How cleaner cars will drive down air pollution

We’re closer to cleaner air with new limits on vehicle pollution

Max Wengroff

As we enter 2022, there are a number of environmental wins worth celebrating from the past year. One such victory came this December when the Environmental Protection Agency finalized a new clean cars rule that will help cut air pollution and slow global warming. 

Over the past year, Environment America has called on the Biden Administration to enact the strongest limits possible on tailpipe pollution by testifying at hearings and collecting more than 11,000 comments from our supporters. We also partnered with health professionals to make the case that stronger rules are critical to protecting public health. Thanks to our advocacy alongside other environmental and health groups, the standards in the final rule are much stronger than what was initially proposed in August 2021. 

This is great news for our air quality because the EPA’s new rule will result in more than 3.1 billion tons of avoided greenhouse gas emissions through 2050. Beyond setting stronger standards for clean cars, the EPA is also in the process of setting strong emissions standards for heavy duty trucks. 

Photo: blende12 via Pixabay

The new clean cars rule is a great step toward cleaner air. Later this year, EPA will consider the next set of standards for cars made after 2026, and we’ll be advocating that they set a path forward to all zero-emission cars and trucks by 2035 or sooner.  

Reducing air pollution is necessary to protect our health. Produced primarily by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels (such as the gasoline and diesel we put in our cars and trucks), air pollution causes serious damage to our lungs, hearts and brains. Even limited exposure to some of the worst air pollutants, including particulate matter and ground-level ozone, is linked to respiratory issues, higher risk of cancer, worsened mental and neural health, and premature death. A 2019 study estimated that transportation emissions were associated with more than one-quarter of U.S. deaths caused by fine particulate matter produced by human activities. Exposure to air pollution can also cause inflammation that makes us more susceptible to contracting other respiratory infections like COVID-19. 

Air pollution isn’t a problem that will just blow away in the wind. That’s why Environment America has been advocating for policies that will clear the air. Transportation is both a major source of air pollution and the leading contributor to the climate crisis. Everything we do to cut pollution from our cars will protect our health and climate at the same time. If we fail to act, we’ll continue warming our planet, which is likely to make air pollution worse in the coming years. 

Though air pollution is a serious problem, the solutions are readily available. Since the Clean Air Act took effect more than a half-century ago, the United States has made dramatic strides in reducing pollution from the air we breathe. Cleaning up pollution from our cars is one of the best paths to clean air.

Photo: skdunning via Pixabay

Without strong action from our government, air pollution from our cars and trucks will continue to rise and threaten our health with more asthma attacks, cancer and other negative health effects. I’m thankful that the EPA chose to implement a clean cars rule that is better for the health of our environment and the health of our lungs.

Cover Photo: webandi via Pixabay


Max Wengroff

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