Life as we knew it is on hold, but that has not stopped President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from attacking clean air protections. Despite the Coronavirus crisis, the EPA has announced that it is suspending enforcement of vital environmental and public health safeguards and rolling back America’s clean car standards–all in the span of one week, and with more rollbacks to come. Because of these moves, we are taking our powerful message to the media with more conviction than ever.
MOMS CONTINUE TO CONFRONT CORONAVIRUS
Our co-founder and senior director Dominique Browning expressed her outrage at the EPA’s continued assault on clean air protections and enforcement in the Washington Post Energy 202 newsletter: “Air pollution reduces our body’s ability to fight infection,” she said. “Pollution from power plants and trucks and cars is also one of the causes of the underlying heart and lung problems that make people more vulnerable to COVID-19.”
WURD’s “Reality Check” (96.1 FM) in Philadelphia, a daily public affairs program, invited Dominique to discuss the links between air pollution and COVID-19 deaths. During their conversation, Dominique pulls back the curtain on what Trump’s EPA has been doing while Americans are distracted by a pandemic: “They are using the cover of COVID to go ahead and push through an agenda that is radical, and that agenda is undoing forty years of health protections from the EPA.”
Writing in the oldest newspaper in the West, Celerah Hewes, our New Mexico organizer, penned an op-ed in the Santa Fe New Mexican entitled “New Mexico needs to prioritize public health.” Amid the pandemic, Celerah commends New Mexico’s Gov. Lujan Grisham for moving forward with methane waste and pollution rules that will protect families from dangerous air pollution: “This is a tough time for New Mexican families as schools and businesses close, travel is curtailed, and social interaction is limited due to the coronavirus pandemic,” Celerah writes. “There’s never been a more important time to protect vulnerable New Mexicans from lung-damaging air pollution.”
In Capital and Main, national field director Heather McTeer Toney cautioned against celebrating any reduction in air pollution during the coronavirus pandemic: “It’s a very privileged view,” she says, “and it ignores millions of disrupted lives and thousands of deaths that came first.”
MOMS DRIVE HOME THE DEFENSE OF CLEAN CAR STANDARDS
As Trump’s EPA finalized its rollback of our nation’s Clean Car Standards-one of America’s most important tools for fighting air and climate pollution-moms mobilized in full force to oppose this reckless and dangerous move. The final rule will increase cumulative greenhouse gas emissions by about 1.5 billion metric tons through 2040, and it significantly increases air pollution, which will cause asthma attacks and premature deaths numbering in the thousands.
In the Huffington Post, National Field Director and former EPA official Heather McTeer Toney questioned the intentions of EPA, charging that this policy U-turn “further reveal[s] the true priority of Trump’s EPA: protect polluters at all costs, even if it sacrifices the health of Americans.”
Speaking to the Associated Press (AP), our Michigan organizer Elizabeth Hauptman, whose son has asthma, shared her fears for his health. With increased air pollution from the rollback of the Clean Car Standards, Elizabeth says, “you just pray you get home in time to use your nebulizer.” Elizabeth’s story was shared by scores of outlets including the New York Post, Miami Herald and Salt Lake City’s NBC-affiliate TV station KSL. Elizabeth also expressed her frustration and outrage to Public News Service, saying, “I don’t understand why they would want to put children in danger. It just makes me sick to my stomach.” Our Arizona organizer Columba Sainz also spoke to the AP about the clean cars rollback. She fears for her daughter, who has breathing problems, as the Trump Administration unravels air pollution rules.
Co-founder and senior director Dominique Browning also weighed in on the rollback of the Clean Car Standards on Public News Service, again pushing back on the wisdom of dismantling public health protections during a public health emergency. At the same time, Dominique spoke to the California Public News Service about whether the Trump administration should respect California’s longstanding state authority to fight air pollution and climate change: “Vice President (Mike) Pence, during this pandemic, has been talking about states’ rights,” she said. “I find it hypocritical that he would do so about ventilators and disrespect state rights when it comes to cleaner cars.”
MOMS PROFILED IN PARENTS LATINA
It’s not all bad news out there! The monthly magazine Parents Latina features our unstoppable Arizona field organizer, Columba Sainz, and our co-founder and senior director, Dominique Browning, for its May cover story. Columba shares her passion for her fellow Ecomadres as she describes her family’s struggle to breathe clean air. “Groups such as Ecomadres are part of a positive trend: People are coming together to spread awareness about air pollution, especially about how it affects Latinos. And they’re fighting for change.” Columba shares how she began meeting more and more moms in her neighborhood whose families had experienced respiratory issues, which prompted her to learn more about air pollution and how it impacts children. As she says, “We want our community to be aware of how we’re affected by this problem. There’s nothing we won’t do to protect our children’s health.”