Last month, Moms were proud to stand alongside EPA Administrator Michael Regan as he signed off on the agency’s updated truck pollution standards. Our Senior Legislative and Regulatory Policy Manager Melody Reis (above) wrote in her press statement: “This is an important step forward in cleaning up the air our children breathe.”
The new standards will reduce tailpipe pollution from heavy-duty diesel-powered vehicles. Breathing this type of pollution increases the risk of bronchitis, asthma, heart disease, and cancer and can be most dangerous to children, whose little lungs are still developing.
Vickie Patton, Moms Clean Air Force co-founder and general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, also hailed the rule as an important health-protective measure. She tells the Detroit News: “The plan announced today includes long-awaited final emissions standards for nitrogen oxides pollution that will significantly reduce this deadly pollutant and ultimately save thousands of lives and prevent numerous serious illnesses every year.” This quote and article also ran in ArcaMax, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, and The Daily Item.
This plan is poised to protect everyone who breathes air, but communities that are exposed to the highest levels of truck pollution—disproportionately, low-income communities of color—have the most to gain. Grist reports on the environmental justice implications of the rule in an article that also ran in Salon and KCNET. The piece quotes Melody, who says: “Inaction is injustice for these communities, and this rule should make a tremendous amount of difference.”
Texas organizer Erandi Treviño is looking forward to how “tremendous” that difference will be. Erandi and her family live in southeast Houston, an area notorious for heavy pollution from industry, shipping, and trucking. Her home is surrounded by major polluters, and with a parking lot for 18-wheelers right next door, exhaust from diesel-powered vehicles is an ever-present threat to her health.
Erandi spoke about how truck pollution impacts her family at EPA’s press conference last month and elaborates in an interview with Radio Bilingue: “Living around heavy truck pollution affects our health… [My niece] has severe allergies and respiratory problems that very often interrupt her sleep. My other niece, who is eight years old, has eczema, and after being through Hurricane Harvey, extreme weather events cause her great anxiety.”
Erandi continues: “By 2045 FEMA estimates that carbon dioxide emissions from heavy-duty vehicles would decrease by 48% as a result of the new regulation and that it could also prevent up to 2,900 deaths by the year 2045. Not only is this important because it will help the health of many communities, but it is also important because there are what are called ‘sacrifice zones’ across the country, like some neighborhoods here in Houston, which see much higher levels of pollution compared to other neighborhoods.”
All too often, Erandi sees pollution-reduction initiatives in Texas lose steam owing to the misconception that clean air comes at the expense of jobs. She stresses that this simply isn’t true: “The reality is that you can have both.”
TAKING CARE BY TAKING ACTION
Senior Policy Analyst Elizabeth Bechard is Moms Clean Air Force’s expert on the intersection of climate change, air pollution, and mental health. She (literally) wrote the book on Parenting in a Changing Climate, led the creation of our new Climate & Mental Health resource page, and, most recently, spoke to Good Morning America about climate distress.
Elizabeth says: “It’s really normal to feel anxiety when things that we care about are under threat… This is a sign that you are paying attention. It’s a sign that you care.” She explains that taking action with others can be an antidote to both climate change and the anxiety many of us feel about it: “The thing that’s really going to push the needle is acting with other people to ask for change at the systemic level. So, I would say, if you had to do one thing—join a group… When we act together it amplifies the impact of our action and there are mental health benefits too to acting with others.”
In closing, Elizabeth says: “We love our kids. And taking climate action in any form—thinking about it as a way of expressing your love for your kids—can help you stay connected to why this matters so much.”
POLLUTION IS A BAD NEIGHBOR
Pittsburgh Action News 4 interviewed Ohio River Valley coordinator Rachel Meyer about her experience living less than 15 miles from the newly operational Shell ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. The plant only came online this fall, but the pollution it released since then has already warranted a notice of violation from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Rachel has asthma and tells the news station that she has to manage “wheezing and shortness of breath” when industrial pollution triggers a flare. But her primary concern is how the toxins from the cracker plant will impact her daughter. Rachel says: “I worry for my three-year-old, specifically with what she’s breathing. I don’t want her to end up with asthma like me.”
CLIMATE CHANGE AND HUMAN MIGRATION
Carolina voluntarily immigrated to the US from Bolivia, but many families across the globe don’t leave their homelands by choice. Carolina writes: “There is clear evidence that climate change results in mass migration from developing countries because of its impact on agriculture, water resources, and infrastructure.” Unfortunately, these families often find hardship in their new countries. Carolina explains that a large proportion of migrants have to work in jobs that expose them to extreme heat, chemicals, and other unsafe conditions. She writes: “It is our moral duty to work together and find ways to protect the lives of millions of people, especially the most vulnerable… Our health, that of our families and communities, and even the planet, cannot afford to wait any longer. It is in the hands of each one of us.”
To learn more about climate change and migration, check out our new fact sheet.
- An excerpt from Melody’s quote in Grist is included in the caption of the Now This Earth Instagram post about EPA’s truck pollution standards.
- An @CleanAirMoms Twitter post is listed in the White House’s “WHAT THEY ARE SAYING” round-up.
- Law 360 quotes Erandi in an article outlining the significance of EPA’s new rule. Erandi says: “EPA’s Clean Trucks Plan means recognition that sacrificial zones like my beloved neighborhood of southeast Houston are unacceptable… That said, there is considerably more work to be done.”