Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Cutting Pollution for Our Health

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Cutting Pollution for Our Health

Ella Kissi-Debrah had severe asthma, frequently visiting the ER with cardiac and respiratory arrest. She died in February 2013. On Dec. 16, in a landmark decision in the UK, the coroner’s court found that air pollution “made a material contribution“ to Ella’s death.

Under the Clean Air Act, Virginia has the legal authority to limit tailpipe pollution. Cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks are the largest source and produce greenhouse gases and other pollutants that harm us all, particularly children and the elderly. In 2016, Virginia had 750 deaths from transportation pollution.

Virginia Delegates Lamont Bagby and Richard “Rip” Sullivan are working on legislation to reduce tailpipe emissions by joining 13 other states in the Advanced Clean Car Program. This program addresses both low emissions vehicles (LEV) and zero emissions vehicles (ZEV).

The LEV component reduces total emissions from gas- and diesel-powered vehicles. Car manufacturers must meet emissions standards based on average emissions across their entire fleet. Thus, manufacturers decide what combination of vehicles to sell to meet the standards. Buyers can still decide which vehicle to buy. Over time, the standard will get more stringent.

The ZEV component requires that approximately 8% of new vehicles sold in Virginia be electric or other zero-emission technology. Consumer demand for electric vehicles in Virginia is higher than supply. A ZEV standard would make more electric models available, and competition will reduce prices.

The Advanced Clean Car Program has a two-year lag between when the regulation is finalized and when manufacturers must comply. Therefore, time is of the essence. The Virginia Assembly’s next legislative session begins Wednesday, Jan. 13. Let your representatives know you want cleaner cars. I’ll be writing Senator Peterson and Delegate Keam, and I’ll be doing it for our health.

Find your representatives at https://virginiageneralassembly.gov.

Linda Brown