Why the Biden Administration Should Support Higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards

October 5, 2023Rabbi Emily Losben-Ostrov

The following blog post is adapted from testimony given by Rabbi Emily Losben-Ostrov at a National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration hearing on Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards on September 28, 2023. This testimony was presented as part of Power for Purpose: The Reform Movement's 2023 Campaign for Climate Justice.

Hello, Thank you for allowing me to testify today. I'm Rabbi Emily Losben-Ostrov and I serve as the spiritual leader for Temple of Israel in Wilmington, NC; I'm also on the Reform Movement's Leadership Team for the Power for Purpose Environmental Justice Campaign, as well as serving on the leadership for the North Carolina Jewish Clergy Association, and the Wilmington Faith Leaders United.

I come on behalf of supporting stronger regulations and higher CAFE standards, even above the preferred alternatives contained in the current proposal - we can and should be more ambitious.

Higher standards are definitely attainable, as we have the technology - and the cost-benefit analysis shows that more stringent regulations are clearly going to financially help the average American consumer, and would also help the American automakers be better prepared for the global market.

As Jews, like other people of faith and conscience, we are commanded to protect the earth. These higher standards will not only allow us to further deliver, this sacred commitment, but also allow us to follow the religious and human imperative to pursue Justice.

Our tradition teaches, in the book of Deuteronomy, which is sacred to other faiths as well, that we must pursue Justice. By enacting these standards, we will be protecting many people who, because of their race and/or their financial situation, are at greater risk due to living in closer proximity to highways.

Furthermore, here in Wilmington as in so many places, we've seen substantial growth and increase in vehicular pollution -- a solution must be found. These higher standards will literally help save lives.

And as we are taught in the Talmud, - with a very similar quotation appearing in the Koran, - to save one life, is as if you saved the whole world. Stricter CAFE standards, by saving many lives, will save worlds entire.

Thank you so much for allowing me to speak on behalf of Jews, North Carolinians and Americans as we advocate for stronger standards.

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