Sylvia Brandt: Obama should move quickly on EPA standards

Last modified: Monday, February 10, 2014
To the editor:

Passenger vehicles are a major source of emissions causing dirty, unhealthy air. Commuters sitting in traffic and residents that live and work near major roadways and intersections breathe in this health-harming air for most of the day. This dirty air can trigger asthma attacks, stunt a child’s developing lungs and cause heart attacks.

This is why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must finalize its Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards proposal as promised this February. The proposal includes reducing the sulfur content in the gasoline we use to fuel our cars and trucks. This simple change would yield the air quality improvement equivalent to taking 33 million cars off the road. This would remove the emissions equivalent from more than all the cars in the states of Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington combined.

Thankfully U.S. Rep. James McGovern realizes the importance of clean, healthy air.

I applaud Congressman McGovern for supporting these standards. Rep. McGovern signed a letter urging EPA administrator Gina McCarthy to submit the standard to the White House for final review and on Jan. 24, the EPA sent its proposed safeguards to the White House for final review. I now urge President Barack Obama to move quickly to approve this common-sense public health safeguard and resist the temptation to allow further delays.

Once the EPA’s proposal is implemented, tens of thousands of asthma attacks and missed school and workdays will be avoided every year. The cost? Only a penny more per gallon of gasoline.

Sylvia Brandt

The writer is an associate professor of Public Policy at UMass Amherst and a volunteer with the American Lung Association of the Northeast