Just one month ago, when Senator Manchin announced that he would not support climate investments in a reconciliation package, Moms held on to a “glimmer of hope” that Congress would reach an agreement after all.
To the nation’s surprise, they did.
President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law last week, after a flurry of secret negotiations on the Hill; robust advocacy engagement through rallies, phone calls, and meetings; and votes in both chambers of Congress. In a statement that appeared in Yahoo! News, our director and co-founder, Dominique Browning, called the IRA’s $369 billion in climate investments a “stunning achievement.” But she emphasizes that this win for climate and health is just a starting point: “With this investment, we are at yet another beginning. The beginning of building out a massive clean energy grid, with all the thorny issues of permitting and siting of industrial scale technologies. The beginning of overhauling our transportation system. The beginning of strengthening our Environmental Protection Agency in its mission to protect human health.”
The IRA is expected to reduce US climate pollution 40% by 2030 by making significant investments in clean energy and clean transportation while also cutting methane pollution from oil and gas operations. Enforcing the methane provisions hinges on EPA’s ability to measure pollution at its source. Texas coordinator Erandi Treviño tells Public News Service that methane pollution harms the health of families living near oil and gas wells, but that these communities often have limited access to air quality data. Accurate data is the first step in protecting fenceline communities.
Our coordinators in Arizona and West Virginia also weighed in on the IRA. In Yahoo! News and AOL, Arizona coordinator Hazel Chandler echoes what many of us are feeling: “I’m really excited about [the IRA].” Hazel says she’s grateful that Senator Sinema voted for the bill and that her Senator advocated for the addition of drought-relief funding.
West Virginia coordinator Lucia Valentine (pictured above) praised Senator Manchin for his support and leadership, telling the West Virginia Daily News: “This historic investment in our future comes at a crucial time in Appalachia, as devastating floods remind us of the urgency to act for the safety of our children and for future generations. The Inflation Reduction Act puts us on a path to a cleaner, safer, and healthier future.”
OLDER AMERICANS MOBILIZE FOR A LIVEABLE CLIMATE
Arizona coordinator Hazel Chandler is featured in a Yes! Magazine article about how older adults are mobilizing around climate change. As a great-grandmother herself, Hazel works to recruit others of her cohort to the climate movement. Hazel says: “I try to help them understand that there are concrete ways they can get involved.”
Hazel finds that lawmakers are surprised to see their older constituents fighting for strong environmental policies: “I heard them say again and again, ‘We didn’t think that older people cared about climate.’” Lawmakers are used to seeing climate as more of a youth issue, but Hazel highlights that intergenerational activism adds weight to their message. When she brings older activists to youth-led events, she notices that the “kids’ message is much more powerful when we all stand behind them. It’s not about telling them what to do. It’s about supporting what they’re doing and being able to give our elder perspective.”
MOM TO EPA: PROTECT KIDS FROM TRUCK POLLUTION
Rachel Meyer, our Ohio River Valley-based coordinator, penned an op-ed that was published in The Intelligencer and the Beaver County Times. As an elementary school teacher, she has “watched children suffer because of air pollution.” When air pollution triggered her own asthma, she “couldn’t even talk to the children if [they] were outdoors.”
Now, Rachel and her family live in rural Beaver County, Pennsylvania, where she and her two-year-old daughter are exposed to pollution from heavy-duty trucks. Diesel exhaust threatens everyone’s health, but babies and children, like her daughter, are especially vulnerable to the lung-, heart-, and brain-harming impacts of this pollution.
Rachel and her family aren’t the only ones suffering. She writes: “More than four in 10 Americans live in places where the air is unhealthy to breathe, and much of that pollution comes from the transportation sector.” Black, brown, and low-income communities are disproportionately harmed because of where they live, work, and play.
However, EPA is currently considering revised pollution standards for heavy-duty vehicles. EPA has an opportunity here to finalize rules that put our kids first. Rachel writes: “Like every mother, I want a healthy future for my child, and a healthy world for her to grow up in. The EPA’s proposal is a good start, but it needs to be stronger by prioritizing our children’s health—and their future.”
“AN UNPRECEDENTED FAILURE”
Back in July, when it seemed certain that significant climate investments would not be possible through the budget reconciliation process, Ohio coordinator Tracy Sabetta was one of many urging President Biden to declare a National Climate Emergency. She tells Public News Service: “It’s an unprecedented failure to not invest in a safe and healthy future for our kids… The Biden administration must use every tool at their disposal to reduce climate pollution that is directly threatening our children’s health.”
She points out that preventing the worst impacts of the climate crisis makes good economic sense: “Last year alone, there were 20 extreme weather- and climate-related disasters in the U.S. with losses that exceeded $1 billion for each of those.” And she says that these disasters took a greater toll on some families than others: “Those in lower-income and underserved communities were hit the hardest.”
This story also ran in the Kiowa County Press.
- La Presa posted information about the EPA Clean School Bus Program application webinar that Moms Clean Air Force co-organized with our partners.
- An article in The Arizona Republic mentions a letter that Moms Clean Air Force Arizona and other Arizona-based partner organizations sent to the offices of Senators Sinema and Kelly.
- La Raza del Noroeste features a tweet from @EcoMadres_ in a compilation of tweets from lawmakers and advocates about the IRA.