For Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States (June 19, 1865) which is now on the cusp of becoming a federal holiday, Moms Clean Air Force co-organized the virtual roundtable “Acknowledging Our History and Recasting Our Future” which will broadcast on our Facebook page here at 5:30PM on Saturday, June 19th. As a roundtable participant, our National Field Manager Tonya Howard Calhoun reminds us in her media statement: Juneteenth is “a joyous commemoration,” but also a “stark reminder that the fight for equality and justice advances too slowly for Black Americans… This Juneteenth, let’s recommit to liberating our communities and to protecting our families and our health.”
BREAKING DOWN LANGUAGE BARRIERS IN TEXAS and BEYOND
Spanish speakers need to learn about local air pollution concerns, weather-related disasters, and how to engage in the political process in their own language. Sometimes that language barrier can literally be a matter of life and death, as our Houston-based field organizer Erandi Trevino writes in her dual language op-ed in the Houston Chronicle — the first of its kind for the largest daily newspaper in Texas. In Houston, where 40% of the overall population are native Spanish speakers, information about pollution is limited “because the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, entrusted with protecting our public health, does not hold enough meetings or communicate publicly in Spanish…[w]hen will Texas catch up to its demographics?” Although some lawmakers and groups have prioritized language justice, progress is painfully slow in Texas. Erandi calls on large corporations and state agencies to “ensure the communities who stand to be impacted the most are included first,” something that “could bring us one step closer to a day when all families breathe clean air.”
CLEANING UP CAR POLLUTION
Writing in The Hill, regional field manager and Maryland resident Elizabeth Brandt argues that states must be allowed to protect public health by adopting tailpipe pollution standards more stringent than the national standards — as is the case in Maryland, along with 12 other states and the District of Columbia. The Trump Administration rescinded the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to grant waivers to states for their vehicle emissions. As Elizabeth explains, Biden’s EPA has now proposed to reverse this misguided move: “That’s why I testified this week — alongside dozens of other moms from all over the country — at a virtual public hearing about this proposal. This hearing is EPA’s first climate-related public hearing since Biden took office, and it’s a harbinger of the massive public support for addressing the climate crisis that is threatening our children’s health and future, with disproportionate impacts on Black communities and communities of color…The EPA can and must protect all Americans from dangerous tailpipe pollution with the strongest possible clean car standards. But in the meantime, the agency should allow states to once again protect clean air in their communities, save their drivers more money at the gas pump, and do their part to combat the climate crisis. Until the federal government ensures clean cars for all, give states back our legally-granted authority to preserve clean air.”
At the aforementioned hearing, where 40 Moms Clean Air Force members spoke about the need to set stronger standards for tailpipe pollution, Energy & Environment News took note of what our Ohio organizer Tracy Sabetta said in her testimony: “We need all the tools available in our toolbox to reduce harmful pollution and protect the health of our children and families. Reinstating this state authority gives us access to those tools again.” During the hours-long hearing, our members echoed the need to take stock of climate and public health benefits with tailpipe standards, especially for vulnerable communities disproportionately bearing the brunt of dirty air.
- Moms Clean Air Force’s Arizona organizer, Columba Sainz, commented on a poll in Arizona’s First Congressional District, which includes much of Arizona outside the metro areas of Phoenix and Tucson and is home to more Native Americans than any other congressional district in the country. The poll showed that a majority of voters support President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.
- The Missoula Current shared news of a family-friendly climate summit this month that is co-organized by our Montana chapter. The summit’s focus is on trainings ranging from community-building to societal transformation and the state’s energy future.