Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) Comment in Support of Safe 1 Reconsideration
Comment to the United State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Docket Number EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0257
The nonprofit Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) inspires and mobilizes people of faith and conscience to take bold and just action on climate change. We advocate for climate solutions recognizing that people of all faith traditions are called to love our neighbors, especially the most vulnerable, and to be good stewards of Creation.
IPL, and the thousands of houses of worship and millions of people of faith that we work with all across the country, believe that the California waiver should remain in place and the existing vehicle standards should be strengthened. We believe that all of us must work together to reduce pollution and implement sensible solutions to the climate crisis. Our federal government shares in this sacred responsibility to reduce carbon pollution from the transportation sector, the largest domestic source of the pollution that contributes to climate change.
For four decades, states have had the authority under the Clean Air Act to adopt stronger tailpipe standards than those set by the federal government. Without this mandate to innovate, we could still be driving inefficient, polluting cars burning leaded gasoline. America’s most significant action to clean up the transportation sector occurred in mid-2012, when auto companies, federal agencies, and the state of California agreed to a long overdue new set of clean car standards to boost vehicles’ fuel efficiency and reduce carbon pollution from tailpipes.
IPL supports reinstating the waiver so that California may again advance a clean car program, and other states may follow this program to support cleaner cars. President Biden’s restoration of this Clean Air Act authority is essential for the many states looking to push ahead with ambitious and innovative clean vehicle initiatives.
Significantly for people of faith, this is an issue of justice. Black, Indigenous, low-wealth, and people of color are more likely to live near freeways and suffer disproportionately from pollution-related illnesses like asthma and cardiovascular disease. The health of lower-income families and communities of color is disproportionately damaged by tailpipe pollution. Children, the elderly, and those with chronic illness are also disproportionately harmed by air pollution.
Additionally, the clean car standards are the most effective policy currently available to combat climate change, which disproportionately affects those same communities. Loss of the California waiver would hurt low-wealth communities and communities of color the most. The Earth is a gift from God, and we must protect it. Turning the nation’s back on a policy that protects our common home would be wrong. Reversing a policy that protects the most vulnerable would be a travesty.
This is why, last year, hundreds of clergy from around the country signed a letter that reads in part:
As religious leaders from throughout the United States, we believe that humanity shares a responsibility to be thoughtful stewards of Creation. All of us must work together to reduce pollution and implement sensible solutions to the climate crisis…Your recent decision to oppose states’ rights and cleaner cars is, quite clearly, an immoral decision that moves us in the wrong direction. Choosing to make less efficient vehicles isn’t just wasteful—it’s an issue of justice. Children, the elderly, those with pre-existing health conditions, low-income and black and brown communities are all suffering disproportionately from increased pollution and from climate catastrophes. It is unacceptable for your companies to shirk your responsibility to make cleaner, safer vehicles.
We need to continue to improve fuel economy in combustion engines as we move toward all electric vehicles. IPL supports reinstating the waiver so that California may advance a clean car program, and other states may follow this program to advance cleaner cars.
We ask President Biden to finalize restoration of state authority and set strong federal clean car rules to ensure we achieve our climate goals. These include:
- Restoring national standards at least to levels set during the Obama-Biden administration;
- Establishing a 2030 standard for cars and light-duty trucks that achieves fleet average greenhouse gas emissions 60 percent or more below today’s average;
- Putting the nation on a trajectory to make all new cars and light-duty trucks zero-emission vehicles no later than 2035
- Ensuring all new trucks and buses are zero-emission no later than 2040.
Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) and state affiliates:
Illinois IPL/Faith in Place
New Mexico IPL
New York IPL
Washington IPL/Earth Ministry
Interfaith Power & Light is a national nonprofit organization with 40 state affiliates and 22,000 congregations in all 50 states. IPL inspires and mobilizes people of faith and conscience to take bold and just action on climate change.