PITTSBURGH — The ‘Route Zero Relay’ is on a cross-country journey. It’s a nationwide initiative calling for stronger clean car standards that made a stop in Pittsburgh on Monday.
Air quality has been a topic of concern recently, and for Dr. Stephanie Maximous from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, it’s a driving force in keeping her patients healthy.
“It’s critical, and it’s an emergency,” Maximous said. “Even just last week, we had day after day of severe air quality warnings. That was due to the wildfires coming from Canada, but we know even just that baseline, we have these ongoing risks that our patients endure.”
On Monday, there was a push for more zero-emissions vehicles and investments in clean transportation along Pittsburgh’s North Shore by local lawmakers, supporters, and healthcare professionals.
“Forty percent of air pollution-related heart disease deaths in Allegheny County occur in environmental-justice communities, even though those communities represent 27 percent of the county’s total population,” said Chris Gassman from University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Sustainable Business.
Supporters said progress is being made in the city, with historic investments in charging infrastructure, battery manufacturing, and tax incentives encouraging consumers to transition to electric and hybrid vehicles.
“Here in Pittsburgh, the city has announced it is electrifying its city bus fleet so that all of its 730 vehicles will be zero emissions by 2045,” said Patrick Campbell from the Group Against Smog Pollution (GASP).
But they said there’s still work to be done, calling upon the Biden administration and other key players in Washington to enforce and release more strict standards.
“The next step is ensuring that the EPA enacts the strongest possible standards as quickly as possible,” Campbell said.
The Route Zero Relay will conclude its tour in Washington D.C.
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