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Deadline today for public comment on vehicle emissions standards

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Suzanne Potter

(California News Service) July 5 is the last day to put in your two cents on proposed vehicle emissions standards from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The new rules would phase in clean-car standards to medium and light-duty vehicles starting in model year 2027. The idea is to clean up tailpipe emissions and speed the transition to zero-emission vehicles.

Ed Begley Jr., actor and climate activist, just took part in the Route Zero Relay, which drove electric vehicles across the country to raise awareness among consumers.

"There's a lot of charging out there now," Begley pointed out. "But with the infrastructure bill, there's going to be much more robust fast charging. And I think that's going to make a lot of difference in people's decision-making, so that they decide to go for electric."

Opponents of long-term clean car standards argued they are costly and could raise vehicle prices, an assertion disputed by conservation groups. EPA data show the transportation sector accounts for 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, the largest and fastest growing source in the U.S.

Cara Cook, director of programs for the Alliance of Nurses for a Healthy Environment, a partner organization with the Route Zero Relay, said carbon emissions are driving climate change and lead to a range of health issues.

"We're seeing more extreme heat days, poor air quality days, more extreme weather events," Cook outlined. "So with high heat days, we are seeing exacerbations of chronic health conditions such as cardiac or respiratory conditions. We are seeing premature deaths with poor air quality days, particularly from wildfire smoke."

Public comment will be accepted until midnight on Advocates then hope the EPA will issue a final rule by the end of the year.