dangerous air pollution. With cleaner trucks on our roadways, we can decrease the prevalence of pollution-driven negative health impacts.
As a concerned mom and Floridian, I wholeheartedly support strong standards for cleaner trucks consistent with the Advanced Clean Trucks rule and implore you to take action this year. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.