I live in the San Jose neighborhood in Albuquerque, which is well known as a low-income area where people of color and the Latino community live. My house is one mile away from an interstate highway, near the railroad, and a few steps away from what was once an oil transfer station and is now a heavy-duty truck company.
I have three children. Like any mother, they are my priority, and I want the best for them. I want them to grow up in a healthy community free of pollution. I worry every day about how air and climate pollution will affect my children’s health and development.
Communities like mine are seeing the health impacts of air pollution from ground transportation – asthma, heart attacks, stroke and lung infections, to name just a few.
Transportation is a major source of the smog-forming pollution that makes me so concerned about my children’s safety. It is also the nation’s largest source of climate-warming pollution and a contributing factor in the increased frequency of extreme heat, drought and wildfires in New Mexico.
I am concerned about climate conditions, so we installed solar panels on our house and drive an electric vehicle to reduce our environmental impact, but we are only one family. Eliminating emissions from heavy-duty vehicles is essential for making strides toward desperately needed cleaner air in communities like mine.
According to a recent American Lung Association report, New Mexico could prevent 273 premature deaths and save $3 billion in health costs related to polluted air by transitioning to zero-emitting electricity and transportation.
Electrifying heavy-duty vehicles is a necessary transition, and it is exciting to see the Biden administration making this issue a high priority. For the first time in more than 20 years, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed strengthening pollution standards for heavy-duty trucks, including 18-wheelers, school buses and delivery trucks.
Zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles are already available with more being developed, and by 2027 electric freight trucks and buses will become less expensive to purchase and operate than diesel vehicles. They are American-made and provide good jobs. In addition to the economic benefits, the transition to zero-emission heavy duty trucks will save an estimated 57,000 lives.
The EPA’s proposal to limit truck pollution is a welcome step forward, but it does not go far enough. It must go further in reducing deadly NOx pollution and put America on a path toward 100% electrification of polluting big-rigs, trucks and buses. All new trucks can and should be pollution-free by 2035.
Parents across the country want to see this rapid transition. We need forward-looking federal standards in place that quickly cut harmful pollution from heavy-duty vehicles, meet the climate crisis and provide cleaner air for our children and communities.
Everyone has the right to breathe clean air, and the EPA must lead the way to getting us there.