According to the 2023 State of the Air report by the American Lung Association, Los Angeles continues to have some of the worst air quality in the country, with many communities of color and low-income neighborhoods disproportionately affected. The report found that Los Angeles had more unhealthy ozone days and more 24-hour particle pollution than any other city in the country. This is unacceptable and demands immediate action from our elected officials and regulatory agencies.
As the lead pastor of McCarty Memorial Church in Los Angeles and Black civil rights leader, I am calling on the California Air Resources Board to approve the Advanced Clean Fleet rule at their meeting this week. The burden of air pollution in our city falls disproportionately on communities of color, and we cannot afford to wait any longer for action.
This is not just an abstract issue for my congregation and me. I personally suffer from asthma and I know first-hand: our community can’t breathe. I have seen the toll that air pollution takes on the health and well-being of our community members. I have prayed with families who have lost loved ones to respiratory illness. I have seen children struggle to breathe on smoggy days. And I have heard from seniors who feel trapped in their homes because the air outside is too dangerous for them to breathe.
We cannot continue to allow the fossil fuel industry to poison our communities and then turn a blind eye to the suffering it causes. Right now, forces are at work actively lobbying the Governor and CARB to delay the rule until there are more handouts to the fossil fuel industry to incentivize hydrogen fuel – 98% of which is made with fossil fuels. Our communities are tired of being outspent and outgunned when the moral teachings are written on the wall. It’s time to do the right thing. We need strong and immediate action to protect the health and well-being of our community.
And the Advanced Clean Fleet rule is a critical piece of that action. By requiring fleets to transition to zero-emissions vehicles, we can dramatically reduce the amount of harmful pollutants that are released into the air. This will not only help protect our health, but it will also create good-paying jobs in the clean energy sector and drive innovation and progress in our state.
Opponents of the rule have been lobbying for years to delay the transition to zero-emissions vehicles, even as they knew that it was inevitable. They have put their own profits ahead of the health and well-being of our community, and it is time for them to be held accountable.
We cannot afford to wait any longer for action. The health and well-being of our community depend on it. I urge the California Air Resources Board to approve the Advanced Clean Fleet rule and to take strong and immediate action to protect our air and our health at their meeting this Thursday and Friday.