Our Children Need Clean Car Standards to Protect Their Health

As a pediatrician, I’m entrusted with caring for the children in our community. It’s a responsibility that I take seriously. Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate enough to help children overcome serious health challenges so that they’re able to become the best versions of themselves.

At the same time, I’ve also seen firsthand the harmful effects that toxic pollution can have on our children’s health. Babies breathe 50 percent more air in proportion to their weight than adults, and their lungs continue to develop throughout adolescence. In this developmental phase, children’s lungs are most vulnerable to the harmful effects of air pollution.

Thankfully, our nation has already implemented policies to fight climate change and protect our children’s well-being. For example, take America’s clean car standards, which reduce air pollution and combat climate change. With the transportation sector now the country’s largest source of carbon pollution, these standards are the best policy we have on the books to fight climate change and protect our children from dirty air. That’s why they enjoy widespread support from health groups such as the American Lung Association.

However, the clean car standards are currently under attack by President Donald Trump and his deputies, Acting Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Deputy Administrator Heidi King, who are trying to rush through an unpopular proposal to roll back these protections that reduce tailpipe pollution from vehicles, protect our environment and health, and save consumers hundreds of billions of dollars at the gas pump.

With this decision, the Trump administration is not only ignoring thousands of pages of scientific research — they’re gives automakers the green light to make dirtier, less-efficient vehicles that pollute the air and harm our health. This is particularly detrimental for the 26 million Americans who suffer from asthma, including over 6 million children. Americans deserve clean air, and pumping more dangerous tailpipe pollution into our communities will only jeopardize the health and well-being of American families.

In addition to protecting our health, America’s clean car standards save consumers money at the gas pump through fuel efficiency. The current standards save consumers as much as $5,700 per car and $8,200 per truck over the lifetime of their vehicles, and Americans have already saved more than $67 billion and counting. Everybody saves when their cars are more efficient, especially families with lower incomes, who spend more of their earnings on gas.

Nothing is more rewarding than seeing a child grow into a healthy adult with a full life ahead of them. That’s why I’m committed to fighting for America’s clean car standards. Our children need us to elevate their voices and to tell our leaders that we won’t stand back and let them tear down these effective, lifesaving protections.

The Trump administration should recognize the clear threat posed by climate change and tailpipe pollution and join us in the fight to keep our communities safe and healthy. After all, nobody voted for more pollution and dirtier air.

Our clean car standards are achievable and working. We should keep moving forward and stop politicians and lobbyists from taking us backward. As long as Trump and Wheeler and King plan to roll back America’s clean car standards, this administration is showing us that they can’t be trusted with our children’s health.


Dr. Timothy O’Mara is a pediatrician in northern Virginia and has been recognized in Washingtonian Magazine as one of the area’s outstanding pediatricians in 2010, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and he is a member of Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action.