By: Michelle Uberuaga, Montana 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 so much for your time and attention today. I am grateful for your work. You have an incredibly important job and laudable mission: “to protect human health and the environment.” Thank you.
My name is Michelle Uberuaga. I am a mother of three and a member of Moms Clean Air Force. I live on Apsaalooke land in southwest Montana. I work full-time running a community-based conservation group here in Yellowstone’s northern gateway.
I am testifying today to encourage EPA to strengthen the proposed rules. This proposal is a step in the right direction to address the urgent climate emergency that we are living in right now, but it doesn’t go far enough. We need to rapidly transition to zero-pollution vehicles. As many speakers have already stated, we are at a tipping point. Every decision you make to reduce pollution today matters. I really want you to understand the urgency of this work to my family, and so many other Montana families. We have already experienced our first wildland fires in Montana. Our rivers are worryingly low. And we are gearing up for another hot and smoky summer. My kids are still pretty young, but they know that something is not right. Montana’s drought is killing farmers. Climate change is impacting every part of our lives—our economy and our way of life in Montana. Our kids are counting on you to take action to protect their future.
For these reasons, I urge EPA to set the strongest possible federal truck standards. We need to keep US automakers on track to meet ambitious pollution reduction goals as soon as possible.
I am also testifying because my family, like many Montana families, is impacted from air pollution from trucks. Livingston is a small town in a rural county on the northern edge of Yellowstone National Park. You might imagine that we have pretty good air quality, but like every other place, we experience local pollution from vehicles. It’s inescapable.
In our little town, we experience pollution from vehicles regularly. Livingston, like many towns in Montana, sits right off Interstate 90. The freeway closes when the weather gets bad, or the winds are too high, which is all too frequent an occurrence here, and heavy truck traffic is rerouted right through our downtown, right down Main Street, right past our elementary school. Sometimes traffic gets backed up for several miles. Semis, cars, trucks slowly inch through town, past schools, restaurants, and sidewalks. You can see the pollution in the air.
My kids are also personally impacted from pollution from vehicles idling at their schools. Like many places, parents idle their cars during pick up and drop off, which happens on the playground. It’s alarming to see our playground flanked on all sides by idling cars and air pollution.
We can and we must do better for our kids and for our communities.
An estimated 6 million children under 18 suffer from asthma. My son has three kids on his soccer team who have asthma. My husband is the coach, and he has to make judgment calls about whether it’s safe to practice or play games. Parents should not be making these decisions. Thinking back on my childhood, I can remember one time that a kid had an asthma attack at school. It was very scary. Now, as a parent, inhalers are a part of play dates, and the number of kids I know who experience asthma is astonishing. And those numbers are much higher in historically marginalized communities in urban areas, and the data is clear, communities of color are among the hardest hit.
We need your help. Local families and communities can work together to protect themselves from dangerous pollution, but we shouldn’t have to, and many especially vulnerable communities just don’t have the resources or time. We need your leadership to protect vulnerable children across our country from air pollution and climate change.
Strengthening truck standards is a simple step, and we can and must continue to do more to protect vulnerable communities from air pollution and climate change. I want my kids to know that we did everything we could to protect their future.
Thank you again for your time and your consideration.