(KERO) — The American Lung Association’s new "Zeroing in on Healthy Air" report was released Wednesday and looks to provide public health benefits of making a transition to zero-emission transportation as well as clean non-combustion renewable energy.
The research report found that the shift to clean air technology can save thousands of lives, help those with asthma to avoid attacks, and promote major reductions in greenhouse gases in the area which heavily affects climate change. In California alone, the change could save over 15,000 lives. And while they admit a lot of work needs to be done to achieve this goal, it is something they are optimistic about.
According to the website IQAir, Bakersfield has the most particle pollution in the world, ranking number one out of 203 metropolitan areas. That’s why those behind this report say it’s important to reduce those transmissions, and some oil and gas officials agree.
Why Bakersfield? Fertilizers, pesticides, dust from tractors and other vehicles all contribute to the problem. And because the city is surrounded by mountains on three sides, there is nowhere for particulate pollution and ozone to go. Two major freeways also bring a steady stream of vehicle exhaust to the region as cars and trucks pass constantly through the San Joaquin Valley, in which Bakersfield and many other top dirtiest cities lie, in transit between the mega-population centers of Northern and Southern California.
- Forbes via IQAir
Bakersfield is no stranger to traffic. With every vehicle that drives by, the EPA says it produces more than 4 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. That’s why the American Lung Association says the data from its zero-emission report is something the public should consider when it comes to transportation.
Will Barrett, national senior director for clean air advocacy for the American Lung Association, says that the transition to zero-emission technology could ultimately save hundreds of lives in our area and thousands throughout the country. He says it could even help those with asthma from having an attack.
“We know there is an unsustainable level of pollution. When we break that down into the local level, in Bakersfield we’re talking about over $2.5 billion in public health benefits, hundreds of deaths avoided, 11,000 asthma attacks avoided, and over 40,000 lost workdays because we’re moving to cleaner air by making the transition to zero emissions.”
In response to the report, PG&E wrote in a statement that transportation is the single largest source of greenhouse-gas emissions in the state, contributing nearly 40% and that increasing electric vehicle adoption can play a critical role in supporting California's goals to reduce emissions.
The Kern Oil and Refining Company said in a statement that the community leads in efforts to develop clean renewable transportation which is a critical part of California's leadership on climate change.
Barrett adds that the move to renewable energy would positively impact Kern County considering residents live in a major industrial area where toxic air pollution is a problem. He says that by transitioning away from our dependence on fossil fuels to technologies that don’t burn them we can also avoid some of those unexpected budget crunches that many are currently facing including at the pump.
“I think the current gas prices certainly are putting an incredible strain on family budgets. While there’s a lot of steps to go from paying at the pump to moving to an electric car, by doing so you can eliminate that price volatility that comes along with rising gas prices or even on the home heating side. Natural gas prices that have been so high.”
Barnett adds that Bakersfield is one the most polluted cities in the United States and ranks number one, two, and three for different pollutants in the country. He says that although there is an opportunity for a long-term solution local, state, and federal efforts are key to getting the ball rolling.
With the transition to zero-emission technologies the American Lung Association is optimistic that by 2030, there will be 14% decrease in emissions. But Barnett adds there is lots of work left to do.
“We’re making progress, but we still have a long way to go and the surest way to get there is to go to zero-emission technologies both for the power sector and the transportation sector.”
See the Full Report Below: