Asheville & Durham Elected Officials and Advocates Speak Out Against Rollback of U.S. Clean Car Standards During COVID-19 Pandemic

Media Contacts
Drew Ball

(Asheville and Durham, NC) — Today, State Senator Mike Woodard (D-22) and State Representative Brian Turner (D-116) joined Dr. Robert A. Parr, DO, a Medical Advocate for Healthy Air for Clean Air Carolina, and Drew Ball, State Director for Environment North Carolina, to speak out against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rollback of U.S. clean car standards in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual press conference was hosted by Environment North Carolina. 

On March 31st, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler finalized a rollback of federal clean car standards, right at the onset of a public health and economic crisis. These standards have been successful in protecting the health of North Carolinians and saving families money at the pump. With the transportation sector now the largest source of carbon pollution in the nation, speakers emphasized how these standards combat air pollution and fight climate change. Increased air pollution is making COVID-19 more deadly, particularly for low income communities and communities of color, and causing North Carolina to experience more dangerous and frequent extreme weather events like hurricanes, flooding, and droughts. 

“For over a decade, I have been working on transportation issues and currently serve on the Transportation committee in the North Carolina State Senate. It is clear to me that these issues are linked to the health and wellbeing of our state, and we need clean car standards to move us forward. The EPA’s dangerous decision to roll back these life-saving standards puts our progress in reverse and must be opposed by all those across North Carolina,” said State Senator Mike Woodard (D-22). 

Even without a pandemic, living with air pollution has been linked to higher rates of lung disease like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to the American Lung Association, nearly half of people in the U.S. live in areas where the air is unhealthy. North Carolina is no stranger to the dangers of air pollution, and over 260,000 children and 760,000 adults suffer from asthma in our state. 

“As a doctor, I know how damaging air pollution can be to one’s health, especially during a global health crisis that directly impacts respiratory function. We need strong clean car standards to keep all North Carolinians healthy and to ensure everyone can breathe safe, clean air,” said Dr. Robert A. Parr, DO. 

Since implementation of the standards, drivers across the U.S. have saved more than $113 billion and counting, with North Carolina residents saving $1.2 billion to date. If these money-saving standards remain in place, families throughout North Carolina will save an average of $3,300 at the gas pump and expect 22,500 new jobs by 2030. 

“Here in Asheville, our vibrant tourism economy would not be the same without clean air. We need to ensure our state has the necessary tools at its disposal to take on air pollution. The EPA’s dangerous rollback does the opposite – preventing North Carolina from taking action against deadly tailpipe pollution now and in the future,” said State Representative Brian Turner (D-116). 

These rollbacks defy logic and common sense and they’re a failure of the EPA to carry out the agency’s mission of protecting human health and the environment. The clean car standards were a huge achievement that brought together diverse stakeholders, environmental groups, consumer advocates, and nearly the entire automobile industry. This rollback throws that all out the window and will result in more kids suffering through asthma attacks, families spending more at the pump, and more global warming pollution that puts our future at risk. We need all of our state’s elected officials to fight for our state’s health, clean air, and for the future of our planet – before it is too late,” said Environment North Carolina State Director Drew Ball. 

For a video of the press conference, click HERE.