Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) objected to the air quality permit renewal proposed by the state of Colorado for the Suncor oil refinery. One of the concerns that the EPA cited in its objection is the refinery’s impact on the surrounding communities, many of which are predominantly Black, Indigenous, Latino and low-income.
This is welcome news for environmental justice advocates like Moms Clean Air Force’s Colorado organizer Shaina Oliver (pictured above), who urged EPA to reject Suncor’s pollution permit in an op-ed she co-authored with Colorado 350’s Lucy Molina in the Denver Post. Shaina and Lucy describe the devastating impact that the refinery has had on the surrounding community, recounting one incident in 2019: “Suncor had an ‘operational issue,’ and a yellowish chemical dust blanketed the entire region surrounding its facility. Nearby schools were forced to shelter in place as the particles came raining down. The company’s response was to offer us all free car washes, as if exposure to this material did not warrant a full examination along with medical care. A car wash, as if these pieces of property were more important than all our lives, was incredibly insulting – particularly given the ongoing history of harm Suncor has inflicted upon our communities.”
But, as the Denver Post points out: “The EPA’s objections do not affect the Suncor refinery’s operations and they do not mean the agency will eventually deny the permit renewal.” That’s why Shaina and Moms Clean Air Force will continue to demand that EPA prioritize people over polluters for Suncor and beyond. Read Shaina’s post here.
SMALL HABITS, BIG DIFFERENCE
National Field Manager Elizabeth Brandt shares her expertise with Martha Stewart Living for an article about how simple changes to your daily routine can “save energy, reduce waste, and keep our waterways and lands both healthy and clean.” Elizabeth emphasizes that individual actions are important, but that large-scale change is needed. That’s why moms and other climate advocates should reach out to their elected officials and tell them to prioritize initiatives that cut pollution.
MOMS CALL FOR STRONG TRUCK POLLUTION PROTECTIONS
Colorado organizer Laurie Anderson joined Congressman Perlmutter, Broomfield Mayor Guyleen Castriotta, and State Senator Faith Winter in urging EPA to strengthen its proposed heavy-duty vehicle pollution standards. Laurie lives in Broomfield, Colorado, near the area devastated by the Marshall fire. Laurie says: “The climate crisis can’t wait… we need Congressional action now to call for the strongest possible heavy-duty truck standards to meet this critical climate moment and protect communities that are already living with extreme and dangerous weather conditions.”
Tailpipe pollution also harms our health and people of color and low-income communities are often disproportionately impacted: “By implementing even stronger clean truck standards, the EPA will also follow through on the Biden Administration’s stated commitment to environmental justice since low-wealth communities and communities of color are more likely to live in areas with high levels of hazardous air pollution, including areas near high traffic zones.”
Watch the conversation on KDVR.
CLIMATE CAN’T WAIT
12 News interviewed Arizona field organizer Hazel Chandler at the Arizona Youth Climate Coalition’s rally for climate action at the state capitol. Hazel says: “We are where the scientists said we would be in 2050 or 2100. The worst case scenarios that they were putting out in the 80s and the 90s are happening right now. And it’s hard for me to look at this next generation and say, you know, we failed you.”
Hazel and the Arizona Youth Climate Coalition are calling on lawmakers to support legislation and investments that fight the climate crisis.
Molly Rauch, our Public Health Policy Director, spoke to The 19th about why transitioning from diesel-fueled school buses to electric-powered ones is so important for children’s health: “Diesel pollution… is carcinogenic. It triggers asthma attacks, interferes with brain development and learning. One of the most effective devices that delivers diesel pollution directly to children where they live, where they learn and where they play is the school bus.”
Molly explains: “We really need to get a handle on air pollution from trucks, buses and all kinds of diesel engines wherever they are, because those are contributing to … air pollution and thousands of lives are lost each year to diesel pollution in the U.S.”
A BREATH OF FRESH AIR
Molly also talked to Forbes about the American Lung Association’s new “Zeroing in on Healthy Air” report. The report estimates that transitioning to pollution-free transport and energy could save 110,000 lives by 2050. Molly says that it’s important to learn more about these benefits so that “we can get a full picture of what it would mean to truly clean up the air for all of our communities.”
Molly emphasizes the health benefits of transitioning to clean transportation: “This is a public health necessity; to better protect children, people with asthma, older adults, and other vulnerable groups from the health harms of air pollution. That is why we are advocating for a rapid transition of our nation’s school bus fleet, our passenger vehicles, our heavy-duty trucks, and every vehicle on every road, to run on clean, zero-pollution electricity.”
SENATOR STABENOW SPEAKS ON HEALTH and CLIMATE
Michigan organizer Elizabeth Hauptman interviewed her Senator, Debbie Stabenow, about her work in the Senate to fight air pollution and climate change. Senator Stabenow talked about how climate change is affecting Michigan and the world, but says that we are not powerless in this fight: “The good news is that we can make a difference, we can slow it down but we need to act fast and we have a very short window left.”
The interview was promoted on the Mike & Jon Got It Going On! podcast website.
- Heather McTeer Toney, former Senior Director of Moms Clean Air Force, interviewed Dr. Beverly L. Wright, Founder and Executive Director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. The interview was published in Dame Magazine and focuses on the importance of race in understanding environmental justice needs and how white people can confront racism in their communities.
- Earlier this month, Public Health Policy Director Molly Rauch issued a statement to the press about EPA’s decision to once again permit California, and states that choose to follow California’s lead, to set stronger-than-federal vehicle pollution protections for cars and light trucks.