The new Biden-Harris administration marks a momentous turning point for our health and climate. After being inaugurated on January 20th, President Biden returned the U.S. to the Paris Climate Agreement and signed executive orders reversing dangerous rollbacks implemented by the Trump administration. Thanks to a spate of energy and environment-focused orders encompassing emissions, including methane and mercury pollution, fuel efficiency standards, restoring science to rule-making, and addressing climate change, our families will be more protected from pollution. Moms welcomed these pro-climate actions in a statement found here. Still, we have so much more to do. To lend your voice to the chorus of moms calling on the new administration to act boldly to fix the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and pass pro-climate legislation, sign our petition.
ADVOCACY ON CAPITOL HILL POST-SIEGE
The Washington Post interviewed our director, Dominique Browning, to get her views on how nonviolent climate activists are reconsidering protest tactics on Capitol Hill following the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. Dominique questions the double standard when it comes to treatment of nonviolent protestors versus treatment of pro-Trump rioters on the day of the attack: “‘We’ve had people taken out of line because they have milk in their backpacks,’ said Dominique Browning…whose members often show up at committee hearings in signature red T-shirts. ‘That’s the kind of security [used] against mothers with their children.’ ‘ I am furious,’ she added, reflecting on the ease with which the pro-Trump crowd breached the barricades around the Capitol. ‘This has put everybody in a much more dangerous place.’”
In the wake of the siege, Heather McTeer Toney, immediately thought: “How the hell can we talk about climate change at a time like this?” Writing in Dame magazine, Heather discusses how we can and must talk about climate right now, because confronting both domestic terrorism and climate denialism require a well-functioning democracy: “[I]n a country built on a foundation of democracy, these actions can only be effectuated and sustained when the democracy works. Climate action cannot exist in a vacuum: It requires the participation of all of us.”
HOLDING ELECTRICITY PROVIDERS ACCOUNTABLE
Orlando, Fla.-based member Piper Vargas, who lives near the Stanton Energy Plant, teamed up with our Florida organizer Yaritza Perez to speak on-camera with their local TV station Channel 6’s investigative reporter about the plant. The plant burns dirty coal and stores coal ash without any protective barriers, despite a five-year plan to replace coal with natural gas. “ ‘When you become a mom, you start to think differently about the world and what it means for their future,” said Piper Vargas. [Burning coal] immediately affects our health being outside in this neighborhood – in this community – with young kids,’ Vargas said.” Meanwhile, “Perez said her group’s fight to move faster toward 100 percent renewable energy isn’t over. ‘It’s great. I’m excited, but we can definitely do better,’ she said. ‘We can do better, and I’m really going to press and continue to press to do better.’ You can view the full segment here.
MOMS AS CLIMATE MOVERS AND SHAKERS
Several high-profile climate scientists, who are also mothers, have teamed up for a climate information campaign dubbed Science Moms. To learn more about the history of moms advocating for a stable climate on behalf of their children, the Los Angeles Times spoke to our director, Dominique Browning about the movement: “Dominique Browning…said that when environmental organizations have tried to talk to mothers about climate change in the past, they’ve often emphasized the need to make individual choices, such as driving less or hanging wash to dry on a clothesline, rather than taking political action. Meanwhile, polluting industries have targeted mothers with advertisements featuring happy families and children breathing clean air. ‘Everyone is circling around this space of moms,” Browning said. To the climate scientist mothers, she said: ‘Welcome to the fight.’ ”
The news outlet Energy & Environment paid homage to Moms Clean Air Force for paving the way for this effort: “Science Moms joins other organizations — from Mothers Against Drunk Driving to Moms Clean Air Force and Mothers Rise Up — seeking to tap the demographic as a catalyst for change.”
HOW DO WE ACHIEVE PRO-CLIMATE LEGISLATION?
Moms Clean Air Force co-hosted an online town hall climate event on January 13th led by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), who chairs the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. In a wide-ranging discussion on the prospects for climate and environmental legislation in the new Congress, Rep. Castor argued that enacting the “cleanest, greenest” infrastructure package later this year would provide opportunities to advance clean energy and other climate-related initiatives. As part of the Q&A, Heather McTeer Toney asked about “priority legislation” in the first 100 days of the Congress that would provide “equitable climate solutions.” According to Inside EPA, Rep. Castor said she hopes that Congress enacts the Environmental Justice for All Act, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Donald McEachin (D-VA).
Bloomberg also reported on this town hall with dozens of environmental and public health advocacy groups and cited Moms Clean Air Force as a lead participant.
IMPACTED COMMUNITIES SPEAK UP IN COLORADO
In reaction to a plan by Colorado climate and energy officials to bring the state’s planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions in line with the targets set by lawmakers in 2019, our Denver-based organizer Shaina Oliver issued this statement, which a few newspapers including Colorado Newsline quoted: “The greenhouse gas roadmap must ensure that communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by harmful pollution and climate change are first in line for clean air protections. Gov. Polis must fully listen and learn from Indigenous, Black and Brown people’s experience with pollution in order to protect the health of Colorado’s most impacted communities.”
FIGHTING FOR RENEWED HOPE IN IOWA
Karin Stein, our Iowa field organizer, co-authored an opinion piece in her local paper the Grinnell-Herald Register in which she speaks from the heart about all the ways that climate change has made life harder for Iowans—on top of a raging pandemic. As Karin writes about the future: “We envision a safe, stable, and equitable future where all children breathe clean air, regardless of their skin color or where they live. We will hold the president-elect to his promise to restore science-based rulemaking and our global leadership on climate, because we know our children’s, grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s health and future depend on it, and we must start righting the wrongs of environmental justice.”
In the Spanish-language magazine Viento Iowa (“Iowa Wind” in English), Karin authored an opinion piece expressing her ardent hope that 2021 will be better for Latino families. In reviewing the damage of 2020, Karin shares: “Both the climate-change driven extreme weather events and the devastating pandemic have highlighted the terrible inequities in our society. These crises have had disproportionate effects on those who are already dealing with inequity and racism.”
- Real Simple presented its readers with service ideas to honor Martin Luther King’s legacy on what would have been his 92nd birthday. Heather McTeer Toney shared: “One of the last acts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy was supporting sanitation workers: men who worked under a cloud of pollution and environmental inequity. Supporting the environmental health of your community is not only a way of honoring the legacy of Dr. King, but also ensuring that future generations are able to realize Dr. King’s dream by seeking Justice in Every Breath.”
- As part of the Clean Energy for Biden virtual inaugural ball Heather McTeer Toney joined many luminaries in the climate movement as a featured speaker, as reported by POLITICO.
- The medical website Web MD sourced our “air pollution and older adults” resource for their slideshow on smog-polluted cities.