By: Tracy Sabetta, Ohio Field Organizer, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: June 2, 2021
About: Environmental Protection Agency Reconsideration of SAFE 1 Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0257
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Good morning and thank you so much for this opportunity to speak with you today about reinstating the long-standing authority for states to set their own greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks. My name is Tracy Sabetta, and I am a mother and a member of Moms Clean Air Force from Pickerington, OH, just outside of Columbus.
In Ohio, we pride ourselves on embracing state and local control over issues that are important to our communities. States must be able to protect their residents from the carbon dioxide pollution that is contributing to the climate crisis and threatening our health. By reinstating this authority, California and any other states that would choose to adopt stricter climate pollution standards for cars and light trucks would have that opportunity. This would reverse a policy adopted by the previous administration and demonstrate positive progress in cleaning up pollution from the transportation sector, the nation’s leading source of climate-warming carbon pollution.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, Ohio ranks seventh in the nation for total carbon emissions. The American Lung Association’s 2021 State of the Air Report also indicates that nearly 200,000 Ohio children are currently battling asthma. We also see racial disparities in these asthma rates as low-wealth and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) communities experience disproportionate harm from vehicle pollution. Restoring state authority to limit pollution from dirty vehicles would subsequently help advance environmental justice, addressing inequitable transportation-related health impacts and protecting our most vulnerable.
Ohio ranks fifth in the number of cars sold by state and lags embarrassingly behind in public transit infrastructure and opportunities. We need all the tools available in our toolbox to reduce harmful pollution and protect the health of our children and families. Reinstating this state authority gives us access to those tools again.
California and the 13 other states that have taken advantage of this provision within the Clean Air Act represent more than one-third of the nation’s auto market. Reinstating the authority to set stricter standards in these states will make a significant difference in pollution levels but could also have the added benefit of using market forces to encourage auto manufacturers to embrace more stringent national clean car standards across the board.
It is time for the Environmental Protection Agency to again prioritize public health over corporate and polluter profits. On behalf of the nearly 81,000 Moms Clean Air Force members in Ohio, I urge you to finalize the restoration of state authority and move swiftly toward setting strong federal clean car rules to ensure we achieve our climate goals. This includes putting the nation on a trajectory to make all new cars and light-duty trucks zero-emission vehicles in the near future.
Again, I thank you for this opportunity and ask that you put states back in the driver’s seat in deciding to go the extra mile to protect our children’s health from transportation pollution.