Our moms make news every week. We strive to keep the media focused on why parents are demanding bold climate action now. And as we make news, we might also make history. This week is a good example: 40 of our members from across the country spoke up to demand cleaner cars at President Biden’s first climate-related public hearing at the EPA. This groundswell of grassroots support for cutting car pollution shows that we are serious about protecting our children’s health. Join us in telling the EPA that it’s time to clean up climate pollution from cars with this petition.
MOMS TO CONGRESS: TIME FOR METHANE STANDARDS
Writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Patrice Tomcik, national field manager, shares her experience of living in Southwestern Pennsylvania when, in 2014, the expansion of oil and gas operations in their community changed her family’s life in ways they had never imagined: “As the drill rig moved in, our bucolic landscape would soon transform into an industrial zone. Social tensions among once-friendly neighbors became the norm.” Because of her health and safety concerns about the fracking in her community, Patrice “became an organizer overnight, and teamed up with other parents determined to protect our school from drilling directly beneath it….Although our advocacy raised awareness about the inherent risks related to this industrial activity, the gas company went ahead and drilled the wells one-half mile from the school campus. I worry every day about the harmful air pollutants my sons and the other students — and staff — may be exposed to from these gas wells when they attend school or play outdoor sports, especially my youngest, who is a cancer survivor and immune-compromised.” On behalf of the nearly 300,000 children in her state who go to school within a half mile of oil and gas facilities, Patrice calls on the U.S. House of Representatives to vote in favor of reinstating the 2016 oil and gas methane standards that would help protect children’s health: “This is a vote for children’s health. Parents can’t control the air our children breathe. We depend on our leaders to stand up for policies that clean up our air.” As someone living near fracking, Patrice reminds us that “home is where the heart is; it’s also where our health resides.”
Join Patrice and others across the country in demanding protection from oil and gas methane pollution. Take action here.
ELEVATING ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE at EPA
To comment on President Biden’s proposed Senate-confirmed EPA environmental justice assistant administrator post, E&E News spoke to Tonya Calhoun, National Field Manager, about her views on how this new post would elevate environmental justice: “Other activists welcomed the concrete commitment. Tonya Calhoun…said she hoped the Senate-confirmed post would have greater authority than the advisory roles did in the past.” This post is part of the Biden administration’s $6 trillion spending package that would increase funding across the federal government, emphasizing priorities such as climate and environmental justice.
CALLING FOR DECISIVE ACTION ON A CARCINOGENIC GAS
The Charleston Gazette-Mail interviewed Leah Barbor, our West Virginia field organizer, about the chemical ethylene oxide which is used in medical sterilization facilities, and linked to elevated cancer risk. On behalf of residents in her home state of West Virginia who are exposed to elevated levels of ethylene oxide, Leah called for regulators to act: “It is time for EPA to take decisive action, including consistent testing of outdoor air near facilities that use the chemical, and to provide timely information with absolute transparency to the surrounding communities. All children have the right to breathe clean air, and it is the responsibility of the regulating body to keep our children’s health and well-being in integrity by regulating polluting facilities adequately and with discernment. Why are these facilities allowed to release carcinogenic gas into our communities, especially at increasing rates?”
LISTENING TO INDIGENOUS WOMEN
What is key to surviving the climate crisis? Heather McTeer Toney, our senior advisor, ponders this question in her latest first-person essay for Dame. Heather finds that “our ability to listen, learn, and follow the direction of Indigenous women can be the key to surviving the climate crisis.” Why? “Had we heeded the wisdom of the ‘First Mothers’ from the beginning, maybe we wouldn’t be experiencing such extreme climate crisis effects, such as burning forest, dwindling water supply, and rapidly changing weather. Maybe, just maybe, if we follow their leadership now, if we listen to and assist in their mission, we can prevent further damage and learn to live in balance with our environment.” Importantly, Heather points out that Indigenous communities are the frontline protectors of the planet: “Although making up less than 5 percent of our world’s population, they [Indigenous people] manage and/or sit on roughly 80 percent of the ecosystems necessary to maintain and protect balance on our planet.”
AIR POLLUTION AND MENTAL HEALTH
In response to a new study finding young adults exposed to air pollution as children experience higher rates of mental health challenges, Very Well Mind spoke to field manager Elizabeth Brandt. Elizabeth underscored the importance of health-protective standards to ensure that vulnerable communities are not exposed to harmful air pollution: “Sometimes there’s no way to move away from the dirty air. The only thing to do to protect your family is to have a federal regulation that monitors the things that cause the air pollution.” She also noted the heavy burden of air pollution and climate change that Tribal communities are facing: “This community is also negatively affected by diesel fuel pollution due to a reliance on older vehicles and, because of a lower rate of access to electricity, more reliance on generators. This highlights the link between systemic oppression and increased risk for exposure to air pollutants.”
THE CASE FOR A LOW-CARBON ECONOMY
For coverage on the carbon intensity of West Virginia’s economy, the Charleston Gazette-Mail spoke to Leah Barbor, our West Virginia field organizer. Leah made clear that investing in clean energy and infrastructure should be a high priority for her state: “[The numbers are] a clear indicator that if we don’t begin to act, West Virginia risks falling behind as the rest of the country and world at large transition to a low-carbon economy. The longer West Virginia waits to start to do the work to clean up the power sector and diversify its economy, the further behind we will be.”
- Political insider David Axelrod interviewed Heather McTeer Toney, our senior advisor, for his podcast show “The Axe Files” for an exploration into the roots of her climate activism and commitment to environmental justice. Listen to Episode 445 here.
- The Albuquerque Journal caught up with New Mexico field organizer Celerah Hewes to know more about member support for strengthening the city’s single-use plastic bag ban and closing a loophole that allows stores to distribute thicker plastic bags at check-out: “We’re just going to keep talking about it until they’re able to make some changes.”