By Katie Anger
CAROLINA NEWS & REPORTER
Community leaders spoke in front of the State House on Tuesday, urging Washington leaders to continue to promote and maintain clean car standards to protect the health of South Carolinians.
These clean car standards were enacted in 2012 by the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These standards, set for light-duty vehicles such as cars, trucks and SUVs, are supposed to almost double the efficiency of new vehicles by 2025.
So far, these standards have already saved South Carolina $530 million to date, and are expected to save each household about $2,900 by 2030. It is also anticipated to save enough gasoline to fill 7,939 Olympic-sized swimming pools as well as create 9,000 new jobs, as the savings will be pumped back into local economy, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Jenna Allen, the USC student government secretary of environmental affairs, spoke up about the health impacts of air pollution. Allen said that over 25 million Americans currently suffer from asthma; 6 million of those are children.
Shakeila James, a mother of three from Camden, spoke on behalf of Moms Clean Air Force as the voice of mothers across the state who are worried about the quality of air and their children’s health. She noticed the effects of pollution as a child herself, but didn’t think anything of it until later on in life. Now, she sees the side effects her child is dealing with now, and says that changes to these EPA standards for the worse will make air pollution worse.
“My son, and every child everywhere, deserves to play outside without the fear of losing his breath," James said.
As these standards continue to be tested and changed, all five speakers urged different and better methods of transportation.
Samuel Scheib, the manager of transit planning at The Comet, a Columbia bus system, emphasized the important role transit systems and other more friendly means of travel had on Atlanta during the 1996 summer Olympic Games. Scheib says that pollution dropped significantly during this time and that emergency room visits and hospitalizations for asthma dropped as well.
“Making the decision to use transit is a basic first step in reducing air pollution, but reducing pollution from automobiles is also essential," Scheib said.