This was written by Shaina Oliver, Moms Clean Air Force Colorado field organizer:
I grew up hearing the stories of how big the snowstorms used to be in the four corners area of New Mexico, where my family resides. I remember as a kid the frogs used to come out of the ground when it rained. There used to be more hummingbirds too. These are the things that remind me every day that climate change is happening right here, right now.
Climate chaos is hitting Indigenous communities like mine harder.
That’s why I am especially proud that Moms Clean Air Force has partnered with the National Tribal Air Association to raise awareness about the connections between long-standing health disparities in Indigenous communities and the links to air pollution and climate change.
Environmental justice is a personal issue for me. My grandfather was one of the many Navajo men and women who worked in the uranium mines before protective gear was provided or required. My grandfather also worked at the coal plant and had to retire early because his job was making his asthma worse. After retirement, he tried working as a school bus driver, but he was not healthy enough to do this job. On multiple occasions, he was rushed to the ER for asthma attacks that caused him to pass out, which would always scare my grandmother.
I personally struggle with asthma and know how hard it is to breathe when the air quality is poor. It’s unacceptable that Indigenous moms and babies have to suffer more from air pollution and climate change compared to other groups.
Increased investments in Tribal air quality and Tribal air programs, through the Environmental Protection Agency, can help protect Indigenous communities.
President Biden’s budget blueprint includes robust funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enhance environmental justice goals and support Indigenous communities. It also includes many important investments in clean energy and other climate solutions. These are essential to help protect the health and future of Indigenous communities.
I hope you can join me in calling on your lawmakers to add their support to this budget plan.