In the waning days of the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is frantically pushing through deregulatory rules before its time is up. This week, EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler announced a final rule for particle pollution, or soot. Wheeler refused to strengthen national standards for this deadly pollutant, which is linked to tens of thousands of deaths each year, despite the science showing serious health harms – including increased risk of COVID death – at levels below the current standards. Wheeler also announced this week a final rule distorting how cost benefit analyses are conducted for air pollution rules, which will underestimate real-world health benefits of pollution controls, making clean air standards appear more costly than they are.
Moms Clean Air Force public health policy director Molly Rauch responded to Wheeler’s latest attack on clean air:
“No fun-house mirror of a rule can change the fact that our kids, our families, and our communities deserve the profound health benefits of breathing clean air — and an EPA willing to undertake a full accounting of those benefits.”
TRUMP’S EPA IS FAILING OUR HEALTH, AGAIN
Trump’s eleventh-hour attacks on our clean air and public health were naturally met with fierce criticism by our senior leaders, who didn’t mince words in lambasting the Trump Administration’s decision to prioritize polluter’s profits over our health. Speaking to the Washington Post, Moms Clean Air Force co-founder and the head Dominique Browning discussed Wheeler’s refusal to strengthen standards for particle pollution: “This flies in the face of good science and good public health. It is outrageous. It builds in years more of assaults on the human body, especially in places where people are breathing the worst of it. It just basically sends a message of not caring about people.”
Long-term exposure to fine particles is deadly. Our related media statement “Trump’s EPA Ignores Science on Deadly Particle Pollution, Finalizes Do-Nothing, Too-Weak Standards” calls this decision the “[T]he last gasp of a polluter-friendly, health-crushing EPA that is willfully wiping its hands of its legal and moral obligation to protect public health.”
MAINSTREAMING ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
Speaking to The Nevada Independent about Nevada’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, our Nevada field organizer Cinthia Zermeño Moore shared how integral environmental justice must be to the state’s overall strategy: “‘Everything [the state does] around climate change — or even when we talk about affordable housing and transportation in general — should be looked at from an environmental justice lens,’ said Cinthia Moore, a Las Vegas-based organizer with EcoMadres, which represents Latino parents and advocates for clean air. ‘And that should be the driver of these policies.’”
CUTTING CARBON IN PENNSYLVANIA
This week Patrice Tomcik, our project manager of state campaigns, urged her state of Pennsylvania — the third-highest emitter of greenhouse gases in the country — to do more to reduce carbon pollution. Patrice spoke at a public hearing in favor of the state joining Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), an effort among several Mid-Atlantic and New England states to cap and reduce power sector emissions that contribute to climate change, and her testimony was captured in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article: “Pennsylvania has an outsized responsibility to reduce climate change pollution,” she said. “We need to address the climate crisis and improve public health now.”
Patrice also spoke to Keystone State News Connection, making the point that joining RGGI would cut emissions of other pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, soot, and heavy metals: “There would be a reduction in premature deaths from respiratory illnesses, fewer hospital visits, preterm births, childhood autism and asthma attacks.” You can hear the full radio story here.
OHIO MOM DEMANDS ACCOUNTABILITY
Moms Clean Air Force in Ohio has been fighting the bribery-plagued Ohio House Bill 6 for years. The continuing scandal prompted our member Michele Timmons to give voice to the need for accountability. In a letter to the Columbus Dispatch editor, Michele, a central Ohio small business owner, shares why her plea to Ohio legislators to choose good jobs and clean air over corruption and pollution is personal: “I grew up in the 70s living in one of the nation’s most polluted communities (Steubenville) and my 18-year-old son has been suffering from asthma since he was 6 months old. For John and more than 200,000 other Ohio young people and children who struggle with asthma every day, we desperately need state policies that encourage investment in clean energy and energy efficiency, reducing harmful emissions that can worsen respiratory illnesses.”
ON THE ROAD IN NEW YORK
New York City’s “congestion pricing” has stalled with the Federal Highway Administration, causing many advocates to suspect political interference from the Trump Administration. To understand the significance of living in the first state to approve congestion pricing, Inside Climate News spoke to our member Natalie Cronin, a resident of Manhattan’s Upper East Side: “We need to be leaders on climate action,” Natalie said. “Congestion pricing is a good start.”
IN OTHER NEWS
- Heather McTeer Toney, our senior director, joined The Climate Podcast show to discuss raising the next generation of climate activists in a way that is “mom-partisan.” Heather also discusses her experiences championing the rights of people in the American south to clean air and clean water. Listen to the conversation here.
- In a column for the Tahoe, California, paper Sierra Sun, guest contributor Matt Tucker writes about the post-election climate movement and what we can each do to make a difference. Among the many calls to action is for readers to join organizations doing important climate work — Moms Clean Air Force among them: “If you’re short on time, consider donating to one of these organizations. If you’re shorter on money than time, consider volunteering with one of them. Either way, we all need to take up the mantle of climate activist if we’re going to have any hope of stemming the tide.” We couldn’t agree more!