Ann Mesnikoff

The Midwest wants cleaner cars

The heartland has always been a hotbed of transportation innovation. We must continue to respond to the challenges of our time, and strong vehicle standards are the best way forward.

The Biden EPA is in the process of addressing the Trump administration rollback of clean car standards. As ELPC has detailed in previous blog posts, this process has been a long and winding road, but strong standards are critical to helping avoid more devastating impacts of climate change. ELPC gathered signatures from 159 everyday folks and brought together a coalition of 25 Midwestern organizations in support of strong clean car standards, healthier air, and climate action.

Read the full letter here

Here are some highlights from our letter:

It matters for the Midwest

Climate change poses great risks to the Midwest and the Great Lakes. This region is home to 61 million people, precious natural resources, and several critical industries, including agriculture and automobile manufacturing. The available water supply helps to drive the regional economy, as fishing alone injects over $5 billion into the economies of Great Lakes states.

However, temperatures are already rising in the Midwest due to climate change. Warmer temperatures will increasingly impact public health by exacerbating deadly heat waves, worsening air quality, and affecting our food system. Increased storm intensity, flooding, runoff, and algal growth all threaten our ecosystem, freshwater supplies, and the economies that depend on them. Recent weather-related disasters are already wreaking havoc on our communities, like the latest devastating flooding in Detroit and the derecho that pummeled Iowa in 2020 and cost more than many hurricanes in damages.

Slashing Carbon Pollution

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has a statutory duty to control air pollution, including motor vehicle emissions. These climate-changing emissions endanger public health and welfare, so EPA must respond with standards that match the urgency of the crisis.

EPA’s more stringent “Alternative 2” proposal is feasible and far more beneficial than the base proposal. Alternative 2 would include lower tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions, greater consumer benefits, and less manufacturer loopholes. Each year that automakers can exploit “flexibilities” to continue selling polluting vehicles with little to no change in greenhouse gas emissions undermines our ability to address the climate crisis. EPA must act swiftly to set strong standards, so U.S. car manufacturers can continue to drive innovation and meet the challenge of the moment.

Supporting Innovation & Manufacturing

Analysis by the Blue Green Alliance and Natural Resources Defense Council concluded that there were nearly 290,000 jobs in the advanced technology vehicle sector. These are workers making more efficient cars and trucks possible. Across the Midwest, according to that report, there were a total of 151,714 jobs in 480 facilities associated with making cleaner vehicles. Three states—Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio—topped the list.

Strong emission standards from EPA will support the auto manufacturing that is critical to the economies and well-being of Midwest states—from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, to the Dakotas.

Biden’s EPA Must Act

As a result of the prior administration’s rollback, the United States has lost years of emissions reductions as the urgency for action on climate change mounts daily. EPA must act urgently now to achieve emissions reductions, by adopting the more stringent “Alternative 2” proposal.

This region has always been a hub of transportation innovation, and we must be on the forefront of the next technology to improve quality of life, economic progress, and public health for years to come.

Ann Mesnikoff,

Federal Legislative Director

Ann Mesnikoff is the federal legislative director at ELPC, working in Washington, D.C., with the Midwest Congressional Delegation and national coalitions to advance supportive clean energy, clean water and clean air, and transportation reform policies.

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