By: Karin Stein, Iowa State Coordinator, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: May 3, 2023
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2022-0985
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Hello, my name is Karin Stein. I am Iowa Coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force, a national organization of over 1.5 million members fighting to protect our children from air pollution and climate change and fighting for environmental justice. I am here today to ask for the strongest possible greenhouse gas standards for heavy-duty vehicles. One of the benefits of stronger standards is that they will help speed our transition to zero-emissions vehicles, reducing health-harming tailpipe pollution from trucks.
I am South American, and I grew up on a farm in eastern Colombia. Every time we visited relatives in the capital, Bogotá, I’d feel sick to my stomach and get headaches. My mother told me later that I hated walking around the city with her and complained about the smell of the trucks. I was a child, and the tailpipes spewed right into my face. When we moved to Costa Rica and I lived in a city for the first time, I got sick to my stomach every time I entered San José during rush hour.
Yesterday I got stuck on an empty highway behind a diesel truck in rural Iowa for about 10 minutes, unable to pass it because of curves in the road. That dreaded smell and that familiar nausea and headache returned almost immediately. My body has always reacted to the fumes of heavy-duty vehicles.
As an adult, I learned that these emissions are not simply unpleasant but also dangerous. I see people in Iowa working in road construction for months every summer, exposed day in and day out to the exhaust pipes of vehicles slowly moving past them in construction zones along Interstate 80, one of the main thoroughfares for truck and semi trailers in the United States. And I see them on Iowa highways, where heavy farm vehicles get added to the mix. All I can think about when I see these laborers stooped over as they work—most of them people of color, often working on brutally hot days with high ozone readings—is that they are bent over and inhaling what comes directly out of the tailpipes, as I did as a child.
In adulthood I also learned about the enormous contribution of heavy-duty vehicles to climate change. I see the climate crisis playing out in awful ways everywhere I have family around the world—in Iowa and other U.S. locations, in Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Mexico, Germany, Spain, and India. At times I get so discouraged that I feel my childhood desperation of wanting superpowers to make bad things go away.
But stopping bad things from happening doesn’t have to live in the realm of my childhood fantasies any more. You have the power to stop them. I urge the EPA to adopt the strongest possible greenhouse gas rules for heavy-duty trucks, consistent with the Advanced Clean Trucks rule, and to implement them before the end of the year.
Please protect our workers and those who live near heavy traffic. Please help mitigate the worst of what the climate has in store for our children and all who follow. The United States is one of two countries that stand out in the world for being the biggest greenhouse gas emitters, and you, the EPA, have the power to change that dubious reputation.