Just as soon as they first rolled off the assembly line, American vehicles were a symbol of freedom, a point of pride and they’ve become interminably linked with the rise of the middle class over the years. As higher fuel efficiency standards phase in — and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moves forward with rules to cut tailpipe emissions and clean up the fuel that we put in our light- and heavy-duty vehicles — the transformation of cars from a pollution problem to a pollution solution and a trophy of clean energy innovation is nearly complete.
This week BlueGreen Alliance’s Tom Conway — our Regional Program Manager for Indiana and Illinois — testified in support of proposed Tier 3 Standards in Chicago, IL. “This investment in pollution reduction represents a significant down payment toward curbing our greenhouse gas emissions, improving efficiency and job creation,” said Conway.
The implementation costs of the Tier 3 program will be offset by savings in health costs alone, in addition to improving quality of life for all Americans. The standards enjoy broad support across industry and consumer groups. The hearings represent a culmination of progress curbing vehicle carbon pollution. Cars release approximately 333 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, which is 20 percent of the world's total, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
The second of two EPA hearings concluded the first day of Air Quality Awareness Week. America’s working families deal firsthand with the impacts of dirty air in terms of missed work and school days, increased medical costs, and long-term health effects. Despite dramatic improvements in recent decades, ozone quality grades remain in the range of ‘C’ to ‘F’ for some areas, making it clear that there is room for improvement. EPA estimates the standards could prevent between 820 and 2,400 premature deaths annually and prevent 1.8 million lost school or work days.
Beyond improving air quality, the cost of implementing the standards will be offset by savings in health costs. Also, since pollution reduction is strongly tied to fuel efficiency, in addition to direct benefits to public health, these efforts will assist in curbing greenhouse gases that are causing climate change.
American innovation — and smart policies like Tier 3 — will contribute significantly to healthier families, cleaner skies, a strong auto industry and more opportunity for workers throughout the economy. Cleaner cars and cleaner fuels are a clear win-win for America, public health and the economy.