National Asthma Awareness Month is an opportunity to recognize the role of tailpipe emissions in the global epidemic of pediatric asthma and the role zero-emission transportation can have in improving public health. Over the last year, the United States has made tremendous strides toward that goal.

Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the strongest-ever vehicle emissions standards, which most analyses show will lead to dramatic growth in zero-emission vehicles in the United States over the next decade. This transition is achievable thanks to the transformational industrial policies enacted over the last two years. 

In August 2022, Congress passed the landmark Inflation Reduction Act, which makes historic investments toward growing U.S. electric vehicle and battery manufacturing capacity, securing our supply chain for critical minerals and battery components, and expanding consumer access to EVs nationwide.

Meanwhile, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 will help fund the rapid expansion of a nationwide EV charging network and expand public charging access to millions of Americans. These milestones are the culmination of many years of effort by advocates, policymakers and workers across the EV and charging supply chain, and we should celebrate them with an acknowledgment that the work of decarbonizing the transportation sector is still ahead of us.

Today, more than one in three Americans live in places with unhealthy levels of air pollution — with low-income communities and communities of color bearing the brunt of the effects. Most air pollution, like smog and soot, is tied directly to burning fossil fuels for transportation — which continues to be the number-one source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. By transitioning to EVs, we can remove harmful tailpipe emissions from our neighborhoods, improving public health and reaping tremendous economic benefits.

So how can you get involved?

First, by supporting the Biden administration in rapidly implementing the programs funded by the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. In February, the Department of Transportation finalized the rules for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program — providing $5 billion for the installation of 500,000 public chargers along our nation’s highways — and in March, the agency opened up applications for Charging and Fueling Infrastructure grants to further build public charging.

At the same time, the Treasury Department proposed rules for the Clean Vehicle Tax Credit, a key incentive to build American manufacturing and encourage the purchase of EVs through a $7,500 tax credit for qualifying new EVs built in North America. However, we continue to wait to finalize the rules for other programs. Participating in public stakeholder processes to ensure that these programs are thoughtfully implemented, and working with local governments to support their efforts to spend these funds, will be crucial to the success of these bills over the next few years.

Second, by supporting efforts to reduce emissions further through administrative action. EPA’s proposed rule to increase vehicle emission standards is the right policy at the right time, and it provides an excellent example of how legislative and administrative efforts can work in tandem. While recent decisions will undoubtedly be the subject of fearsome political attacks, we can help to defend these policies that are so critical for public health by voicing our support for them during public comment periods and to our representatives in Congress.

Third, help expand the coalition to support and defend these policies, which exemplify our shared destiny in improving public health, reducing harmful pollution and growing the U.S. economy. The industrial policies within the two acts will rapidly accelerate the transition to advanced energy and clean transportation, and the benefits of these policies extend far beyond public health and climate change. 

Over the last two years, nearly $200 billion in private-sector capital has been invested or committed to projects across the country that will create millions of jobs in the zero-emission transportation sector. It is critical that we understand and communicate the link between the health of our communities and the opportunities provided by these historic investments. Organizations of any size can join the White House EV Acceleration Challenge and commit to support the transition to clean transportation and cleaner air for all.

Join us in acknowledging this National Asthma Awareness Month with gratitude for the progress made and strengthened resolve to deliver a cleaner future for our children.