This year has filled all of us at Moms Clean Air Force (MCAF) with energy and optimism — what a surge of mom power! In a series of high-profile events, MCAF members have turned out in force to demand clean air and a safe climate for their families — and their message is being heard. Political leaders and public officials at every level, including Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, have told us how important moms’ voices are.
Since this time last year, we have more than doubled the number of MCAF members to 410,000; launched a new set of fact sheets in Spanish; started a series of blogs by elected officials; greatly expanded our state-level campaigns in the politically important states of Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Tennessee; created new materials for military families; and hosted three town halls on climate change and children’s health in Charlotte, NC, Richmond, VA, and Miami, FL. We also launched a big “get out the vote” push leading up to the November elections. Members have taken more than 1 million actions in response to our petitions since our founding in 2011.
Of course, our work is far from done. Opposition is only going to grow more fierce as we push toward getting the first-ever limits on global warming pollution from power plants. MCAF will be on the ground to respond to the opposition and reach out to new audiences.
This report details the highlights of our work from the past year. Thank you for your activism and support.
People’s Climate March unites moms:
In September, MCAF families from across the country took to the streets of New York City to march in the largest climate rally in history. The People’s Climate March drew close to half a million participants by some estimates and was a high point for us this fall. Our MCAF moms and their families captured the attention of the media and were mentioned in about a dozen outlets, including The Huffington Post, New York Times, La Voce di New York, and NBC News footage showing lots of bright red MCAF t-shirts.
The Washington Post featured the powerful story of our supermom Kelly Nichols, who moved away from New York after Hurricane Sandy because she worried about the safety of her kids, but came back for the climate march to demand action on behalf of her family.
Our power play date: In early July more than 200 people from eight states converged on Washington, D.C., for an MCAF Play-In for Climate Action, brain child of Virginia mom Heather Clark. The kids played parachute games, held pinwheels, did yoga, and brought a feeling of glee to the very serious task of demanding clean air for a healthy future.
Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) joined us, and our families met with about 40 Senate and Congressional offices to deliver “Act on Climate” petitions — giant postcards full of thousands of signatures and handprints from constituents across the country.
“We have some very big polluters who are polluting our planet … and up against those big polluters, we have the Moms Clean Air Force. And I want to tell you that my money is on the moms.”
–Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) at the MCAF Play-In for Climate Action
Showing support for the Clean Power Plan: On June 2, MCAF was front and center when EPA Administrator McCarthy announced the Clean Power Plan. The plan proposes to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, our nation’s largest source of global warming pollution. McCarthy gave a shout-out in her speech to our moms and kids who made the trip to D.C. to show support for climate action.
In late July, MCAF members turned out at regional hearings in Denver, CO, Pittsburgh, PA, and Washington, DC, to show their support for the plan. In each city, supporters of the proposal far outnumbered opponents. Public leadership from moms on this issue is critical, as opponents are pulling out all the stops to try to block action. In Pittsburgh, for example, the coal industry and its allies bused in dozens of protesters who oppose limits on climate pollution. National field manager Gretchen Dahlkemper was featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Tribune talking about the importance of climate action for the health of our families. “I’m no stranger of going to the emergency room with my daughter on days when the air quality is bad,” she told the Tribune.
Mama Summits build drumbeat for clean air: Hundreds of moms, dads, grandparents and kids converged on state capitols across the country in May to call for action on air pollution and climate change.
Moms and their families met with about 200 governors, legislators and staff members in eight states from California to New Jersey. Ohio mom Laura Burns blogged that she teared up when state Representative Tracy Heard recognized Moms Clean Air Force on the House floor and called on parents to “Show up and get involved!” We also held a week-long online Mama Summit — kicked off by a Twitter chat with Administrator McCarthy — that garnered more than 1 million views.
EPA Administrator invites MCAF and students to D.C.: In March, McCarthy invited MCAF to meet with her and several of her key staff, including Assistant EPA Administrator Janet McCabe. They had heard about work MCAF was doing in partnership with regional EPA offices to educate students on climate change and citizen involvement in public decision-making.
Students from New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and D.C. joined us to share what they had learned. Nicole Hernandez Hammer, a climate scientist who studies the effects of sea level rise, drove all the way from Florida with her family.
We delivered to McCarthy hundreds of petitions supporting climate action that students had brought home for their parents to sign.
That first meeting signaled that we were on the radar of EPA’s top leadership and provided a powerful boost in our efforts to raise the profile of families calling for action on climate.
We have generated materials this year aimed at reaching new constituencies, including faith-based groups and military families. We also translated our first set of “Armed with the Facts” information sheets into Spanish and plan to translate several more in coming months. We created our latest eBook — An Illustrated Guide to Climate Pollution — in collaboration with EDF climate scientist Ilissa Ocko, who is also an artist and provided illustrations. It garnered more than 1,700 views in the first few weeks of its release.
Spanish-language Armed With the Facts sheets:
Clima extremo [PDF]
New Interview and Blog Series Featuring Elected Officials
MCAF has launched a new series of interviews and blogs featuring elected officials from across the country. The platform gives political leaders from both parties a chance to show their support for clean air and climate action and helps drive traffic and new members to our site.
So far, MCAF has featured blogs by nearly two dozen elected officials, including:
- CA Senator Barbara Boxer (D)
- Carmel, IN Mayor Jim Brainard (R)
- Lakewood, OH Councilmember Tom Bullock (D)
- PA Senator Bob Casey (D)
- South Euclid, OH City Councilwoman Jane Goodman (D)
- NH S. Representative Jill Shaffer Hammond (D)
- NH Governor Maggie Hassan (D)
- OH House Minority Leader Tracy Maxwell Heard (D)
- NH Rep. Ann Kuster (D)
- PA S. Rep. Steve McCarter (D)
- NJ S. Sen. Christopher “Kip” Batemenan (R)
- Macomb County, MI Commissioner Toni Moceri (D)
- NH S. House Speaker Rep. Terie Norelli (D)
- Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (D)
- Pittsburgh Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak (D)
- NH S. Rep. Tara Sad (D)
- PA Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D)
- NH S. Rep. Marjorie Shepardson (D)
- MI S. Rep. Jonathan Switalski (D)
- MI S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D)
- Allegheny County, PA Commissioner Chelsa Wagner (D)
- MI S. Senator Rebekah Warren (D)
Adding to previous interviews with NH Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R), former SC Rep. Bob Inglis (R).
Get out the vote campaign: All the states where MCAF has field staff participated in a campaign to drive parents to the polls on election day. We distributed a series of cards like the one below to all our online members and to our Facebook network. Staff and volunteers in our 12 field states and Washington, DC distributed cards at local events.
Our state campaigns focus on areas facing significant air quality challenges where moms can make a difference with lawmakers and regulators.
To further our goals, this year we established new state chapters in New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Tennessee. We also launched chapters in Indiana and Washington DC, after moms contacted us and asked to join our movement. Some highlights of results in our state campaigns:
Midwest: MCAF joined Re-Amp, a coalition of Midwestern states working toward a goal of 80% renewable energy by 2050. Our chapters in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio are participating. MCAF Michigan’s field manager Vee Heymach played a key role in drafting Michigan’s proposal for implementing the Clean Power Plan as part of the proposal for meeting the Re-Amp goal.
California: MCAF continues to advocate for effective implementation of the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act, with a focus on engaging the Latino community. Throughout the Los Angeles region, MCAF held a series of bilingual town halls with Interfaith Power & Light, a nonprofit that unites religious congregations concerned about the environment. Working with community leaders from local houses of worship and schools opened the door to new voices and new MCAF members, many of whom were introduced to the topic of global warming for the first time.
Illinois: In May, MCAF joined with a new partner, The Great Lakes Center for Children’s Environmental Health, for a Mama Summit in Springfield. MCAF conducted more than 40 legislative visits that day, and we held a press conference with five moms who are also state representatives. On the heels of that successful day, MCAF is joining with a Chicago-area mom to start a new chapter in Illinois.
Indiana: Indiana mom Wendy Bredhold traveled to D.C. to attend our meeting with McCarthy in March. She told her powerful story about living within 60 miles of 17 coal-fired power plants. MCAF members in Indiana helped get out the vote for clean air on Election Day, and met with Senator Joe Donnelly’s and Senator Dan Coats’ staff in both Washington, DC and Indiana offices to ask for their support for clean air and action on climate change.
Michigan: Moms here have worked hard to establish strong working relationships with the state legislature. We held two successful legislative luncheons in Lansing, as well as a Mama Summit attended by several legislators and their staffs. MCAF-MI members and staff continue to be viewed as experts on children’s health and have been invited to sit on multiple panels, both community-driven and hosted by public officials, to discuss the impacts of toxic air pollution on Michigan’s children.
Ohio: We executed an all-encompassing plan to combat Senate Bill 310 in the Ohio legislature, a bill introduced to roll back state energy efficiency and renewable energy standards. With almost 100,000 Ohioans participating in the campaign, MCAF worked with our partners on the Ohio Energy Table, a coalition of health, business, and environmental partners, to flood media channels in opposition to the bill, work with swing legislators, and galvanize parents from across the state. The political tides were against us and the bill ultimately passed, but MCAF motivated hundreds of parents across the state, and we are staying engaged with this group.
Pennsylvania: This fall, MCAF-PA mobilized the parents from May’s Mama Summit and activists from across the state to oppose House Bill 2354, which sets up legislative roadblocks for state implementation of the Clean Power Plan. Although HB 2354 passed, MCAF did shore up some Republican votes in the Pennsylvania Senate to oppose this legislation. These relationships will be important for the ongoing legislative battles over limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
New Hampshire: Our New Hampshire chapter works closely with the offices of the state’s two U.S. Senators, Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen, to give them political support for taking action on clean air — such as backing the Mercury and Air Toxics Bill in Congress. We also built a good relationship with Governor Maggie Hassan, who authored a blog for our website and engaged with New Hampshire members at the Mama Summit. We have been meeting with staff in the offices of U.S. Congresswomen Ann Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter. New Hampshire’s female-heavy leadership gives MCAF members a unique opportunity to engage on a personal level with the decision-makers in the state.
New Jersey: MCAF held a Play-In in Trenton outside of a public hearing on Governor Chris Christie’s 2011 decision to pull New Jersey out of a coalition of states working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Ten MCAF members testified at the hearing in favor of rejoining Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Virginia: Our Virginia chapter started its activities this year with an incredibly successful town hall in Richmond in support of the Clean Power Plan. Assistant EPA Administrator McCabe joined health experts and community leaders to address over 100 people at Trinity Family Life Center, a large African-American community center. Highlights included a grandfather who commented, “Most of my grandchildren have asthma and I never thought about how charging my phone or turning on my TV might be affecting their health.” The crowd, many of whom said they had never heard about climate change, vowed to have conversations with their family and friends following the program.
Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia: MCAF staff and members from each of these states spent three days at the Leaf Festival in Asheville, NC, engaging with thousands of families at the largest children’s festival in the country. This weekend event mobilized more than 800 new members, 50 new supermoms, and 30 new advocacy partners to help advance MCAF’s mission in the Southeast.
Florida: We launched MCAF in Florida with a Miami Town Hall in October focused on reaching Latino families. Called “Raising Kids in a Changing Climate: What Parents Need to Know,” the panel featured four inspiring Latina women: Dr. Susan Pacheco, a pediatrician and professor, and the founder of the Alliance of Health Professionals Against Climate Change; Vanessa Hauc, a correspondent for Noticiero Telemundo; Angela Barranco, associate director for public engagement at the White House Council on Environmental Quality; and Dr. Nicole Hernandez Hammer, a Florida-based climate scientist, and the lead organizer for our new Florida chapter. That same week MCAF joined EPA Administrator McCarthy, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), and Senator Bill Nelson (FL) to tour Miami Beach during the high tide, or “King Tide,” to talk about sea level rise and adaptation strategies underway.
Washington, D.C.: MCAF started a D.C. chapter in May to generate a core group of supermoms who can show MCAF support on the Hill on behalf of our chapters across the country. Mobilizing almost immediately, MCAF brought moms in red t-shirts to the May “Sound the Alarm on Climate” event in which senators and members of Congress drew attention to climate change by setting simultaneous alarms on their cell phones and other devices. Our D.C. chapter has also come out in force for the Play-In for Climate Action, and to show support at Congressional hearings.
Many thanks to our wonderful and growing community of mom, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles–EVERYONE who has joined this inclusive community to fight for the things that mean so much to all of our family members–good health and well-being.