Moms Clean Air Force gathered with Mothers Out Front and EPA Administrator Michael Regan for an electric school bus event at Flint Hill Elementary School in Vienna, VA. Fueled by the $5 billion investment in clean school buses recently secured through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA is making plans to help school districts leave dirty, diesel-powered buses in the rearview mirror.
While visiting the school, the Administrator met with Flint Hill students, rode an electric school bus, and gave remarks at the press conference that closed the event. Administrator Regan outlined the economic and health benefits of transitioning to clean, electric-powered buses: “The fact that we could have healthier air and not depend on international price volatility, and have affordable clean electric school buses is good for the school system and how we wisely use taxpayer dollars. It’s good for the children because they’re breathing cleaner air. And it’s good for the parents because they feel good sending their kids to school, knowing that one child could have one less asthma attack because they’re not exposed to diesel pollution. This is a win-win-win!”
Moms Clean Air Force Project Manager Julie Kimmel (above) told FOX 5 DC: “Every single bus is important. Diesel pollution is extremely dangerous… it can trigger asthma attacks, cause lung and heart damage, it can cause cancer, it can even affect children’s learning in the classroom. So every bus that we can transition away from diesel and to electric means that our air is cleaner and our kids are healthier.”
Ditching diesel is also key to preventing the worst of climate change. Carolina Peña, our EcoMadres Project Manager, told Front Page Live: “The climate crisis affects all of us. And it’s up to all of us to solve it. Right now, less than 1% of the 480,000 school buses in our nation’s school bus fleet are electric. Fortunately, change is happening, and this event today is a demonstration of leadership to tackle the crisis.”
CELEBRATING CLEANER CARS
In an op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania organizer Brooke Petry describes her experience living with asthma in Philadelphia–a city that received an “F” rating for air quality from the American Lung Association: “My mobility, even on foot, is constrained by the fact that I have asthma. When there is a heat wave or an ozone warning, I have to limit my time outside. I check my phone for the latest air quality alert, scan my list to see if I’m planning on buying anything heavy, and then decide whether it’s safe to get groceries.” Brooke’s daughter also has asthma: “It is painful to watch her spend weeks recovering from a mild cold or to hear her say that she was afraid to run with her friends at school because she didn’t want to trigger an asthma attack.”
But a recent determination by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gives Brooke and her daughter hope. EPA announced last week that it will once again allow California, and the 16 states (and DC) that follow its lead, to set stronger-than-federal vehicle pollution standards. States’ authority to set tougher standards had been jeopardized by the Trump Administration in 2019.
Brooke writes: “This isn’t just about people who drive cars — it’s about everyone who breathes air. The news is especially good for families living in congested areas with vehicle pollution that threatens their lives and health. That’s every resident of Philadelphia, plus millions of others. More than four in 10 Americans, or around 135 million people, live in places with unhealthy levels of air pollution.” But she urges EPA to do more: “Now that the California standard is reinstated, the EPA must set longer-term protections against tailpipe pollution for 2027 model cars and beyond.”
MOMS FIGHT FOR KIDS’ HEALTH
Arizona organizer Columba Sainz spoke to the New York Times for an article about how moms across the country are taking their children’s health and future into their own hands. Somini Sengupta, author of the article, writes, “A calamity that strikes your child can drive any mother to extraordinary action. That was certainly true for Columba Sainz of Phoenix.” Columba became active with Moms Clean Air Force and EcoMadres after her daughter was diagnosed with asthma. Columba says: “We are mothers and we know what our kids are going through. We just have to go wherever we can go and be that voice, and motivate the voices of other moms.”
CLEAN AIR FOR GENERATIONS TO COME
On March 4th, Arizona field organizer Hazel Chandler and members of partner organizations came together for a “March 4 Climate.” The group of activists marched from Senator Sinema’s office to Senator Kelly’s, urging the pair to support the climate provisions in the Build Back Better Act. Hazel tells 12 News that, as a great-grandmother, investing in climate is extremely important to her: “My great-granddaughter Ava was born in August when the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) issued a report warning of a code red for humanity. We have already warmed 1.1 degrees and we’re heading to pass 1.5 degrees before Ava gets out of grade school. I just cringe at the thought of what her future and the future of all of our children looks like.” Hazel stresses that there’s no time to wait: “We call on our leaders to come together. Act swiftly for the sake of children and all life.”
Wasting no time in the fight for her family’s future, Hazel also penned an op-ed that was published in the Daily Independent. She writes: “After living in Phoenix for more than 40 years, I know how damaging air pollution can be here…Daily, I live with the impacts of air pollution on my health including chronic cough, difficulty breathing and frequent respiratory and asthma-related events.”
Hazel emphasizes that reducing health-harming and climate-warming pollution can help: “If Congress passes bold climate investments, we can help prevent the worst impacts of climate change. The climate crisis is already damaging our health, infrastructure and economy — over the past five years, the United States has experienced 86 extreme weather events that caused more than $742 billion in damages and claimed thousands of lives. We know the risks to Arizona and our way of life, and we know what it takes to solve this crisis…we need President Biden and Arizona’s leaders in Congress to act now — before our health and environment suffer even more damage.”
KIDS NEED CLEAN AIR
Michigan organizer Elizabeth Hauptman and her son Oscar talked about the dangers of air pollution on the Mike & Jon Got It Going On podcast. Oscar shared his experience living with asthma: “I was running with my friends one time…I couldn’t breathe.” Elizabeth says that she and Oscar need to take special precautions when air pollution is high: “I can see if there’s poor air quality, that I need to prepare for Oscar to either be close to home so we can rush home to use his nebulizer or to make sure he has his inhaler on him. So, he’s one of 133,000 children here in MI that suffer from chronic asthma.”
Elizabeth highlights that strengthening the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards would help protect families from both mercury and the air pollution that can harm the lungs and heart and lead to cancer. She also encourages residents to check online for fishing advisories before eating any local catch, since many fish are contaminated with high levels of mercury.
- Yaritza Pérez, Florida organizer for Moms Clean Air Force, was included in Telemundo’s list of Latinas who are making history and inspiring their readers: “Yaritza Pérez is the field organizer for EcoMadres in Orlando, Florida. A proud mother and military veteran, Yaritza now serves her country by advocating for a cleaner environment for her mothers, veterans and her community.” Yaritza was nominated by Climate Power’s Antonieta Cadiz. This passage has been translated from the original Spanish.
- Scientists have known for a long time that air pollution harms the lungs and heart, but Environmental Health News (EHN) reports that a newer body of evidence has found that “air pollution also causes changes in the brain that increase the risks of mental illness, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and learning problems. Even small increases in air pollution have been linked to depression and anxiety.” EHN recommends that people concerned about the health impacts of air pollution join a clean air advocacy group like Moms Clean Air Force.
- During an interview for the EHN’s Agents for Change podcast, climate scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe emphasizes the importance of connecting with like-minded people. She specifically suggests joining Moms Clean Air Force.