On May 20th, Moms Clean Air Force joined Vice President Kamala Harris and EPA Administrator Michael Regan at Meridian High School in Falls Church, Virginia to celebrate the historic $5 billion investment in clean school buses allocated through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. EPA will distribute the funding through the new Clean School Bus Program. School districts can apply using the online rebate portal.
National Field Manager Liz Brandt and her daughter Valencia (pictured above) met with Vice President Harris and Administrator Regan to talk about the electric bus that Valencia takes to school. Valencia enjoys the quiet, pollution-free ride, and is excited that the Clean School Bus Program will give more kids access to them.
Diesel buses expose children and communities to pollution that can trigger asthma attacks, harm developing brains, and even cause cancer. As Public Health Policy Director Molly Rauch says: “Diesel buses have no business being in the places where our children live, learn, and play.” Electric school buses are a zero-pollution alternative that do not release dangerous, health-harming and climate-altering exhaust.
POLLUTION PUTS FAMILIES AT RISK
The Pittsburgh City Paper reports on the new Earthworks Oil and Gas Threat Map that shows nearly 4 million US children live within half a mile of oil and gas operations. Moms are working with Earthworks to spread the word about this new resource and are citing the map as yet another reason that EPA must act quickly to cut methane pollution.
Moms are also calling on EPA to slash toxic mercury pollution by restoring and strengthening the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). At a recent press conference covered by Action News Jax, Florida organizer Yaritza Perez explains why strong mercury and air toxics safeguards would protect our families: “Children are especially vulnerable to the health effects of Mercury, and pregnant women can pass mercury through their placenta into the brains of developing babies…Mercury is also linked to heart disease. Florida is home to many families with young children, and we have so many elderly and retirees here too.” Yaritza underscores why strong protections are so important: “By setting the strongest possible standards to slash mercury, arsenic, and other toxics in our air—we’ll save lives.”
Out in Colorado, the impacts of air pollution are hard to ignore. Wildfire smoke, pollution from oil and gas operations, and vehicle exhaust fuel the climate crisis while also making the air hazy and unhealthy to breathe. One of our Colorado organizers, Shaina Oliver, says that our leaders need to do more to protect our children from climate change, and that they need to do it now. Shaina tells the Colorado Sun: “Just as those before fought for survival and justice, I fight for a healthy future for the next seven generations…The next generations are dependent on our strength today.”
“THE CLIMATE CRISIS IS A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS”
EcoMadres Program Manager Carolina Peña-Alarcón spoke on a panel at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s annual summit. An article in Front Page Live reports on the panel, which focused on the intersections of health and climate change. Latino communities are disproportionately impacted by climate change and air pollution, and children are especially vulnerable to the climate crisis. But, as Carolina says: “The climate crisis affects all of us. And it’s up to all of us to solve it.”
Climate change brings extreme heat and longer allergy seasons, but it also makes extreme weather events like hurricanes stronger and more frequent. Texas organizer Erandi Treviño lives in Houston, and remembers how hard it was for people to stay safe and meet their basic needs when Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017. Pregnant people and young children had to swim to safety, and it was difficult to find clean drinking water. Erandi tells Grist: “Having to live under these conditions creates stress which turns into ailments.”
Low-income families and communities of color often live with the first and worst impacts of climate change, which takes a toll on their health. Our former Environmental Justice Policy Analyst Hailey Duncan points out to Grist that these same groups also tend to have “lower access to health care,” which compounds the health impacts of climate change in these communities.
Project Manager Celerah Hewes and Senior Policy Analyst Elizabeth Bechard both penned op-eds that ran in their local papers.
In her Santa Fe New Mexican op-ed, Celerah celebrates New Mexico’s state-wide methane pollution protections. The newly-enacted rules require frequent inspections for all oil and gas wells, which complements the ban on routine venting and flaring that the state’s Oil and Conservation Commission finalized in 2021. Celerah writes: “This is a huge win for New Mexico’s families, especially those living closest to oil and gas production, which is a major source of air pollution from methane leaks.”
Since EPA is currently considering federal methane rules, Celerah underscores that EPA should “build from New Mexico’s leadership” and finalize strong, comprehensive protections. She writes: “Anything less is a missed opportunity that could have dire consequences for our families and our climate.”
In her Chapelboro op-ed, Elizabeth Bechard explains the importance of heavy-duty truck pollution standards. EPA is considering a truck pollution rule, but Elizabeth argues that the proposed version does not go far enough. Tailpipe pollution from these vehicles can trigger asthma attacks, fuel climate change, and even harm our mental health: “Truck emissions contain particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, both of which are associated with adverse mental health impacts. Vehicle emissions contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone (also called smog), and recent research suggests that ozone exposure may be linked to symptoms of depression in young people.” Truck pollution also contributes to climate change, which is a source of anxiety and grief for many. Elizabeth writes: “The science is clear, and it’s telling us: we must do everything within our power to reduce climate pollution as quickly and efficiently as possible to protect our children’s right to a livable future.”
ARIZONANS DEMAND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
Arizona Central interviewed organizers Hazel Chandler and Columba Sainz at an Earth Day rally in Phoenix, where hundreds of advocates, lawmakers, and Tribal leaders gathered to call for equitable solutions to climate change and environmental injustice. Hazel stresses the need for programs that help mitigate the extreme heat that Arizonans face and Columba says that she wants the federal government to invest in health equity.
A Moms Clean Air Force photo from the Earth Day rally also appears in the Public News Service.
- The Herald Dispatch reports on a letter signed by Moms Clean Air Force and dozens of partner organizations telling President Biden and members of Congress to make the investments necessary to revive the Civilian Conservation Corps.
- East City Art advertises an upcoming Storytelling with Saris installation in Washington DC that is supported by Moms Clean Air Force.
- The Sierra Sun Times details a Moms-endorsed letter that Members of Congress sent to EPA, urging the agency to finalize strong cleaner truck standards.