This was written by Mollie Michel, Moms Clean Air Force’s Project Manager:
This week, dozens of moms from 18 states and DC will be delivering testimony at the EPA’s virtual public hearing on PM 2.5, or deadly soot. Trump’s EPA recently proposed to retain the current standards for particle pollution, ignoring science and putting thousands of lives at risk. Even in the midst of a national public health emergency from Covid-19, moms are signing up in unprecedented numbers to testify by telephone at this virtual public hearing. It’s one of many ways Moms Clean Air Force is continuing to do serious and consequential advocacy and outreach during the coronavirus pandemic.
In March, as schools and businesses around the country began to close to stem the rise of the coronavirus pandemic, Moms Clean Air Force started making plans to continue our work in the face of an undeniable, immediate threat to the health and well-being of our loved ones.
Our team made the heart-breaking decision to cancel in-person meetings, activities, and actions for the foreseeable future, including our annual Play-In for Climate Action in Washington, D.C. At the same time, we amped up our virtual activities to bring our message of clean air and climate safety to an online audience.
The national public health emergency unfolded as Trump’s EPA, headed by Administrator and former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, began rolling back clean air protections at a breakneck pace, using our distraction over the deadly coronavirus as cover for his dangerous deeds. With new research showing that breathing polluted air may increase the risk of dying from Covid-19, these rollbacks have never been so dangerous. But moms are nothing if not multi-taskers, and we knew we could still make an impact while sheltering in our homes and juggling even more responsibility for the care and education of our children.
Here are a few ways our work has continued virtually:
In Pennsylvania, field organizer Vanessa Lynch helped put on an online webinar about oil and gas pollution after a planned in-person symposium in the state Capitol was canceled. The webinar welcomed more than 100 participants from around the state, including state policymakers and legislators, health professionals, impacted community members, and faith leaders, who discussed the harmful impacts of oil and gas pollution to public health.
Our Kids Clean Air Force kids are seizing on the opportunity to connect with their legislators virtually. Recently, Rosemarie Anderson, the daughter of Colorado organizer Laurie Anderson participated in a “Kids Town Hall” with Congressman Jason Crow (CO-06), where she got to ask a question about climate change and air pollution (slide above).
In April, I participated in an environmental round table hosted by Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), which included advocates from Citizens Climate Lobby, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, Penn Environment, Clean Air Council, and The Public Interest Law Center, for a conversation about how to protect our community from air pollution and climate change.
Using Facebook Live to engage audiences in real time, Moms Clean Air Force and our Ecomadres program organizers have launched weekly events that appeal to diverse audiences. These virtual “cafecitos” are bilingual discussions highlighting some of the unique issues that Latinos face from the coronavirus pandemic, compounded by existing health disparities, often caused by air pollution.
In our Earth Day episode, our Ecomadres team, including organizers in Iowa, Nevada, and Arizona, discussed what Earth Day means to them, why fighting for clean air is more important than ever, and how Latinos are addressing these issues in their communities.
Moms Clean Air Force’s National Field Director Heather McTeer Toney has launched a weekly Facebook Live, “Let’s Clear the Air,” where she discusses climate action, air pollution, and how Moms are continuing our fight for clean air during the coronavirus public health crisis.
At Moms Clean Air Force, we will continue to engage members in our fight for clean air, even as we do our part to flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic.