Local leaders talk new clean car standards

Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst met with local leaders on Oct. 18 to celebrate Georgia’s progress in transitioning to zero-emission transportation and to advocate for the strongest possible federal clean car standards.

State Rep. Jasmine Clark, Crista Irwin from Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University, and Jackson Danis from Center for Transportation and the Environment joined Ernst at the press conference.

The speakers said historic federal investments have been made since 2020 in charging infrastructure, battery manufacturing, and tax incentives for consumers who purchase electric vehicles – an important prerequisite to shifting to zero-emission vehicles.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials also introduced draft safeguards in April 2023 for the next round of clean car standards for model years 2027 through 2032. A news release states the new standards set “the stage for an estimated 67 percent of all new car sales to be electric vehicles by 2032.”

EPA’s website states the standards will reduce pollution and support the expanding electric vehicle industry.

“The environmental advantages of clean cars means a lot more than just reducing our carbon footprint,” said Danis. “Motor vehicles emit a mix of gasses and particles, including nitrogen oxides and black carbon. These not only have direct health implications for our communities but also contribute to the formation of ozone. This ozone can harm both our respiratory health and the environment, it’s certainly not pretty to look at.”

The personal health impacts of roadways with zero-emission vehicles are also important, according to Irwin.

“The transition to clean cars is a public health imperative. Vehicle emissions contribute to air pollutants that exacerbate respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis, and other chronic respiratory diseases. By reducing tailpipe pollution, we’re going to significantly decrease the risk of these health issues,” he said. “That’s fewer hospital admissions, less strain on our healthcare system, and a healthier community.”

Ernst talked about the efforts Brookhaven has made as a city to clean up its vehicle pollution.

Brookhaven city officials began the transition in 2019 when they purchased a used Tesla for the police department. Since then, more than half of the 85 active Brookhaven police vehicles have been replaced with either hybrid or all-electric vehicles. Brookhaven Police Department’s headquarters, city hall, and several Brookhaven parks have charging stations with charging stations also located throughout the city on private property.

“In Brookhaven, we’ve always been at the forefront of sustainable innovation. Our community’s adoption rate of electric vehicles surpasses both state and national averages, a testament to our residents’ commitment to a greener future. The push for strong federal clean car standards complements our local efforts to provide EV infrastructure, amplifying the economic and environmental benefits for Brookhaven and the entire nation,” said Ernst – who added that his electric vehicle was charging while he was speaking.

Speakers also emphasized the need for this new round of clean car standards and encouraged federal officials to finalize the safeguards by the end of 2023.


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