NO TRUCKER LEFT BEHIND: PROTECTING THE AIR WE BREATHE

On June 30, LCV Government Affairs Fellow Erin Keleske delivered a powerful personal testimony before the Environmental Protection Agency in support of the California Waiver: Advanced Clean Trucks, Omnibus Low NOx, and HD Emission Warranty Regulations. As the granddaughter of a lifelong union truck driver, Keleske told the EPA that regulations will not only benefit the environment, but they will also help protect the health of both truck drivers and predominantly BIPOC and low-income roadside communities. 

Keleske recalled that, though truck drivers like her grandfather can experience deep fulfillment through their careers, they also face great challenges and risk their health with each new year on the job. As global supply chain shortages continue, truck drivers are essential to keeping our nation running, but they should not be expected to sacrifice their health to ensure access to the essential goods needed for everyday life. 

Read Keleske’s full testimony on why states are ready to lead on climate change and vehicle emissions, as well as why the EPA must approve the California waiver under the Clean Air Act quickly and in full

 

Testimony in Support of the California Waiver: Advanced Clean Trucks, Omnibus Low NOx, and HD Emission Warranty Regulations 

Erin Keleske, Government Affairs Fellow, League of Conservation Voters

June 30 ,2022

Hello and thank you to the EPA for the opportunity to speak today. My name is Erin Keleske, and I’m a Government Affairs Fellow with the League of Conservation Voters, a Master’s candidate at Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment, and the proud granddaughter of a lifelong Teamster union truck driver.

The League of Conservation Voters, or LCV, builds political power for people and the planet, influencing policy, holding politicians accountable, and winning elections. This is how we fight to build a better world with clean air, clean water, public lands, and a safe climate, protected by a just and equitable democracy. LCV, our 30 state affiliates, and our over one million members strongly urge the EPA to approve California’s waiver in full, allowing the state to enact the Advanced Clean Truck and Heavy Duty Omnibus rules. 

My grandfather drove trucks for over 35 years, nationally for Express Freight Line and later within the state of Wisconsin. Amidst his long journeys he saw some of the greatest natural wonders our country has to offer, he met people from all walks of life, and still talks about the local diners he found tucked away in small, rural towns. But he also shares stories of great personal risk, of long, dangerous nights spent in truck cabins, and of time lost with loved ones. 

A 2008 study by UC Berkeley and Harvard found that workers who are regularly exposed to diesel exhaust, as truck drivers are, exhibit higher instances of lung cancer and asthma. These risks increase with each additional year on the job. While these conditions have incrementally improved, now is the time, now more than ever, to take bold action to reduce NOx emissions from trucks. My family has deeply felt the sacrifices truck drivers make to keep this country running, and as the events of the past year continue to disrupt global supply chains, the whole world feels them too. These essential workers should not be expected to sacrifice their health. 

The slate of regulations proposed by California will not only help protect these essential workers from poor air quality, they will also protect the tens of millions of Americans who live near high-traffic corridors. These “Diesel Death Zones” are disproportionately home to Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income families. The EPA has a responsibility to protect these communities who currently bear most of the negative health impacts of NOx pollution. 

The Clean Air Act was written with the express intent of pushing technological innovation, and that’s exactly what California and several other states have done for decades. Six states have already enacted the Advanced Clean Truck Rule and several others have demonstrated their support for these emission goals, including my current state of North Carolina. These commitments are proof that the states want to lead on climate change and vehicle emissions. The public is ready for a transition to a cleaner transportation future and California is leading the way. 

The League of Conservation Voters urge you to approve the California waiver under the Clean Air Act, quickly and in full, for our environment but also for the health of essential workers like my grandfather and the resilient roadside communities he spent a lifetime visiting and cherishing. Thank you for your time. 

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