Moms Clean Air Force’s Almeta Cooper (above) joined NBC News correspondent Blayne Alexander for a ride on an electric school bus and a conversation about how ditching diesel-fueled buses will protect our children’s health.
Exposure to diesel pollution can trigger asthma attacks, interfere with brain development, and cause cancer, and our kids are exposed to this dangerous air pollution every time they ride on a diesel-powered school bus. Almeta tells Blayne: “We’re talking about 25 million children riding them twice a day. It’s idling, it’s standing, it’s waiting, and those tailpipe fumes, which are dangerous and harmful to breathe, are going into the air. That’s not good for any child.” Electric school buses do not produce tailpipe pollution. Watch the full special on TODAY.com. (The electric school bus segment starts at about 7 minutes.)
Almeta also appeared on the The Weather Channel’s live weekday show Pattrn to talk about how pollution from diesel-powered buses harms our kids’ health: “Dirty diesel fuel emission buses are polluting the air, triggering asthma. Asthma is the leading chronic disease of children in this country.” She encourages parents to take action by sharing their stories and concerns with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): “What we do at Moms Clean Air Force is we encourage people to share their personal stories of how pollution is affecting them, how emissions from heavy trucks and buses affect asthma and their children. This helps give the EPA an idea that this is real and how this is affecting real people.”
ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUSES AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
Almeta Cooper shares her electric school bus expertise in an interview with Word in Black and discusses how Black children are disproportionately impacted by tailpipe pollution. Almeta says: “African American children often live in neighborhoods close to highways, and this pollution and dirty air exacerbates the impact of pollution for them.”
Billions in funding for electric school buses has been allocated through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and Almeta says that there are a few steps that parents can take to help bring the funding to their school district: “Read up on electric school buses, learn about school transportation in your district, and reach out to your school district leaders to alert them to this upcoming opportunity.” This interview also ran in the Sacramento Observer.
Although the infrastructure funding for electric school buses is a step in the right direction, Moms’ Public Health Policy Director Molly Rauch worries it’s far less than needed to fully transition the nation’s school bus fleet to 100% electric. Also, distributing the funds through rebates may lead to inequities in access. Molly tells Grist: “There are a lot of districts that just aren’t able to put this money down upfront and then apply for rebates.” Salon also ran this article.
“TEXT ME WHEN THE AIR IS UNSAFE”
In an op-ed for the Houston Chronicle, Texas organizer Erandi Treviño describes the hazardous levels of pollution that she lives with in Houston, Texas, where wildfire smoke blows in from the west and industrial pollution makes people sick. The fact that people are often unaware that the air is so dangerous compounds this pollution problem. Erandi says: “It’s something that happens a lot in our region. Some kind of disaster threatens the health and safety of people who don’t have access to the information they need to take action.”
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) often turns off air quality monitors during extreme weather events, which is when families need this data the most. Erandi says TCEQ needs to do more to help families on the front lines of air pollution: “Families need accurate information, in their language, to make timely decisions. The agency responsible for the most significant gap [in air quality information] also has the power to close it for our communities.”
After penning this op-ed, Erandi stood alongside Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and called on President Biden and EPA to enact protections that would reduce pollution from power plants in Texas. This includes the W.A. Parish Generating Station, which has committed 51 violations of the Clean Air Act in the last five years.
PROTECTING OUR KIDS’ FUTURE
Good Morning America interviewed Pennsylvania organizer Brooke Petry about how being a mom led her to become an activist for clean air and a livable climate. Brooke’s daughter Eleanor has asthma, which means that Brooke has to constantly assess whether or not the air is safe for Eleanor to breathe. Unfortunately, the air around her home in Philadelphia is often highly polluted. Brooke remembers: “I would think to myself, should I send her to camp? Can she even play outside today?” Having to make these decisions makes parenting even more complicated, Brooke says, “and there are so many parents who are facing these decisions and challenges.”
A MESSAGE FROM OUR MOTHER
Michelle Uberuaga, our Montana organizer, and local partners submitted an op-ed on behalf of the Earth. The Earth Day message from Mother Earth that ran in the Missoula Current, Explore Big Sky, Billings Gazette, and Montana Standard outlines how our home planet has changed over time and how humans are driving the change that is happening now: “This is a path to catastrophe if the current trajectory of carbon emissions is not altered.” Mother Earth reminds readers that climate change will make our home unlivable if climate pollution continues: “I will not be destroyed, but will simply change and evolve as I have for billions of years. People speak of ‘destroying the earth’, but what your species is doing will render it impossible for current life to continue. Humans will bear this burden.”
CLEAN AIR IS FOR EVERYONE
Nevada-based organizer Jennifer Cantley talked to Nevada Public Radio about how marginalized communities are disproportionately affected by air pollution. Jennifer knows firsthand how harmful it can be to breathe polluted air. She never had problems with her breathing growing up but developed recurring sinus infections, pneumonia, and allergic asthma as an adult. Her doctor attributed these symptoms to climate change-fueled droughts and wildfires and exposure to pollution from trucks and mining activities.
For the sake of her health, and that of her children, Jennifer is calling on EPA to issue strong pollution protections: “We need more guidelines, and we need strict rules to these companies to make sure that we’re being protected, for mothers like myself and children and everyone in our communities are safe.”
FIGHTING FOR THE FUTURE OF ARIZONA
Moms Clean Air Force’s Arizona organizer Hazel Chandler spoke to the Phoenix New Times at a “Fight for Our Future” climate rally on the Arizona Capitol Lawn, where activists gathered and “pleaded” with Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema to pass bold climate legislation.
Climate change threatens everyone on the planet, but Hazel points out that “Arizona is ‘ground zero’ for the climate crisis.” Arizona has reached its driest point in more than 1,000 years and almost 500 people in Arizona died of heat-related illness in 2020. Hazel says: “If we don’t make drastic changes within the next eight years, there’s real doubt about how livable Arizona is going to be.”
SPEAKING UP FOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
La Opinion featured Moms’ Florida organizer Yaritza Perez in a list of Latinos who are living with the consequences of climate change. Yaritza lives in Florida, where sea levels are rising rapidly. She says: “It’s about our homes, neighborhoods, businesses, a lifetime’s work, but also what we buy in the supermarket, in the pharmacies. People don’t think about how it’s affecting everything from the supply chain to national security.” Quote has been translated from the original Spanish.
Yaritza also talked to HipLATINA about how communities of color live with the highest levels of air pollution: “People of color are nearly four times more likely to live in a county with poor air quality compared to white people. Yaritza says that members of the Latino community often do not know how harmful air pollution is to their health because of lack of health insurance and access to information in their language: “That’s why it’s so important to me to educate our members, the public and our lawmakers about the health harms of air pollution and the polluting sources in our communities. As Latinos, there is a real and urgent need for us to speak up about the disproportionate burden we face.”
MOVING AWAY FROM METHANE
A series of articles in the Public News Service about methane production include quotes from our organizers in Ohio, Colorado, and Texas.
In response to new research finding that low-producing oil and gas wells release large quantities of methane, Tracy Sabetta, our Ohio organizer, says: “With Ohio having as many oil and gas producing wells as we do, it is a pollutant that we just can’t ignore. In fact, our state has the second-highest number of individuals who live within a half-mile of an oil and natural gas producing facility.”
A new report also showed that plugging methane leaks would improve air quality in Colorado. Colorado organizer Laurie Anderson points out that since methane is a potent climate-warming gas, reducing methane leaks would also help us tackle the climate crisis: “Here in Colorado we’re seeing increased drought and heat resulting in increased wildfires that threaten our communities, even in the middle of winter. Reigning [sic] in methane pollution is critical for keeping our planet habitable for our children and grandchildren.”
Our Texas-based organizer, Erandi Treviño, tells Public News Service that EPA should do more to address low-producing wells, which are harming resident’s health and fueling the climate crisis: “A lot of our communities, especially communities of color—communities that are low income—face a disproportionate high level of asthma, of all types of different health problems that are made worse or caused by pollution.”
In good news, New Mexico recently passed a comprehensive rule to cut methane. In response to the announcement, Moms Clean Air Force’s Program Manager Celerah Hewes says: “Cutting methane pollution is one of the best levers we have to reduce air pollution and fight climate change. With nearly 9,000 children under the age of 5 and over 78 percent of young kids living within a mile of an active oil or gas well in San Juan County alone, adopting strong rules that protect frontline communities is a breath of fresh air to parents around New Mexico.”
- Moms Clean Air Force’s Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia chapters joined with dozens of partners to send a letter to President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Schumer, urging them to include climate action spending in the reconciliation package that would help areas where the coal industry is declining make the transition to a clean energy economy. Read more about the letter in Before It’s News, Appalachian Voices, and PA Environment Digest Blog.
- Vanessa Lynch’s interview with Yes!, which was featured in the last edition of Moms Make News, ran in several different outlets, including Resilience, Reporter Wings, Biz News Post, and Honest Columnist.