CEDAR RAPIDS — Cleaner car emissions standards have boosted Iowa’s economy, spurred jobs and saved Iowans $370 million at the gas pump, advocates said Thursday, warning that a rollback by the Trump administration could cost U.S. consumers $400 billion through 2050 and increase transportation emissions by 10 percent in the next 15 years.
State Sen. Rob Hogg, Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson and other community leaders spoke at a news conference at the Cedar Rapids Public Library against the administration’s push to freeze existing federal fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards and to revoke permission that has allowed some states to set more rigorous standards.
The Democratic elected officials called on Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst to support states’ rights to adopt stronger vehicle pollution standards than those set by the federal government.
“Clean car standards provide better gas mileage, which reduces carbon pollution, saves consumers money, creates jobs and improves our health,” Hogg said.
Over the summer, four major automakers announced a deal with California to set higher standards for themselves. The Trump administration has sought to undo California’s regulations, which are followed by 13 other states.
But setting higher emissions standards has been one of the most effective tools in combating climate change, Oleson said. Oleson, who was elected to the board following the 2008 floods, said climate change makes extreme weather events like floods, heat waves and drought more frequent and intense.
“Iowans want to clean up the air, protect public health and save money at the pump,” Oleson said.
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Maureen McCue, coordinator of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a non-partisan group, voiced her concern about the “adverse effects” car pollution has on health.
Car pollution can cause and exacerbate asthma, she said, from which over 3,000 children and 15,000 adults in Linn County suffer.
Former Democratic Johnson County Supervisor Mike Carberry, an Iowa Farmers Union board member and Iowa Wind Energy Association board member, said farmers are not only victims of climate change, but an essential part of the solution.
“Farmers are under increasing pressure to prepare and plant their fields in a shorter window of acceptable weather conditions due to excessive rainfall,” Carberry said. “ ... The U.S. should transition to a clean energy economy by 2025, requiring zero carbon pollution, and should provide opportunities for farmers to use clean, smart farming methods and vehicles.”
Jan Patterson, a Marion resident, listened closely during the news conference. Patterson said clean car standards should be a non-partisan issue, but she’s afraid it’s becoming divisive.
“I’d like to see them take politics out of this and do this for the good of the state, any state. We should have the right to control that,” she said.
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