To raise awareness about protecting land sacred to tribes, wood carvers from the Lummi Nation cut, carved, and painted a 24-foot totem pole from a 400 year-old red cedar tree. This summer, that totem pole has travelled from Washington State to Washington, DC, making 20 stops along the way to honor 20 Native-led struggles where sacred lands, waters, and wildlife are imperiled by dams, climate change, and extractive industries. Moms Clean Air Force members were invited to usher in the final “Red Road to DC” tour stop at the National Mall in Washington, DC. There they joined the carvers in delivering a united message to the Biden-Harris administration and Congress that now is the time to empower communities working to protect all sacred places and First Peoples. Many of our members were on hand to welcome the carvers and other visitors at the blessing ceremony and rally headlined by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. Our blog post with photos is here.
ELECTRIC BUS TOUR MAKES SOME NOISE
Our “Let’s Get Rolling” electric bus tour with multiple stops across the country — from Arizona to Virginia — is garnering interest with every stop it makes.
In Arizona, the Spanish-language newswire Efe caught up with Columba Sainz, our Phoenix-based field organizer, about the electric bus tour and what inspires her activism: “Columba told Efe that she decided to join the tour out of concern for the air pollution in her hometown of Phoenix — where she lives with her family — and which often forces her and her children to stay at home, instead of going out to play in the park.” Yet, “[Columba] says her ‘story is not unique’ and that in Arizona, where 10% of children suffer from asthma, clean transportation is a matter not only of climate change, but of health.”
Telemundo/KTAZ in Phoenix also interviewed Columba, who shared her shock at discovering “how contaminated her air actually was, and how some communities are affected more than others.” To address these environmental injustices, Columba had this message for her lawmakers: “Take immediate action in cleaning up our transportation sector.” [Translated from Spanish; No link available]
In Georgia, The Atlanta Voice featured our electric school bus press conference, interviewing featured speaker Dr. Yolanda Whyte about the health harms of diesel pollution: “Dr. Whyte’s support for electric zero-emission buses is due to her understanding that early intervention is very important when it comes to addressing respiratory issues.” The coverage also noted our advocacy for federal funding to electrify school buses and promote the health and safety of kids.
Fox5 News in Atlanta was also on the scene to report on the electric school bus stop there. The coverage noted that Fulton County (an Atlanta area school district) had just received the state’s first fleet of electric school buses which would provide a safer alternative for transporting students.
In Iowa, The Des Moines Register covered a clean transportation event, where our state field organizer Karin Stein spoke alongside elected officials and advocates urging them to support federal funding for electric school buses. Asked about replacing diesel fuel-run school buses with electric buses in Des Moines Public Schools (the largest public district in the state) and beyond, Karin said: “If we transition our beautiful yellow school buses to 100% electric, our children will breathe cleaner air. The initial investment into electric buses is higher than diesel school buses, but they are 60% less costly to operate and maintain.”
Writing for the Iowa Environmental Council blog, our Iowa field organizer Karin argues that her state “can and should become an example for other rural states in how to transition completely to electric school buses.” For Karin, whose now-grown children logged thousands of hours on diesel-run buses before they left for college, it is critical that we “get it right for the next generation of school children.”
In Michigan, Brighton-based field organizer Elizabeth Hauptman convened a virtual press conference on electric school buses with state and county officials that Fox 47 News featured, noting that the state has two fleets of electric school buses in Lansing and Oxford that “have already improved air quality and saved the school districts money on fuel costs.”
In Nevada, Las Vegas-based field organizer Cinthia Zermeño Moore hosted a press conference on electric school buses which was covered by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The TV outlet KNPR was also on hand to report on the powerful lineup of speakers including Las Vegas Assemblywoman, North Las Vegas City Councilman, and a member of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, all of whom urged the federal government to invest in electric school buses.
In Virginia, Moms Clean Air Force Project Manager Julie Kimmel spoke at an electric school bus event in Virginia Beach featured in the Augusta Free Press: “[E]lectric buses clean up the air for our kids and communities. As the parent of a six-year-old daughter, I’m calling on Congress to pass bold climate legislation with meaningful investments in electrifying our school bus, transit, and trucking fleets — to protect the health and future for my daughter and her peers.”
In West Virginia, CBS affiliate WDTV and another local channel covered live a press conference in Morgantown where our field manager Elizabeth Brandt spoke alongside the city’s mayor and others to tout the benefits of electric buses and cleaner transportation. The latter outlet quoted Elizabeth recalling how the federal government has stepped up to take on big projects such as building the interstate highway system and the New Deal: “All of this, she said, is proof that transitioning to electric vehicles is feasible.”
A CALL FOR CLEAN ENERGY NOW
In her guest column for The Las Vegas Sun, Cinthia Zermeño Moore calls on her representatives to act on climate by taking aim at the transportation sector: “As the mother of a 4-year-old son with respiratory issues, I can speak to life in a traffic-congested area where pollution from cars and trucks aggravates my son’s breathing on a nearly daily basis. It’s a constant battle for my family, yet I know I am not alone in this struggle. Across the country, families like mine suffer the impacts of air pollution from the transportation sector — our nation’s largest source of carbon pollution and the largest contributor to climate change — first and worst….Now is the time for our nation to go big on an infrastructure package that will invest in our children’s future. The president’s plan meets the moment by investing in clean energy, clean infrastructure and clean transportation. Southern Nevada’s congressional delegation has always fought side by side with us for a better future, and we need them to hold firm and support a bold plan to truly help us build back better. Reps. Dina Titus, Susie Lee, and Steven Horsford, and Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen: Your communities are counting on you.”
VOTING RIGHTS AND SUPPORT FOR CLIMATE POLICIES
Given concerns that state voting restrictions could hinder the ability of communities of color to support clean energy and climate policies, POLITICO caught up with our senior advisor Heather McTeer Toney to know more. Heather underscored that “Black and brown communities are more likely to live right on the fenceline of polluting industries and have been so for years” which makes their higher levels of support for such regulations unsurprising. What’s more, “[w]e know Black and brown people are more likely to vote for the policies that we really need to save our environment. An attack on voting rights and attempts for voter suppression [also] equates to voter suppression for the climate community.”
Reflecting on the one-year anniversary of the passing of Congressman John Lewis and his tireless work to advance voting rights, national field manager Tonya Howard Calhoun (pictured above) opined in Successful Black Parenting that “the fight for equality and justice advances too slowly for Black Americans, especially when it comes to environmental justice.” Tonya shares how air pollution and climate change hit Black communities first and worst, which is why she supports President Joe Biden’s plan for a major investment in our communities to fight climate change, pollution, and environmental injustices — including at least 40% of the benefits of the proposed investments directed toward communities that have borne the brunt of pollution. Building off John Lewis’s famous call for making “good trouble,” Tonya says, “Mobilize for your children’s health. Take action for your children to breathe quality air. It is good, necessary trouble.”
WILDFIRE SMOKE TRAVELS COAST TO COAST
Wildfire smoke is wafting from the West Coast all the way to the East Coast, prompting worries about air quality. As a mother of four and a clean-air advocate, our National Field and Legislative Manager Trisha Dello Iacono shared with In Depth New Hampshire her concern about the effects that climate change is having on our health: “Here in New Hampshire, where my family spends the summer, the haze all around is a reminder that deadly heat and wildfires — both driven by runaway climate change — have impacts that go far and wide. It is high time that our country’s leaders deliver on climate, justice, and jobs.” The article notes that Moms Clean Air Force is “calling on Congress to pass an infrastructure plan that invests in clean energy and modernizes our infrastructure.”
HOW TO SET THE EXAMPLE ON METHANE
In an interview with Public News Service, national field manager Patrice Tomcik calls on her home state Governor Wolf to seize “an unparalleled moment” for Pennsylvania “to be a leader in methane-pollution protections for the rest of the nation.” Specifically, Patrice wants the state to close the loophole for low-producing wells, which are responsible for more than half a million tons of methane emitted by the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania: “When there’s a methane rule that is very protective, very comprehensive, it will cut the methane pollution and it will also help to rein in those very toxic other pollutants that can impact health.” Patrice would know: her children attend school near multiple gas wells and pipelines — places with the highest risk of health impacts, given the proximity to oil and gas operations.
- Moms Clean Air Force Senior Advisor Heather McTeer Toney’s essay in All We Can Save just hit bookshelves in paperback, as Bill McKibben reports in his column for The New Yorker.
- Inside EPA reports that Moms Clean Air Force was among many stakeholders to have met with Environmental Protection Agency and other Biden-Harris administration officials about plans to reverse the Trump administration’s rollback of Obama-era federal standards for light-duty vehicles.
- Speaking out against the red tide emergency in Tampa Bay, our Florida field organizer Gabi Da Silva
urged her Governor to take action: “Red tide negatively affects our tourism, economy, marine ecosystems and can have a serious effect on individuals with respiratory issues.”
- E&E News announced [behind paywall] new political appointees at the EPA, one of whom is a former Moms Clean Air Force staff member, Loni Russell, who joins the agency as a Deputy Associate.