Record high temperatures, ozone pollution, and wildfire smoke threaten the health of families across the nation, but Latino communities live with some of the worst impacts of climate change and polluted air. EcoMadres Program Manager Carolina Peña-Alarcón (above) and Chispa’s Alejandra Ramirez-Zarate, co-authored an op-ed for Latino Los Angeles about this environmental injustice. They highlighted that Latino children suffer from high rates of asthma, which can be triggered by air pollution.
While Latino families often live near major sources of health-harming pollution, they also tend to have lower access to health insurance and health care. Carolina and Alejandra write: “An illness in our homes means having to decide between going to the market, paying rent, going to the doctor, or buying medicine. We know this all too well, because Hispanic children are 40% more likely to die from asthma, as compared to non-Hispanic whites.” This op-ed also published in Spanish in Hispanic LA.
Watch Moms Clean Air Force’s upcoming Health Equity Panel, “Protecting Latino Families From Extreme Heat,” to learn more about how the climate crisis affects Latino communities. The conversation will be posted HERE on July 26.
SPEAKING UP ABOUT METHANE POLLUTION
Senior National Field Manager Patrice Tomcik testified before the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, urging leaders to quickly and significantly reduce methane pollution and pass legislation that invests in clean energy. UPI quotes a segment from Patrice’s written testimony: “Methane is a potent greenhouse gas responsible for over a quarter of current global warming, and the oil and gas sector is the nation’s largest industrial source of methane pollution.”
Methane, the main component of natural gas, is extracted through a toxic process called “fracking.” Patrice told the committee that her kids go to school about half a mile away from gas wells that have been fracked. She worries about how pollution from these operations is impacting their still-developing lungs.
Ohio field organizer Tracy Sabetta points out in the Herald-Star that methane pollution isn’t just bad for our health and our future—it’s bad for our wallets too: “If you look at prices from 2019, there’s more than $700 million in wasted natural gas. That is enough to supply over 3.6 million homes in the U.S. annually, or to power every single home in Ohio.”
NEVADA WILDFIRE PANEL
Nevada organizer Jennifer Cantley spoke on a panel about wildfires in her state. 2 News reports that panelists say climate change and drought are partly to blame for the frequency and intensity of these fires.
Air quality is a major concern when smoke fills the skies. Jennifer explained to reporters that she relies on the website Airnow.gov to tell her if the air outside is safe for her and her family to breathe. According to Public News Service, Jennifer often finds that air quality in rural communities is just as bad as it is in the big cities. Jennifer is concerned that despite having poor air quality, many rural areas lack air monitoring systems, making it harder for families to know when and how to protect themselves.
As reported by KUNR Public Radio, Jennifer and her family know firsthand how dangerous wildfire smoke can be. One time, she checked on her children when the air quality index around her home was almost 600 (a “Hazardous” rating) and “had the horrible experience of waking up and hearing my youngest [child] barely breathing… All I could hear was labored breathing. When I went into the room, his oxygen was down to 82%.”
Because air pollution is so harmful to developing lungs, Jennifer keeps her kids inside when air quality is poor. The Nevada Independent reports that Jennifer remembers her kids “literally climbing on the walls” after they went “straight from COVID-related school lockdowns to a historically-bad summer smoke season,” but “it was safer than having them play outside in the smoke.”
“WE STILL HAVE TIME TO ACT”
Colorado organizer Laurie Anderson tells Parent Nation that the fight for clean air is a personal one. When a large-scale oil and gas development threatened to move into her community, Laurie says that she spent “every spare moment … advocating against this project.”
The project ended up moving forward, but Laurie has not lost hope. She is still working hard to secure a healthy future for her kids. She says: “If you’re not giving children a livable climate and clean air to breathe, all the other issues become secondary.” Laurie is “sometimes daunted by the size of the task at hand,” but she’s not giving up: “We still have time to act, and we can’t afford to hand this off to our children. That keeps me going.”
KEEPING IN THE SPIRIT OF JUNETEENTH
Our National Manager for Health Equity, Almeta Cooper, spoke to Public News Service about how members of Nevada’s Black community are channeling the spirit of Juneteenth to fight for environmental justice. Almeta encourages Nevadans who are concerned about the environment, inequity, and injustice to get involved with Moms Clean Air Force: “We have many projects that, once an individual connects with us, we can empower you to go further … to connect with your elected officials, to tell them what you need in your community.”
A second Public News Service article reports that Almeta draws parallels between Juneteenth and the environmental injustices faced by Black and brown communities. She says that the Juneteenth spirit is about recognizing that people maintained hope even while waiting for liberation.
- PA Environment Digest Blog printed a letter that Moms Clean Air Force and 13 of our partners sent to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, urging them to vote against a bill that would hamper efforts to plug orphan wells.
- Moms Clean Air Force is represented in the feature photo of The Verge’s article about the West Virginia vs. EPA Supreme Court decision.
- Transport Topics reports that Moms Clean Air Force, members of other environmental organizations, and community leaders showed up in (virtual) droves to testify before EPA in favor of a waiver allowing California to set stronger tailpipe pollution standards than federally required. Read testimony from Senior Policy Analyst Elizabeth Bechard, 11-year old Oscar Hauptman, and other Moms members on our website.