By: Lucia Valentine, West Virginia field coordinator, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: April 13, 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
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. My name is Lucia Valentine, and I am the West Virginia organizer for Moms Clean Air Force. I am from Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and have lived in the Mountain State my whole life. Growing up on the banks of the Potomac River, I have experienced exacerbated climate disasters, such as flooding, due to the negative impacts that greenhouse gasses have on our environment. This is in major part due to the lack of vehicle pollution standards. The largest source of climate pollution in the US is the transportation sector, responsible for 29% of all climate pollution. Within the transportation sector, heavy-duty vehicles are the second-largest contributor, at 23% (the largest contributor is passenger vehicles).
EPA’s proposal to strengthen pollution standards for trucks is a welcome step forward. But it doesn’t go far enough. The proposal must be strengthened, to better protect children, people with asthma, older adults, and other vulnerable groups from the health harms of air pollution. Moms and dads across the country want to see a rapid transition to zero-emitting trucks, and we need cleaner air for our children and our communities.
According to EPA, more than 45 million people in the US live within 300 feet of a major roadway or transportation facility, and 72 million people live within 200 meters of a truck freight route. People of color and those with lower incomes are more likely to live near truck routes.
Although air quality in the US has improved in the past several decades, more than 40% of Americans—over 135 million people—live in places with unhealthy levels of air pollution.
The trucks covered by this rule will be on the road for decades, so these vehicles must be cleaned up as soon as possible. Families in diesel death zones and environmental justice communities have suffered long enough and cannot wait extra model years for clean air, and drivers cannot wait extra model years for more efficient, pollution-free trucks.
With West Virginia being one of the most at risk states for flooding disasters, there is no time to waste. If we don't reduce emissions and reduce them swiftly, West Virginia is likely to see an increase of climate-related weather disasters. This also weighs heavy on the minds of youth here in our state as many struggle with the reality of staying in West Virginia. Experiencing and living through climate-related weather disasters, like some of the floods we’ve seen in the recent years, impacts our mental health and increases climate anxiety. In my community, we have had more frequent and worsened floods in the past few years then we have had the last two decades.
The proposed heavy-duty NOx and greenhouse gas standards must be strengthened and finalized this year to protect the health of communities. Thank you again, EPA, for time today.