PROVIDENCE, RI | June 7, 2023
A nationwide transition to clean, zero-emission passenger vehicles would have a dramatic impact on the air quality and health of Americans, according to a new report by the American Lung Association. The report, titled “Driving to Clean Air: Health Benefits of Zero-Emission Cars and Electricity,” highlights that a widespread transition to zero-emission passenger vehicles and electricity would result in up to 288 fewer deaths and $3.2B in public health benefits across Rhode Island by 2050.
As federal and state policymakers consider new vehicle standards, the Lung Association’s new “Driving to Clean Air” report illustrates the potential health benefits if all new passenger vehicles sold are zero-emission by 2035. The report also projects that the nation’s electric grid will be powered by clean, non-combustion renewable energy replacing fossil fuels by 2035.
Nationally, a widespread transition to electric passenger vehicles, including cars, SUVs and light pickup trucks, would result in up to 89,300 fewer premature deaths and $978 billion in health benefits from 2020 to 2050. Here in Rhode Island, the transition would generate $3.2B in public health benefits and result in up to:
- 288 avoided deaths
- 5,430 avoided asthma attacks
- 29,400 avoided lost workdays
Rhode Island has already taken important steps towards a cleaner transportation sector, including recent proposals to adopt zero-emission trucking standards and updated zero-emission vehicle standards for passenger cars. By moving to adopt the Advanced Clean Cars II program, Rhode Island can join a growing list of states improving health locally through increasing zero-emission vehicle sales into the next decade. This program has the strong support of the American Lung Association as a key air pollution control measure. Nationally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently rereleased a proposed rule that would create stricter emissions standards for cars and could make two-thirds of new passenger vehicles zero-emission by 2032. The EPA is currently taking comments on this proposed rule.
“Too many people across Rhode Island are impacted by the pollution caused by the transportation sector, including our children, grandparents and loved ones living with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer,” said Daniel Fitzgerald, Director of Advocacy at the American Lung Association. “We urge our state leaders to take action today to invest in the transition to zero-emission vehicles, which will improve our air quality and health.”
The transportation sector is a leading source of air pollution and the nation’s biggest source of carbon pollution that drives climate change and associated public health harms. According to the 2023 “State of the Air” report, approximately 120 million people in the U.S. live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution. Low-income communities and many communities of color too often bear disproportionate burdens from air pollution broadly, and transportation pollution, specifically.
This new report that focuses on passenger vehicles stems from the more comprehensive March 2022 American Lung Association “Zeroing In On Healthy Air” report.
The technologies and systems are in place to make these benefits a reality if leaders act to implement policies and invest in the transition today. The American Lung Association is urging the EPA to finalize strong pollution limits for new cars that drive a nationwide transition to zero-emission vehicles and for states to use their authority to establish more health-protective vehicle standards.
Learn more and see the full report at Lung.org/EV.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org. To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at Lung.org/events.
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