On the last day of February, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (WV v. EPA). This case is an attempt by coal companies and their allies to roll back decades of progress by gutting the Clean Air Act and blocking climate action, which is why over 200 people gathered on the Supreme Court’s steps that morning, asking the Court to uphold the EPA’s authority to limit climate pollution. That same day, the IPCC released its climate report, which warns that time is running out to curb the human-caused pollution that is warming our climate and increasing extreme weather events.
The United Press International interviewed Moms’ National Field Manager Elizabeth Brandt outside the Court for a story that also ran in News Break. Elizabeth notes that the implications of this case extend far beyond the EPA’s ability to take action on climate pollution: “If you’re going to gut the EPA’s ability to uphold different aspects of the Clean Air Act … I don’t know where the damage stops, in terms of their ability to protect human health and the environment, which is the core mission of the EPA.” E&E News also reported on the event, featuring Elizabeth and her daughter Valencia in the featured photo.
MOMS URGE EPA TO STRENGTHEN MATS
Dozens of Moms Clean Air Force staff and members testified before the EPA last week in support of the agency’s proposal to restore the legal foundation of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). MATS have helped cut mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants by over 80% since they were finalized in 2012, but coal plants continue to emit dangerous quantities of air pollution and more than 8,000 pounds of mercury each year. As our Public Health Policy Director Molly Rauch told EPA during her testimony, covered by E&E News: “We care about mercury because it harms our babies’ brains even in tiny amounts.”
Research shows that there is no safe level of mercury, so moms are asking the EPA to restore the legal foundation of MATS, as well as to reduce toxic pollution from power plants even further in a subsequent rulemaking. There is still time to send a comment to the EPA in support of this public health necessity.
TRAFFIC POLLUTION AND TRAILERS
Stephanie Klein (pictured above), DC-area organizer for Moms Clean Air Force, spoke to Forbes about a recent study that shows babies and children in bicycle trailers are exposed to higher amounts of pollution than the adults pulling them. Parents can cut their children’s exposure in half by using a trailer cover, which helps to protect them from asthma attacks and other health harms associated with breathing traffic pollution.
Stephanie says: “The idea that riders and their young passengers can be exposed to air pollution may not be on parents’ minds when they are on the open road. Parents are likely focused on physical safety, traffic, exercise, and the environmental benefits of cycling. One of the interesting things we see at Moms Clean Air Force is that often when people become parents, they suddenly start to see how air pollution contributes to the climate crisis—a realization that compels them to speak up. The stakes feel more personal, because they want to safeguard the planet for their children.”
Stephanie notes that the people riding their bikes often mean well: “They typically want to lower their carbon footprint and other types of air pollution like particle pollution. They’re not the ones who are polluting, but they are the ones who are exposed to pollution from other vehicles.”
CLEAN ENERGY FOR KIDS’ HEALTH
Moms’ Senior National Field Manager Patrice Tomcik spoke to Bloomberg Law about the need for investments in clean energy. Natural gas burns cleaner than coal, but Patrice emphasizes the health risks of extracting the gas: “Extraction, no matter what it is, impacts the communities.” Patrice knows this firsthand—she lives outside Pittsburgh, where “her kids attend school a half a mile away from an oil and gas well pad.”
Patrice says: “We need to have clean, affordable energy that is healthy for communities. That’s what makes it hard, but not impossible.” She points to progress the government and global community have made in cutting methane as a “model policymakers should emulate on clean energy.”
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Arizona field organizer Columba Sainz talked to Prensa Arizona about the importance of passing the Build Back Better Act and transitioning to clean energy. Columba says: “The first thing is to educate ourselves about what is happening, when we are educated we have the necessary tools, one of them is to talk to our elected officials at all levels of government. Specifically, there is a Build Back Better bill, we need our Senators to vote for it, because through this bill we will open up more investment in our communities, we will have a more climate resilient infrastructure and our children will be healthier.”
Columba’s quote has been translated from Spanish to English with the help of EcoMadres Project Manager Carolina Peña-Alarcón.