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We cannot allow for “business as usual” to occur any longer

Last week, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released an update on their momentous Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) rule-making. If passed, this standard would be the first of its kind in the nation to mandate that manufacturers build zero-emission vehicles in the State of California. 

It would be an understatement to say we are excited about it’s potential. 

For many of us that live through the summers of countless smog violations and the lingering threat of attacks on our respiratory systems, the ACT can provide us a vision for smog-free clear skies and healthy strong lungs. However, this potential will only be reached if the rule accurately reflects the given need. The last thing we should do is deny the science in front of us and make decisions based on politics. There are human lives at stake.

When this rule was first proposed, a dangerously low standard was offered to us. Not even a drop in the bucket. And granted, when you have around 1,000 diesel trucks pass by you an hour, our bar is pretty high. 

CARB responded to a diverse set of stakeholders asking for more electric trucks to be mandated and increased their goals. Unfortunately, this increase was still not sufficient enough to meet the endless growth and impact the freight industry has on our families As communities that are on the frontlines of the freight industry, we have lost time in our lives waiting for change. So ten years from now, we want to know that our government agencies did all they could in that moment. And we know that they can. Therefore, we ask CARB officials this question: what is holding you back? 

When we bring our stories and solutions to CARB, it comes from our lived experiences. Science and data may explain how dire the situation is, but it will not move you the way living through it does. As advocates of Environmental Justice, we are constantly defying the government agencies and industries that want us to settle for incremental change. In this terrible moment we’re living through, we know our community members deserve answers and solutions.  

Thousands of families, whose polluted environments have put them at a higher risk of falling ill to COVID-19, are continuing to work. We are facing the looming threat of climate catastrophe. And yet, industry continues to use human suffering as an opportunity to help themselves at the cost of our health. We cannot allow for ‘business as usual’ to occur any longer. ‘Business as usual’ sacrifices our lives. 

Community members are pushing a paradigm shift—one that never goes back to making some of our communities choose between survival and quality of life. We look forward to continuing our advocacy and fighting for a stronger rule that truly reflects the need in our communities.

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