Today, I spoke at an EPA hearing about the draft Clean Car standards proposed earlier this month. This is my testimony:
My name is Leah Wiste, and I’m the Executive Director of Michigan Interfaith Power & Light. We work with over 300 member congregations throughout the state, which comprise thousands of people of faith and conscience committed to bold climate action and protecting our communities. Thank you for allowing me to offer testimony today.
When President Biden announced the draft tailpipe emissions standards earlier this month, Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee offered a strange kind of praise, saying “This is sort of a Goldilocks goal… Not too much, not too little. It’s just right.” But it’s clear that the time has passed for moderate, “not too much, not too little” policy.
When I first began working at Michigan IPL 8 years ago, we pointed to climate impacts that were happening in other parts in the world and to scientists’ predictions of warming temperatures and increasingly erratic weather. We no longer talk about climate impacts in the future tense.
This summer, the climate crisis brought another thousand-year flood to Detroit (our second since 2014). In June, an overnight rainfall of 7 inches (twice the amount of rain Detroit historically receives in the whole month) shut down I-94 for days and flooded thousands of basements. $96million in relief has been approved by FEMA as of July 15. Beyond the immediate loss and damages, those whose homes were impacted are likely to experience health consequences from lingering mold and sewage, which are especially dangerous for those already made vulnerable by asthma, COVID, and other diseases.
Since transportation emissions are the largest source of US climate pollution, clean car standards must be commensurate with the climate emergency we are experiencing right now. The current proposal falls dangerously short.
The proposed standards are full of loopholes and rely on voluntary commitments from the automakers—the same automakers who got an $80 billion government bailout in 2009, agreed to stronger emissions reductions under President Obama, and then reneged on their commitment when the political winds changed. Too much is at stake for us to rely on the voluntary commitments of this demonstrably untrustworthy industry now.
We at Michigan Interfaith Power & Light envision a world where communities thrive, have abundant health, and live in right relationship with each other and the earth that sustains us. We’re asking for a 2030 standard for cars and light-duty trucks that reduces greenhouse gas emissions to 60% below today’s average and to make all new trucks and buses zero-emissions by 2040. We are calling for all cars and light duty trucks to be zero emissions by 2035, which will require at least 60% to be zero emissions by 2030.
The draft clean cars proposal can be a moral opportunity. We have, in front of us, a chance to respond to the cry of our communities and the cry of the earth, an opportunity to follow the science, and to move rapidly to make the emissions reductions we know are necessary. It is possible and it can be done in a way benefits us in Michigan, our country and the world.
Enbridge, the company responsible for the pipeline that burst in 2010 causing nearly 1,000,000 gallons of tar sands crude to flow into the Kalamazoo River, has vowed to continue operations in defiance of Whitmer's order.
If you, like us, believe that corporations have no business risking our Great Lakes and our last shot at a livable climate for the sake of making a buck, I hope you'll find a way to plug in to this week's outdoor and socially-distanced events in Detroit, Lansing and Mackinaw City!
Wednesday, May 12:
- All-day event led by Great Lakes Water Protectors, Mackinaw City
- 6-7:30pm Shut Down Line 5 Solidarity Rally, Detroit
Thursday, May 13:
- 10am-1pm Evict Enbridge event, Lansing
- All-day activities including the delivery of an eviction notice to Enbridge, indigenous ceremonies and songs, music + speakers, Mackinaw City
Big thanks to MI Climate Action Network for compiling and sharing all these links earlier today!
This past Monday the rally at the state capitol, organized by the Poor People's Campaign, focused on the deep connection between environmental degradation and its disproportionate harm to those living in poverty. The rally was meant to be a prophetic cry for change, for a turning away from unjust policies and practices that contradict God’s clear intent that we humans cherish the Earth and the most vulnerable members of the human family.Read more