Members from the Latinx community expressed their disagreement Wednesday with the Trump administration’s decision to revoke California’s right to establish its own auto emission standards. California currently has among the strictest regulations in the United States.
President Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that his administration is revoking California’s Federal Waiver on emissions to produce “far less expensive cars for the consumer, while at the same time making the cars substantially SAFER.”
California’s emission standards are more strict than federal regulations on chemicals that compose the smog released by gas-powered vehicles. While the federal government requires car owners to check their cars for certain emissions, such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, California’s regulations are more firm. Each year, California residents must pass a smog test that evaluates whether a vehicle complies with the state’s regulations.
Some members of the Latinx community expressed disagreement with the president’s decision. They said they believe California must have the right to decide what regulations should be put in place in the state.
“I don’t want the federal government coming in and telling our government in California that they can’t make a law that most Californians agree with,” said William Maldonado, a South LA resident who suffers from asthma. “It is very important for California to have stronger standards on [auto] emissions.”
Maria Franco, an immigrant from Mexico who has lived in Los Angeles for the last 6 years agrees with Maldonado. “Trump’s emission decision is simply wrong, taking away California’s emission laws could be very harmful to people’s health,” said Franco, “I worry about my children and grandchildren, what would the future be for them 20 years from now if California’s pollution keeps increasing?”
California’s pollution regulations have proven to be effective when it comes to reducing air pollution and preventing smog-related illnesses such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis, according to Kiros Berhane, a professor of preventive medicine and Erica Garcia, a postdoctoral scholar at the USC Keck School of Medicine.
A USC Children’s Health study on air quality and asthma published last May stated that children’s lungs had become “stronger” in the last 20 years and reported decreased rates of bronchitic symptoms “as pollution declined throughout the region.”
Although the study’s results appear encouraging, researchers warned that there must be continued efforts to reduce pollution in Los Angeles. While Trump's environmental decision will affect the entire state, cities with larger populations will be among the most affected.
“In the U.S., one in every 12 children suffer from asthma, compared to one in every 10 children in Los Angeles,” said Arnold Platzker, a professor of clinical pediatrics at Keck. “The risk is much bigger here. Several studies have attributed this to the consequences of air pollution in the region.”
Maldonado who has been affected by the pollution that exists in Los Angeles expressed his concern regarding President Trump’s decision.
“When the government makes environmental policy that doesn’t encourage and promote the responsible use of our environment our future generations are going to be harmed,” said Maldonado, “kids, grandkids, everyone is affected.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has also expressed his concern and disagreement with the president’s decision, and has ensured that California will take legal actions against the federal government to maintain the state's environmental policies.
“California won’t ever wait for permission from Washington to protect the health and safety of children and families,” Newsom Newsom said in a statement Tuesday. “We will fight this latest attempt and defend our clean car standards.”
Some residents are hopeful that California will take legal action against the Trump administration’s decision to revoke its environmental autonomy. In the past, California has been able to establish its own regulations because of the state’s history of pollution, but in order to do so, an EPA waiver is required.
“When we keep losing restrictions in corporations whose only motive is profit, that does not help regular people,” said Maldonado, “California can’t just let them ruin everyone else’s health and long-term future, we must do something.”