Guest Opinions

Better fuel economy standards will benefit Idaho — and its air

Downtown Boise’s smokey air in September 2012.
Downtown Boise’s smokey air in September 2012. Statesman file

Idahoans enjoy a way of life unmatched in most of America. However, one problem we do share with more urban states is air pollution.

The Treasure Valley is booming, with more people bringing more cars, resulting in more smog, especially during winter inversions. That’s why it is absolutely the wrong time for the Trump administration’s plan to roll back national average fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks (called CAFE standards).

Rolling back CAFE standards will jeopardize Idahoans health and hinder economic growth. Pollution from tailpipes is proved to seriously affect human health, particularly vulnerable groups such as children and elderly residents.

But rolling back CAFE standards for cars also will have a negative impact on Idaho’s business climate. Here’s why.

Because of our own long-term pollution problems, the Treasure Valley struggles to meet the air-quality standards set by the Clean Air Act. If suddenly our cars pollute more because of relaxed CAFE standards, we could soon be classified as violating the Clean Air Act.

That would kick in new regulations for our region. In short, measures to control pollution become mandatory. This scenario could ultimately invalidate the plans that Idaho and communities have already created to get a handle on air pollution.

Rolling back CAFE standards could limit the ability for new industries to begin operations or existing businesses to expand their operations. And our kids and grandparents will be left with unhealthy air.

Idaho has everything to lose and nothing to gain from President’s Trump’s plan to allow more air pollution from cars and trucks.

Austin Hopkins is a conservation associate with the Idaho Conservation League in Boise.