Moms from 18 different states and DC testified before EPA this week on the agency’s proposed rule to strengthen pollution standards for trucks and heavy-duty vehicles. Truck pollution fuels the climate crisis and harms our hearts, lungs, and brains. Low income communities and people of color often suffer the first and worst impacts of climate change and are disproportionately exposed to pollution from heavy-duty vehicles.
EPA’s proposal is a good start, but it does not go far enough. That’s why Moms are telling EPA to finalize standards that provide stronger pollution protections.
Scroll through excerpts from our testimony and learn more about how cutting truck pollution can help address health inequity and protect our kids. Take action by adding your name to our online petition.
SAYING NO TO POLLUTERS IN YES!
Our Pennsylvania organizer Vanessa Lynch (pictured above) spoke to Yes! about a Shell ethane-cracker plant that was recently built in her community and is set to come online later this year. The plant will produce one of the materials necessary for manufacturing plastic, releasing toxic air pollution in the process.
In order to operate, the Shell plant will need fracked natural gas. The fracking process requires enormous quantities of chemicals and releases air pollution like formaldehyde and benzene. In Vanessa’s township alone, there are eight active gas wells and six more permitted if the demand rises. Vanessa says: “These plants don’t stand alone, and they require a high volume of natural gas to do the work that they do. So when you think about the Ohio River Valley and the potential for these sorts of very large polluters to become more and more common, it really does become a more concerning story.”
Vanessa worries about what will happen to her home—and the planet—if her local economy doesn’t start moving away from oil and gas, but she isn’t giving up: “I think about the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania, but I also think about all the amazing opportunities we have to protect this region and to remind people that our health and our well-being [have] value. It’s the project of a lifetime.”
SCHOOL BUSES SHOULD BE SAFE
E&E reports that diesel-powered school buses are making our kids sick and that electric school buses could be the solution.
This comes as no surprise to Moms Clean Air Force, which has been advocating the health and climate benefits of electric school buses for years. That’s why Moms are grateful that the Biden Administration is providing $2.5 billion in designated electric school bus funding, even though it’s a relatively small investment. Molly Rauch, our Public Health Policy Director, tells E&E: “We’re really excited about this funding, but it really is just a small fraction of what’s needed.”
Moms are also concerned that year one of the funding will be rolled out as a rebate. Molly says: “That has some equity implications, because there are a lot of districts that just aren’t able to put this money down upfront and then apply for rebates.”
But the funding is still a meaningful investment—every electric school bus makes our kids and communities healthier. High school senior Anika Gupta got to ride an electric school bus with EPA Administrator Michael Regan at a Moms Clean Air Force–sponsored event in Virginia last month. She says that the ride is much better than a ride on a diesel school bus, where “the bus smell is very strong, especially after school when all the buses are parked in front of the school and everyone goes and finds their bus and it just smells like gas.”
Moms’ Montana organizer Michelle Uberuaga points out that some kids are exposed to the diesel pollution for longer, depending on their after-school activities and how long each ride is: “In Montana, kids are spending, especially if they’re student athletes, sometimes five hours on a bus… The opportunity is huge for rural school districts when we make this transition, and the savings can actually be quite large.”
ELECTRIFICATION ADVOCATES SHARE ADVICE
Michelle Uberuaga and other electric school bus advocates talked about how they are helping their local school districts add zero-pollution buses to their fleets at a World Resources Institute webinar. Michelle has been involved in efforts to bring electric school buses to Montana, which is about to get its first one. She recommends that parents who want to help their districts ditch diesel unite the community on the issue and work with the school’s transportation department director.
Read more about the webinar in School Bus Fleet.
MOMS TELL SENATE TO ACT NOW ON CLIMATE
Nevada organizer Jennifer Cantley teamed up with other local and state leaders to urge the Senate to invest in initiatives that cut climate pollution.
Climate change is making extreme weather events more dangerous and more frequent, and in the West, it has led to larger, more destructive wildfires. Wildfire smoke is especially harmful to people like Jennifer, a COVID long-hauler who also struggles with asthma. Jennifer tells Kolo 8 TV that she is “dreading” fire season because of how it impacts her health: “I feel like there’s a weight on my chest. I’m having a hard time walking from my bedroom to my kitchen. I’ve had to do lung therapy and I have to have my inhaler with me all the time now. I’m not used to that.”
2 News also covered the event.
CLEANER AIR FOR TEXANS
Erandi Treviño, our organizer in Texas, talked to the Texas Observer about the electric school bus investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that was passed in November. The bill makes $5 billion in clean school bus investments, $2.5 billion of which is designated to helping districts add electric school buses to their fleet.
Unlike their diesel counterparts, electric school buses do not produce health-harming and climate-warming pollution. Erandi says: “Electrifying our school buses is just one of many things that we need to do to protect our communities and our kids.”
“AS A MOM, I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING”
Impacto featured Yaritza Perez, our Florida organizer for the state’s EcoMadres and Moms Clean Air Force chapter, in a list of Latina environmental leaders who are fighting the climate crisis. Yaritza explains why she was inspired to take action: “I realized that Latino children have 60% more asthma attacks than whites, due to the fact that 48% of the Latino population lives in industrial zones, with polluted water and air. As a mom, I have to do something.
“We Latinos are people of the land, and women are the ones who really rule the family, and we are not satisfied with a ‘no.’”
Yaritza’s quotes have been translated from the original Spanish.
- In an op-ed for the Boston Globe, IPCC Vice-Chair Ko Barrett writes that Moms Clean Air Force is one of the organizations demonstrating “the organizing ability of parents concerned with how climate change will shape the future of their children.”
- Slate France features a Moms Clean Air Force photo in an article about how the war in Ukraine could speed up the transition to clean energy.