Thursday, February 9, 2012

Testimony of Pennsylvania Clean Air's Carol Weinbaum at EPA/NHTSA Clean Car Hearing in Philly

Welcome to Philadelphia. So glad you came, and to a Center City location, easy to access by public transit!! Speaking as a concerned citizen of our city, I’m someone who is a joiner of groups such as the Sierra Club and the League of Women Voters. I support actions and legislation which are based not in selfish interest nor in economic gain, but in benefit to all Americans, for now and into future years.

Important To Reduce Gasoline Consumption
Your efforts on behalf of reducing the use of automobile fuel and stressing the value of its economies are much appreciated. It is my belief that too many of us use too much gas, spend too much time in our cars, and think too little about the consequences of those actions. If we do not voluntarily reduce that usage, then we must have governmental and legislative actions to enforce the value of such reduction.

The League of Women Voters last July studied effects of gasoline emissions and other pollutants on air quality, and issued a Clean Air Promise. I will read brief excerpts from that:

We indicate that good health of all citizens is impacted by poor air quality, and we know that emissions from motor vehicles are responsible for a hefty portion of that unhealthy air. Efforts should be made now and into the future to reduce bad effects.

Market Forces Insufficient
I have here a part of a publication by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) which indicates many ways in which auto travel may be costly. Last year, citing this AARP figure, American households spent $3,235 on gas, which was $700 more than in 2010. In a time of tight budgets, low interest on our savings accounts, and so many home mortgage foreclosures, don’t we all wish that this expenditure could be going down instead of up? Shouldn’t the current high price of a gallon of gas be motivation enough to buy more economical vehicles? Shouldn’t we discourage the purchase of large vehicles such as minivans, crossovers and trucks which continue to ‘guzzle’ gas, even under the 2016 goals proposed? Licensing fees on large cars and trucks ought to be significantly high, so that potential owners would balance their need for such cars with the costs of ownership. Perhaps the price of gas doesn’t do it.

Important For Government To Act
We could also discuss the use of large amounts of gasoline as a balance of payments issue. Let’s not forget that much of the fuel we consume is bought from other countries. The top 5 of those are: Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela and Nigeria. Is it wise for us to continue to let dollars flow out to those countries? Some of them have political systems we may not support with our words, but we do with our wealth.

All the concerns I express are those of an ‘ordinary’ citizen. I have no expertise in chemistry to understand hydrofluorocarbons, CO2 emissions or scientifically measuring other air quaity concerns. Nor do I know much about the issues of climate change, ozone layer depletion nor the harm to future generations if we let these matters go unchecked.

I leave those matters to you, to the experts in our government, in agencies whom we entrust with our decision-making on matters too difficult for others of us to fully comprehend. Please know that there are many, many Philadelphians who did not come here today, who are likewise concerned, and whose health and economic well-being is tied up in the issues that you decide.

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