President-elect Joe Biden announced last week that he had chosen Michael S. Regan as his nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Moms Clean Air Force’s co-founder and head, Dominique Browning, warmly congratulated Regan on his nomination, which sends “a powerful message that [Biden] is serious about repairing the damage done by the previous Administration and restoring the agency to its mission of protecting our environment and human health based on clear science.” The Biden-Harris administration has made other historic selections for a climate team poised to tackle the urgency of climate and air pollution. Moms are celebrating that commitment.
MOMS CELEBRATE EPA NOMINEE AND ENVISION CHANGE
Washington, D.C.’s National Public Radio (NPR) station wrote about Michael S. Regan’s nomination, focusing on how the nominee is poised to address environmental justice as a priority for the EPA under the Biden administration: “Poor people and people of color are disproportionately affected by both climate-driven disasters and air and water pollution. Dominique Browning, the head of the national clean air advocacy group Moms Clean Air Force, reacted positively to the news that Regan might lead the EPA. ‘This nomination signals a high level of ambition for addressing issues of racial inequity in who breathes polluted air, and what can be done to get us to climate safety.’ ”
Speaking to Vice News about priorities for the EPA under new leadership, Molly Rauch, our Public Health Policy Director, argued that protecting vulnerable communities from climate change and air pollution means both repairing the damage done by the previous Administration and restoring the agency to its mission of protecting our environment and human health based on clear science. Molly points out that the more than 100 rollbacks to our clean air protections that hit communities of color first and worst are “codifying a pattern of ignoring the racial implications of environmental policy.”
Columba Sainz, our Arizona field organizer and EcoMadres program co-lead based in Phoenix, penned a timely op-ed (in Spanish) for Univision, the American Spanish-language outlet, about parents’ resolve to partner with the Biden-Harris Administration to pursue the boldest climate plans: “Moms like me understand that cleaning up pollution can help protect our health, grow good jobs, and address racial injustice. We are eager to support policies that prioritize health and equity while growing the economy. After four years of defending our children from an unprecedented series of clean-air rollbacks, and exhausted by the Trump Administration’s refusal to acknowledge the severity of the climate crisis, we are relieved to turn our attention to building a secure and just future for our families. […] It’s time to act on climate. Let’s get to work!” [Translated from Spanish]
FULFILLING THE PROMISE OF THE CLEAN AIR ACT
In an op-ed for the Orlando Sentinel on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Clean Air Act, our member Piper Vargas (see photo above) shares what it’s like to live as a family in the shadow of a power plant that continues to burn dirty coal and store coal ash without any protective barriers in place to prevent it from entering the air: “As a parent with young, vulnerable children, I want my kids to be able to play safely in our backyard, at the local parks and at their friends’ houses. I also want them to enjoy a future with clean air and have fought to ensure our community is being heard at the local level when it comes to addressing these dangerous sources of air pollution. The Avalon Park community, with thousands of families, several schools and parks, is within a few miles of this dangerous coal ash waste.” Piper asserts that we need to “look ahead to the next 50 years to make sure the law can continue to do its job and ensure the promise of clean air for all Americans. […] That starts with reversing the reckless rollbacks of the past administration and strengthening existing standards that are meant to protect our communities from air pollution.”
AIR POLLUTION DEATH INQUEST INSPIRES HOPE FOR JUSTICE
In a landmark decision about the 2013 death of 9-year-old Londoner Ella Kissi-Debrah, a coroner determined that air pollution was one of the causes of her death. With this decision, Ella became the first person in the United Kingdom– and possibly the world — to have air pollution officially recognized as a cause of death on a death certificate. Ella had asthma and was exposed to dangerous air pollution levels in her neighborhood. Ella’s mother, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, has spent years fighting for this official recognition.
The Spanish daily newspaper La Vanguardia published a feature on this remarkable story, which concludes with a quote from Molly Rauch, our Public Health Policy Director, as taken from our press statement: “No parent should be faced with the devastating possibility that the air their child is breathing is deadly. Yet that is what Rosamund has faced, and her courage in fighting against this injustice is an inspiration to moms around the world. […] Thanks to Rosamund, lawmakers now have the duty, and opportunity, to create a safer, more stable, and more equitable future for all children.”
SHOUT-OUT TO OUR VICTORIOUS COLORADO MOMS
Boulder County now has in place what its commissioners say are likely the strongest local oil and gas development regulations in Colorado. As reported by the Daily Camera, Moms Clean Air Force’s Colorado chapter is credited with being part of the coalition that fought for these regulations: “A coalition of local organizations, businesses, community leaders and residents, led by 350 Boulder County, The Lookout Alliance, Sierra Club, the Niwot High School Environmental Club, Sustainable Resilient Longmont, Moms Clean Air Force and others, have turned out hundreds of people to testify for stronger regulations and ultimately a countywide ban.” Here is a related press mention in The Pagosa Daily Post.