Cleaner Gasoline and Vehicles Deliver on the Promise of Healthier Air

Each day, American Lung Association volunteers and staff work hard to fight lung cancer, reduce the burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and prevent asthma attacks. On Monday, March 3, we took a step forward when I joined with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy for the announcement of new standards that will clean up gasoline and tailpipe emissions from motor vehicles. The Clean Air Act passed in 1970 promised all Americans, including those with lung disease, air that is clean, safe and healthy to breathe. The new standards are the next major move toward fulfilling the Clean Air Act's promise.

Cars, light trucks and SUVs are major sources of air pollution that can harm the health of any one, particularly the most vulnerable members of our communities such as children, the elderly, those who suffer from asthma, lung and heart disease, as well as those who live, work and go to school near major roadways.

EPA's action means so much to people like, Judy Weimer, one of our dedicated volunteers and advocates. Judy is a double lung transplant recipient and, last April, she testified at an EPA public hearing in Chicago. She shared that four years earlier she received the gift of life in the form of two new lungs that she named Lucy and Ethel. Judy, along with her Lucy and Ethel, cherish clean air. She shared how air pollution from traffic impacts her daily life. Judy knows that each breath she takes is precious and that the ability to breathe clean, healthy air is the key to maintaining her active life. It's people like Judy who spur us to continue fighting for healthy air for all.

The EPA noted that cleaner gasoline will provide immediate health benefits at a bargain - less than one penny a gallon. Nearly every car on the road will emit less pollution when gasoline sulfur is cut. And because vehicles and fuels are a system, low-sulfur gasoline will enable the next generation of vehicles to be even cleaner. Cleaner gasoline and vehicles will help reduce ozone and particulate matter, two of the most pervasive and challenging air pollutants. Thanks to these standards, there will be 19,000 fewer asthma attacks, nearly 300,000 fewer days when parents can't go to work or when kids miss school, and even 2,000 fewer premature deaths. Remember, these changes start as soon as the cleaner fuel is available for us to pump into our cars. The standards will cut as much air pollution from vehicles on the road today as taking 33 million cars off the road. That is why it is critical that the cleaner gasoline be available on January 1, 2017.

Like Judy, American Lung Association advocates and volunteers across the nation have urged EPA to put these standards in place. Our polling shows a 2- 1 majority of voters support the standards. Last month, nearly 500 physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and other health and medical professionals wrote to the president urging completion of this rule. Public health and medical groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association, American Public Health Association, American Thoracic Society, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Health Care Without Harm, National Association of County and City Health Officials and Trust for America's Health joined with the American Lung Association to push for these standards. We are pleased that the president and EPA listened.

These lifesaving standards will help Judy and millions of other Americans breathe easier.