Latinx Families, Environmental Advocates Support AB 349 to Reduce Smog Pollution, Improve Public Health and Fight Climate Change
Posted by Angelyn Tabalba in on March 22, 2021
Carson City, NV — Today, Latinx families and environmental advocates welcomed the introduction of Assembly Bill 349, sponsored by Assemblyman Howard Watts (D-Las Vegas), in the Nevada Assembly. AB 349 would reduce smog pollution by closing a loophole that allows “Classic Cars” to avoid regular smog checks. A study by the state’s Division of Environmental Protection has shown that older vehicles can put out 10 to 20 times as much smog pollution as a newer vehicle.
The bill would also update the smog check schedule for newer vehicles and increase the state’s share of revenue from smog check fees, directing new funding towards county programs to improve air quality. These programs would be used to help low-income vehicle owners repair their older, more polluting vehicles or replace them with newer, cleaner vehicles.
“Vehicles are the main source of pollution linked to climate change and unhealthy air,” said Assemblyman Howard Watts. “AB 349 will level the playing field so the dirtiest vehicles get fixed or get off the road, while bringing health and economic benefits to the communities that need it the most.”
“As the mother of a son who has suffered from asthma and had difficulty breathing on smoggy days, I thank Assemblyman Watts for introducing this bill and ask every Nevada legislator to support it,” said Angeles Sanchez, a Las Vegas mother. “For too long Nevada’s air quality has hurt families like mine who struggle with respiratory illnesses. My children deserve to breathe clean air. We think AB 349 will reduce smog pollution and protect our families’ health, and we urge lawmakers to support this bill.”
“Latino families, as well as Black and Indigenous families, are more likely to be exposed to unhealthy air and to suffer because of it, and that’s true here in Clark County where we’ve received an F from the American Lung Association for our ozone pollution, which is caused by smog,” said Rudy Zamora, Program Director of Chispa Nevada. “That’s why 86% of Latinos in Nevada support policies to reduce smog and air pollution from older vehicles. Reducing this pollution would also help Nevada meet its climate goals, since transportation is our number one source of greenhouse gas emissions. We need the Nevada Legislature to support and pass AB 349.”
“Nevada voters are demanding bold and ambitious climate action as evidenced in a recent poll conducted by Global Strategy Group,” said Paul Selberg, Executive Director for the Nevada Conservation League. “82 percent of Nevada’s voters believe climate change is a serious problem and nearly two-thirds want lawmakers to take action on this issue to protect future generations.”
“Vehicle emissions are the largest source of ozone pollution which causes difficulty breathing, increased asthma attacks, and cardiovascular harm,” said Melissa Ramos, Clean Air Advocacy Manager for the American Lung Association. “This legislation will get dirty cars off the road and help improve air quality — especially for communities of color which bear the brunt of air pollution burdens.”
In addition to improving air quality and fighting climate change, AB 349 would:
- Save money: Nevada is the only western state to require annual smog testing. AB 349 will save drivers at least $6 million every year by reducing the smog check frequency for newer vehicles, which are already much cleaner.
- Promote equity: Low-income communities and communities of color, particularly in urban areas like Las Vegas, disproportionately feel the impacts of vehicle pollution. As the result of discriminatory housing and zoning practices, low-income neighborhoods and people of color are far more likely to live near high-traffic corridors and breathe in higher levels of pollution.
- Increase access to clean cars: AB 349 would help low-income families in Clark and Washoe counties cover the cost to repair smog problems or replace older vehicles with clean, electric transportation similar to a successful program run by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.