In my lifetime, there’s never been a moment when it’s harder to breathe easily. I mean that both figuratively and literally. Metaphorically speaking, we’re all holding our breath as America and the rest of the world fight our way through the novel coronavirus pandemic. Then there is the literal impact of COVID-19. It attacks the respiratory system, which makes simply inhaling oxygen nearly impossible for many seriously afflicted with the virus.
With all this in mind, more than ever, we should be focusing on the health and well-being of every person. And, yet, during this national emergency, the Trump administration appears to be doing the opposite. Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that they are weakening clean car standards that protect our climate and our health.
Here in North Carolina — like everywhere else — this is a shocking decision. In fact, it’s the opposite of progress.
In our state, transportation already accounts for 70 percent of our air pollution. Under normal circumstances, we should be looking to increase the amount of electric vehicles on the road and public transportation available — instead of abandoning the clean cars standards that help keep us safe.
Considering our current situation, it is particularly reprehensible. A recent study from Harvard University researchers concluded that those who face greater exposure to air pollution are at a greater risk of dying from COVID-19. Now is not the time to exacerbate that danger,
But even when the coronavirus crisis subsides, the problems associated with dirty cars will still be with us. Not only will the air pollution continue to choke our lungs, but auto emissions will also continue to fuel the climate crisis. Without proactive measures the negative impacts of fossil fuel-driven transportation will only accelerate.
We cannot afford to go in reverse when it comes to air pollution or climate change. For North Carolinians, what must be done is clear. We must push back against these rollbacks and urge our U.S.Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr to speak out again against weaker emission standards. Let’s put our health and well-being first — for both a better today and tomorrow.