By: Rachel Meyer, Ohio River Valley 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
My name is Rachel Meyer, and I am the Ohio River Valley Field Organizer for Moms Clean Air Force. Thank you for the opportunity to testify about this important proposal. I live in Independence Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. As an elementary school teacher, I have worked in San Francisco, California, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In both of these places, many of the children where I lived and worked suffered because of air pollution. Despite improvements in air quality in the past several decades, more than 40% of Americans still live in places where the air is unhealthy to breathe and much of that pollution comes from the transportation sector. Babies and children, whose bodies are rapidly developing, are disproportionately affected by air pollution. It can interfere with brain development and learning. Some may have been affected before they were even born. Pregnant women have an increased risk of premature birth and low birth weight babies when exposed to air pollution. Many of these children are from Black and brown and low-income communities.
There were days in Pittsburgh when the air quality was so bad that the students could not go outside to play. After years of living in areas with poor air quality, I too have developed asthma. At times, while outside with my students, I would be unable to speak due to an attack. I lived near a highway and thought I would escape the pollution from the traffic when I moved to a rural township. The trucks followed me. Here, we have heavy-duty vehicle traffic due to the presence of the oil and gas industry. Now I worry that my two-year-old daughter’s health is being affected by pollutants in our air.
Beyond the more immediate negative health impacts from pollution emitted by heavy-duty vehicles, there is also their contribution to climate change. The largest source of climate pollution in the US is the transportation sector, which is responsible for 29% of all climate pollution. It is crucial to have stronger standards for these vehicles, and it is imperative that we act now. 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, many in environmental justice communities, have suffered long enough, and the future of our entire planet is at risk as climate change progresses at increasing rates.
What are we leaving for young people? As a mother I worry for all the children. We cannot continue to allow the air they breathe to make them sick, and we cannot leave them to face more and more severe climate disasters because we did not act now. EPA’s proposal is on the right track, but it needs to go further to better protect children and other vulnerable groups. We need these standards now, not only for protection from the ill health effects of pollution from heavy-duty vehicles, but also to protect everyone from the dire effects of climate change. A rapid transition to zero-emitting trucks and buses is a great opportunity to make a huge positive impact. Again, thank you to EPA for the opportunity to testify.