For Latino families, like mine, protecting vehicle emission standards means taking care of our children

Emily Zamora

*This article originally ran in Spanish on Univision

As the mother of one of the 6 million children across the country who suffer from asthma attacks, I was devastated to learn that the Trump administration is moving forward with its plan to throw America’s clean car standards in reverse. Rolling back these standards would pollute our air, force families to spend billions more dollars on gas, and could even put lives at risk.

My son William was just recently diagnosed with asthma, following his first asthma attack. He’s three years old. William is an energetic toddler, full of life, and seeing him struggle to breathe was heart-wrenching. Thinking that our family might have to see him suffer again breaks my heart.

Emily Zamora and her son William, who was recently diagnosed with asthma

By rolling back federal clean car standards, the Trump administration is putting the wishes of auto lobbyists over people — and over children like my son. Not only will these rollbacks increase the pollution in our air, but they will also undercut our nation’s response to climate change. In the United States, the transportation sector recently became the largest source of the carbon pollution fueling climate change. Undoing these standards will expose millions of Americans to more climate-changing carbon pollution and jeopardize our health.

Knowing the pollution that comes from diesel vehicles, my family and I joined Chispa Nevada’s Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign to transition diesel school buses into electric school buses that won’t pollute the air our son breathes. That’s why it’s important to us that leaders in our states, and in Washington, D.C., not only commit to making our buses cleaner, but also oppose President Trump’s plan to gut vital standards that make our cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs pollute less.

Rolling back the clean car standards will lead to more tailpipe pollution, which has been linked to many health problems, including the asthma my son suffers from. But it’s not limited to asthma: William and other children like him are at elevated risk of developing heart and lung problems from breathing in dirty air. And Latino families like mine will pay the steepest price.

Latinos and other communities of color are already more likely to live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution. Compared to non-Hispanic white children, Latino children are twice as likely to die from asthma. For African American children, it’s even worse. They’re 10 times more likely to die from asthma. Protecting federal clean car standards means protecting the health of our children and the future of our communities.

In addition to the negative health impacts, rolling back clean car standards will mean that families like mine across my home state of Nevada — and our country — will have to spend more at the gas pump. The current standards could save consumers as much as $5,700 per car and $8,200 per truck over the lifetime of their vehicle. This is money we could spend on groceries, rent, medical bills, or child care. Every dollar we can save helps our family.

Instead of protecting these money-saving standards that are working to make our communities healthier, the Trump administration is working to line the pockets of their allies in the oil and gas industry. Trump’s reckless plan means that the most vulnerable among us will be hurt first and worst by dirty air, toxic water, and the increasing impacts of climate change.

The resignation of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt in July was a step in the right direction. Now, EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler must commit to upholding the EPA’s mission to protect our health and environment. The EPA deserves a clean start, and that starts with Acting Administrator Wheeler respecting our environmental laws, making decisions guided by science, and putting our children’s lives ahead of special interests.

It makes no sense to deny our families cleaner air, vehicle cost savings, and healthier lives. My son William deserves a bright, healthy future, as does every child in America. It’s time that the Trump administration puts us first by protecting us from vehicle pollution.

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