By Rev. Ronald Tuff and Rev. Bryant Ali
Breath is life.
This simple reality compels us, as African-American faith leaders, to urge our state and local elected officials and business leaders to support the passage of, a transformational bill which would improve air quality and help fight climate change. The legislation would accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles and transportation infrastructure across our state, and move NJ Transit to replace its heavily polluting bus fleet with a new generation of electric buses. These changes are vitally important to New Jersey’s cities, where air pollution and climate change threaten public health and safety.
In our communities, the sickening fact is that it is not safe to breathe. For years, we have watched too many of our children, neighbors and friends suffer from respiratory diseases caused in part by air pollution. Newark’s residents, for example, breathe air that is fouled by vehicles on nearby major highways, streets crowded with cars, buses, thousands of truck trips daily to and from ports Newark and Elizabeth, and diesel-powered cargo-handling equipment at the ports. As a result, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reported that— far higher than the state average. When children wind up missing school for trips to the emergency room because they can’t breathe, that is a catastrophic public health and environmental failure. This is a daily reality in Newark, and it is wrong. Widespread use of electric transportation represents an important part of the solution to these problems.