La Crosse mayor calls on Trump administration to back fuel standards

La Crosse’s mayor joins local leaders to call for higher car emission standards after the head of the Environmental Protection Agency asked for a review of clean car standards. The Trump Administration has often seen environmental rules as overly burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and has been rolling back Obama-era policies.

In 2012, President Obama finalized the standards that would require the fuel economy of cars and light-duty trucks to be the equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Should the Trump administration lower these standards, some locals worry that the increase in car emissions would worsen the affects of climate change.

“Millions of people will be without clean water and food because of droughts and floods. Millions more will become refugees because of rising sea levels,” said Avery Van Gaard, board member for Coulee Region Sierra Club.

Jennifer Rombalski called the issue a public safety concern– especially for those with respiratory issues.

“Poor air quality causes or makes worse conditions such as asthma, which 25 million Americans suffer from,” said Rombalski, public health director for La Crosse County.

From 2014 to 2016, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported that asthma patients were taken to the emergency room 617 times in La Crosse County.

“It’s not the costs that are most alarming, it’s the fact that these are preventable health consequences of not having clean air,” said Mike Giese, a La Crosse County commissioner.

La Crosse has taken measures to reduce emissions, including partnerships to install electric car charging stations and changes to city owned buildings.

“Looking at the use of LED lighting for example,” said La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat.

Kabat said the Clean Power Plan, Paris Climate Accord and these local initiatives needed to be backed by the federal legislators.

“What we need are national and state approaches that pull all of these various pieces together so that way we can address climate change,” Kabat said.