As Mother’s Day approaches, we hope each of you takes a moment to celebrate the moms who inspire you deeply. At Moms Clean Air Force, our field organizers — past and present — are a fitting example of the power of motherhood to protect our children from harm. We need these brave voices more than ever, as each day we see communities ravaged by COVID-19, only made worse by the EPA’s relentless attacks on our health. In this edition of Moms Make News, we are proud to share the work of moms from Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire who are fearlessly fighting back against injustices in their communities. These women offer but a small glimpse into the thousands of incredible women leading the fight for clean air and climate safety.
FEARLESSLY FIGHTING INJUSTICE IN COLORADO
What does it mean to live near a fracking site with toxic emissions during a stay-at-home order? Grist looked for answers in “Sheltering Near Fracking: Coronavirus has these retirees sheltering in place. A frack site nearby has them scared for their lives.” The article features Laurie Anderson, our Colorado field organizer based in Broomfield. Her town is home to the Livingston fracking site, which contains 18 wells owned by Extraction Oil and Gas. As a Broomfield city councilwoman living just half a mile from the fracking site, Laurie addresses the mounting concerns faced by fellow residents, many of whom are over 65 and more susceptible to COVID-19 complications. Residents cite noise, odors, and health symptoms — all of which contribute to anxiety and stress — among other complaints. Laurie has been trying to protect her community during the pandemic including pursuing an order to postpone a pollution-laden process known as “flowback.” Though that particular measure was dropped after a judge interjected, Laurie is not one to give up on ensuring public health is protected. In fact, Laurie is more committed than ever to oversight, including data collection, so that the city has a clearer picture of the public health risks that fracking poses to her community. These efforts, in turn, might help to overcome the next legal challenge: “[Laurie] said that part of the reason the town’s order was abandoned was due to the lack of data showing that flowback would put residents at greater risk. Now they are collecting that data—but by the time any potential harm comes into focus, it will be too late. Residents will have been exposed,” as the authors point out. It’s why Laurie sums up the harrowing situation this way: “This community feels like guinea pigs, and I’m right there with them. We’re doing things that we don’t have the data to show that it’s safe.”
Laurie also shared her experience as an oil- and gas- impacted resident in her local newspaper. In a letter to the Boulder Daily Camera, Laurie writes: “As a mom and a Coloradan, clean air has never seemed more important to my family. I was shocked to see a new report from the American Lung Association giving Boulder County an ‘F’ grade for ozone pollution. Today, with the growing pandemic caused by COVID-19, we need to do everything we can to make sure our air is safe to breathe. While the federal government continues to roll back clean air protections, it is up to our state and local governments to protect our air quality. Colorado has always been at the forefront of clean air protections, and it is time to redouble our efforts. Thanks to new technologies, we can continue to cut emissions from oil and gas drilling operations and help protect public health. Clean air is important for all Colorado families. Let’s work together to keep everyone safe and healthy.”
FIGHTING INJUSTICE IN NEVADA AS AN ECOMADRE
Nevada-based organizer Cinthia Zermeño Moore is speaking up about the alarming number of regulatory roll-backs by Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), led by Andrew Wheeler, which undermine the health of all Americans, but especially those most vulnerable to the COVID-19. Writing in Los Angeles-based Hispanic LA, Cinthia writes (in Spanish): “By allowing more pollution in our air, our body’s ability to fight infection is reduced, so there is an increased risk of coronavirus-related complications. Exposure to air pollution can make asthma worse and our lungs more vulnerable to infection. In addition, air pollution increases the risk of hospitalization for pneumonia. In the midst of the global pandemic, there has never been a clearer indication of the importance of clean air as the basis for good public health.” [This excerpt has been translated from Spanish.]
Cinthia has been bringing her community together virtually through live, moderated “Cafecitos” with Moms Clean Air Force’s Ecomadres program, which works with Latina moms to fight for children’s health. Cafecitos engage Latinos in conversations with one another and with their lawmakers about the environment’s effect on their community’s health. You can see Cinthia in action in the video of the bilingual Cafecito entitled “Clean Air, Coronavirus & Latino Community.” In the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic triggered school closures and stay-at-home orders across the country, Ecomadres has collaborated on six virtual Cafecitos, attracting tens of thousands of views on Facebook.
Watch our recent Ecomadres Cafecitos here:
La respuesta de Nevada ante el coronavirus y la comunidad latina con asambleísta de Nevada Selena Torres junto con Karina Martinez with Nevada Assemblywoman Selena Torres
Earth Day Virtual Town Hall on COVID-19 and Pollution
Children’s Day Cafecito with Nathalia (a bilingual performer and music therapist)
Mister G Children’s Day Concert
Iowa/Coronavirus Cafecito: Iowa field organizer Karin Stein and Dr, Bartlett
FIGHTING INJUSTICE IN PENNSYLVANIA
Writing in Medium, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-5) shared how she is listening to her constituents in these challenging times. She highlighted a recent roundtable on protecting communities from pollution during COVID-19 that featured our Philadelphia-based project manager Mollie Michel. Mollie shares what it means to be in warrior mode on Earth Day — and every day — as an advocate in a region with some of the highest childhood asthma rates in the country, as well as with low-income, economically-distressed areas that are at greater risk from the worst impacts of COVID-19. Listen to the conversation here.
FIGHTING INJUSTICE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
Former New Hampshire field organizer, Becky Whitley, penned the opinion “My Turn: Crises can be a catalyst for change” in the Concord Monitor. Becky shares how the COVID-19 pandemic lays bare inequities, but at the same time offers us a chance to meaningfully address the climate crisis.