Climate change is putting our health and safety at risk. Denial won’t slow it down and neither will complacency — only action will.
That’s why news that West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin would not support climate investments in a reconciliation package felt so gut-wrenching to Moms and families across the country. Without his vote (or one from his Republican colleagues), major climate investments cannot move forward through reconciliation any time soon.
The disappointment hit West Virginia families especially hard. Mountain State field organizer Lucia Valentine writes: “Senator Manchin’s unwillingness to take action hurts the many families and communities in our state who are already experiencing the impacts of the climate crisis. But more than that, it hurts West Virginia’s economy and costs us jobs. It’s frustrating to know that he has squandered the chance to bring massive clean energy and climate investments into our state.”
But there is still hope. Senator Manchin and leaders in Congress could restart these negotiations and invest in our children’s health after all. Our Director and Co-Founder Dominique Browning says that, until there isn’t a “glimmer” of hope left, Moms will “talk to every Senator, every White House official, and everyone with influence in Congress to see what can be done…We need to look our children in the eyes and say: We did everything we could.”
MICHIGAN KIDS NEED GOOD NEIGHBORS
Michigan field organizer Elizabeth Hauptman (pictured above) is one of those moms doing everything she can. Her son has asthma and poor air quality makes his symptoms worse. She works tirelessly to mobilize families in Michigan, connecting them with their elected officials and helping them fight for clean air in their state. But some of the pollution making it hard for her son to breathe travels hundreds of miles from industrial facilities across state lines. Elizabeth writes in The Macomb Daily: “As any parents of an asthmatic child will tell you, when I see the fear in my son’s face as his chest tightens and he struggles to breathe, I feel frustrated that I can’t do more to protect him from this horrible disease.”
However, the Biden Administration can.
EPA is currently considering a strengthened version of the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, also known as the “Good Neighbor Plan.” This version would require power plants and industrial facilities to use existing technology to control their pollution. Elizabeth points out that, for some plants, this could be as simple as turning on pollution control mechanisms they already have installed. Elizabeth writes: “As a mother, I am constantly trying to protect my son, and I believe the EPA should do the same for communities across the country. The EPA is currently considering the Cross State Air Pollution Rule and I urge them to finalize the strongest version of this rule. Doing so is a vital step in ensuring that every child can breathe clean air.”
Elizabeth, her son Oscar, and other Moms testified before EPA in support of this health-protective standard in June.
A ZERO POLLUTION SOLUTION
Sarah Mostafa, a Moms Clean Air Force volunteer in Ohio, is raising a toddler in Cincinnati, which the American Lung Association has named one of the 20 most polluted cities in the nation. Pollution from heavy-duty vehicles like school buses is a major contributor to the city’s poor air quality. Sarah explains in The Enquirer that the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program could ease this pollution burden by helping school districts replace dirty diesel buses with clean electric-powered ones.
Diesel buses produce pollution that can trigger asthma attacks and cause cancer, and yet, millions of kids are being exposed to it every time they go to school. Sarah writes: “Put simply: Diesel pollution has no business being in the places where our kids live, learn and play.”
Sarah encourages Ohio school districts to apply for the funding before the August 19 deadline because “there is not a single electric school bus on the road in Ohio today” even though many are manufactured in the state. She writes: “If we can make them here, we should be able to drive them here and reap the rewards that come with cleaner vehicles. Our kids’ health is far too important for us to be left behind yet again.”
In Arizona, field organizers Columba Sainz and Hazel Chandler are also working to swap vehicle pollution for clean air. In a Media Planet-published insert that ran in USA TODAY, Columba and Hazel write that air pollution from vehicle exhaust “is sending tens of thousands of people to the emergency room and cutting thousands of lives short each year. The pollution from these vehicles also contributes to climate change.”
Columba and Hazel point out that it doesn’t have to be this way. Unlike fossil-fueled cars, trucks, and buses, electric vehicles do not produce tailpipe pollution. This is why they are “asking Congress, the EPA, the White House, and our local leaders to take action now” and help our nation “rapidly transition every vehicle on every road to run on clean, zero-pollution electricity.”
KICKING OFF LATINO CONSERVATION WEEK
EcoMadres Program Manager Carolina Peña-Alarcón, Program Coordinator Luz Drada, and other EcoMadres celebrated Latino Conservation Week (July 16-24) at the USDA Farmers Market in Washington, DC. Carolina and colleagues shared information about how climate and air pollution affect Latino communities.
Telemundo 44 interviewed Carolina at the market for their “Alerta Verde” series. Carolina says: “We see how climate change is affecting us directly and especially us Latinos, because we are living and working in places where there is pollution. Two out of five Latinos are shown to be living near gas or oil facilities, which directly impacts air quality and impacts our health, as we see more frequent cases of asthma and cardiovascular problems in the Latino community.” Carolina’s quote has been translated from the original Spanish.
- Public Health Policy Director Molly Rauch is quoted in an Earthjustice press release about the reintroduction of the Public Health Air Quality Act. Molly says: “Moms Clean Air Force applauds the reintroduction of [this bill], which would expand air pollution monitoring across the country, particularly in the frontline communities that need it the most. Moreover, it requires that the information gathered be leveraged to protect the health of families and communities. Investing in an equitable and expanded air monitoring system will provide life-saving information so that we can better protect our children from harmful air pollution. We look forward to working with Congress to pass this much-needed legislation”
- National Field Manager Liz Brandt and her daughter Valencia Bednar are in the feature photo for an E&E article about the West Virginia v. EPA Supreme Court decision.