Deadline to sign: June 21st, 2023
Dear President Biden and EPA Administrator Regan,
As faith leaders from diverse religious and spiritual traditions, we speak with one voice in support of bold and just climate solutions. Climate change is a moral issue that is most harmful to those least responsible for creating the problem. People of faith and conscience recognize the need for bold, new transportation solutions, and clean cars and light trucks are an integral step towards addressing the climate crisis. Today we write to ask you to move swiftly to enact robust light-duty vehicle multi-pollutant emissions standards. As a nation, we have a moral imperative to enact the most stringent light-duty vehicle standards in order to address our historically unsafe pollutant emissions and to protect our public health and Shared Home.
Transportation is currently the single largest source of climate pollution in the United States.In 2020, the national passenger vehicle fleet represented approximately 94% of the nation’s on-road vehicles and generated over one million tons of ozone- and particle-forming NOx emissions, which create dangerous smog. In order for the U.S to meet our Paris Climate Agreement goals we need the strongest possible long-term standards—beyond model year 2026— that will put the country on a path to a 100% zero-emission new vehicle sales target by 2035.
It is critical to remember that the climate crisis is a challenge of racial, economic, and generational justice, and these rules target air pollution that disproportionately harms marginalized communities of color and low-wealth communities that reside in counties closest to major freeways. Implementing the strongest light-duty vehicle standards is a matter of environmental justice, and these standards would deliver massive emission reductions and life-saving relief to frontline communities.
In addition, electrifying cars and light trucks will be key to improving air quality and saving lives across the nation. More than 119 million American residents currently live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution. According to research from Harvard University, more than 8 million people died from the effects of fossil fuel combustion in 2018, meaning that fossil fuels like oil and coal are linked to 1 in 5 deaths worldwide. Pollutants caused by burning fossil fuels have been linked to early death, heart attacks, respiratory disorders, stroke, and asthma.
It is of the utmost importance that standards require tighter limits on internal combustion engine vehicles in order to continually make these vehicles cleaner as manufacturers transition to zero-emission cars.
Now is the time to maximize the impact of our national clean car standards—the most effective policy that the federal government has to reduce dangerous air pollution, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and save consumers money at the pump. As policymakers, you have a critical and sacred role in helping to achieve these goals. As faith leaders, we urge you to establish strong light-duty vehicle multi-pollutant emissions standards that put our nation on a trajectory to a zero-emissions transportation future, and we ask you to redouble efforts to announce the draft rule before the end of 2023. For more than a decade, people of faith and conscience have advocated for strong safeguards on greenhouse gas pollution from transportation. Since then, the climate crisis has only accelerated, taking an enormous toll on human life, our communities, and our world. We have a moral responsibility to act right now as a nation to do all we can to address climate change for our communities, future generations, and our Sacred Earth.
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