This post was written by Moms Clean Air Force interns Samantha Schmitz and Julie Silverman
In the midst of recent flooding, extreme heat, and wildfires nationwide, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a sobering report about the climate crisis. Dominique Browning, Co-Founder and Director of Moms Clean Air Force, responded to the report: “The news from climate scientists in this careful, thoughtful report is dire. We are not doing enough to cut climate pollution, and we are crossing dangerous thresholds. We must now learn to adapt—to live with—climate catastrophe, but it is not too late to do what it takes to avoid the worst catastrophes. Hope lives in taking action—to protect all we are blessed to have and to hold on this marvelous gorgeous Earth.”
In an interview with northjersey.com, National Field and Legislative Manager Trisha Dello Iacono (pictured above) also responded to the IPCC report: “It makes clear that one of the fastest ways to slow climate warming in the near term is by cutting human-caused methane emissions, which is a potent greenhouse gas.”
Passionate about future generations and children’s health, Trisha explains that “we are at a pivotal moment. Congress has the opportunity to take action, to put forward legislation that will address the climate crisis. And we’re falling incredibly short of meeting the mark on that.”
Moms Clean Air Force is working harder than ever to fight climate change. The Senate recently passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a bipartisan bill that is an important first step to addressing the climate crisis. But it doesn’t go far enough to protect our children and future generations. Join us in telling your Senators to keep going to solve the climate crisis.
More Funding Needed to Electrify our Nation’s School Buses
As the infrastructure package made its way through Congress, it became clear that there was likely to be cuts made to electric school bus funding. E&E News’ ClimateWire featured National Field Manager Trisha Dello Iacono to discuss why Moms want robust funding to transition our nation’s fleet of diesel school buses to all-electric. She notes that federal funding cuts will impact marginalized communities most: “Those schools that can afford to make the transition and cover the costs of not just the school bus, but the charging infrastructure that’s needed, are in the predominantly wealthier communities,” she says. Electrifying school buses is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the climate crisis, but when it comes to the health of children, moving away from diesel buses is critical. Pollution levels inside these buses are often five to 10 times higher than outside.
The same article featured Nevada State Organizer and EcoMadres program lead Cinthia Moore, who provides a personal perspective on the issue. She doesn’t let her son, who has breathing issues, ride the school bus on bad air quality days, and she worries about the high levels of pollution on diesel school buses.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill was eventually passed, with $2.5 billion of funding to replace diesel school buses with electric ones. Trisha Dello Iacono spoke to Bloomberg about the need for increased federal investment in electric school buses. “It’s a step in the right direction,” says Trisha, but “In terms of what is needed, this feels like a drop in the bucket.” Biden had originally sought $20 billion to fund the transition to electric school buses nationwide.
What Cleaner Cars Would Mean for Arizona’s Children
Arizona field organizer Columba Sainz writes in the Arizona Capitol Times about the extreme heat in her hometown of Phoenix: “Here in Phoenix, these months are increasingly spent indoors, sheltering from the heat. But it’s not just the triple-digit temperatures and blistering asphalt that are keeping us inside — it’s also the insidious way that extreme heat interacts with stagnant air to create and trap more ozone pollution. For my daughter, who suffers from wheezing episodes, this dangerous air quality could land her in the hospital.” Columba explains what she wants lawmakers to do, to respond to the climate emergency: “My colleagues and I at Moms Clean Air Force and EcoMadres want to see our legislators support an infrastructure plan–and other policies–that take bold action to combat the climate chaos we are seeing, while at the same time creating jobs by repairing our broken infrastructure and expanding the zero-emissions transportation solutions that are key to cleaning up fossil fuel pollution.”
Clean Energy’s Economic Benefits for West Virginia
West Virginia field organizer Lucia Valentine voiced the need for state legislators to embrace a bold and rapid transition to clean energy to the Charleston Gazette: “I’m hoping that our state legislators recognize the economic opportunity that a clean energy future holds so that we aren’t left behind as a state during this transition.” She and other organizers will “be working to hold our state regulators accountable.”
Biden’s Clean Car Goals Welcomed by Michigan Moms
Michigan Field Organizer Elizabeth Hauptman spoke to the Detroit Free Press about the Biden administration’s recently announced plan to ensure that 50% of all cars sold by 2030 are zero emissions vehicles. As a mother with a 10-year-old son who struggles with asthma, Elizabeth is passionate about reducing tailpipe emissions for children’s health. She notes that Biden’s new goal is “a good step in the right direction and will help motivate passage of stronger bills and stronger standards. Michigan is poised for this,” she says. “We’re known for … the Motor City. I can’t wait for us to be the Electric Motor City.”
Cleaning Up Pennsylvania’s Power Sector
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a program to limit power plant emissions that has been implemented in states across the Northeast as well as Virginia. Now Pennsylvania is considering joining the program. Environmental Health News caught up with Pennsylvania State Organizer Vanessa Lynch, who says, “I’ve been pushing for the state to join RGGI because it will have a significant positive impact on the air our kids breathe.” Vanessa sees air pollution first-hand and is frustrated for her two teenagers when poor air quality makes it unsafe for them to spend time outside. She notes that Pennsylvania has the fifth dirtiest power sector in the nation as well as the tenth highest rate of childhood asthma. By 2030, RGGI would create an estimated $6.3 billion in public health benefits by preventing 97-227 million tons of CO2 emissions between 2022 and 2030.
Investing in Environmental Justice
Our Senior Advisor Heather McTeer Toney shared her thoughts on Biden’s Justice40 initiative on NPR’s Living on Earthpodcast. The Justice40 initiative will ensure that at least 40% of all federal climate and infrastructure spending goes directly to disadvantaged communities. Heather supports Justice40 because it “has funding that is specifically targeted to reducing legacy pollution through things like Brownfields redevelopment or Superfund sites, but also things like reducing farmworkers exposure to pesticides, or reclaiming abandoned mines, and capping orphan wells, which is very important in terms of reducing overall carbon emissions in our country and benefiting our planet.”
Moms Across the Country Want Electric Vehicles
In South Charleston, West Virginia, Lucia Valentine, our West Virginia field organizer, spoke to the Charleston Gazette about electrifying our transportation system: “Millions of children still ride diesel-powered school buses, which exposes them to harmful diesel pollution and interferes with their health and ability to learn,” Lucia said. She urges “Senator Manchin and Senator Capito to support big, bold and crucial climate action that improves the lives of families and communities all across our beautiful state.”
Also in West Virginia, Moms Clean Air Force Field and Special Projects Manager Elizabeth Brandt hosted a press conference in Morgantown that was featured in the Charleston Gazette and WBOY. Elizabeth urged Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito to support the transition to electric vehicles and school buses. She says, “All the buses are idling outside and we know that that front door of the school has some dirty air and that bother[s] me, but it motivates me to do more [on] my part. I think sometimes we underestimate our ability to make an individual difference. And that is the greatest mistake we can make. If you are worried about something in your community, whether it’s air quality and climate, you know the quality of your schools, you are a leader. You have to embrace your ability to make the change.” The Morgantown event was also covered by WAJR and Editor 99.
In Delaware, Wilmington resident and Moms Clean Air Force Supermom Meredith Hurst was joined by U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) and New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer to push for stronger electric school buses and increased clean energy investments.
Delaware Public Media spoke to Meredith about the impacts that air pollution from diesel buses have had on her and her son who has asthma: “As a mother who has seen far too often the panic and fear in her child’s face as his chest tightens and he gasps to breathe, or the disappointment from being told he has to miss soccer because he’s being admitted to the ICU, I believe we have to do more to protect him and all children.” Meredith also spoke with the Delaware Business Times: “We’re grateful to elected officials like Senator Carper who believe that it is their job to act on climate. We now need everyone in Congress to do their part and pass a budget with bold support for electric vehicles and EV infrastructure.”
Following a successful electric school bus event in Nevada, our Las Vegas-based field organizer Cinthia Moore caught up with NBC News 3 Las Vegas. As a mother to a 4-year-old boy with breathing issues, air pollution is personal for her and her family personally. “Clark County was recently given an F-grade by the American Lung Association for our poor air quality and heavy air pollution in the valley,” she says. “Inside the school bus, the air pollution can be up to 10 times worse than the air outside.” Electric school buses would be drastically cleaner with zero emissions, protecting both air quality and children’s health. The event was also featured by KVVU FOX 5 Las Vegas.
CBSN Pittsburgh covered our press conference on clean transportation. Pennsylvania State Organizer Vanessa Lynch explains that she’s fighting so “that access to clean air is equitable,” she says, “[and so that] low income and communities of color have electric vehicles.” The press conference was also featured on KDKA-AM Radio, where Vanessa urges that electric vehicles must be coupled with the need for “electricity to be 100% clean.”
- The Associated Press highlighted Nevada field organizer Jennifer Cantley’s meeting with Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, environmental scientists, and medical researchers about the importance of addressing wildfire smoke.
- On NPR Atlanta’s WABE, Moms Clean Air Force Senior Advisor Heather McTeer Toney shared the need for federal investment in transitioning to a clean economy.
- The Huffington Post highlighted the plans of Moms Clean Air Force and other large organizations to push climate goals over the Congressional recess. Meetings and town halls with members of Congress and Moms Clean Air Force’s electric school bus events were mentioned as tactics to push for climate action.
- In a piece about climate anxiety, Thrive Global praised the work of Moms Clean Air Force for fighting against the disproportionate impacts of climate change on women.
- The Navajo Times featured Moms Clean Air Force’s Flagstaff, Arizona, clean transportation press conference where Mayor Paul Deasy and Adrian Herder, a representative of Tó Nizhóní Aní, were speakers.
- Georgia field organizer Almeta Cooper highlighted the importance of a clean energy economy and the opportunities for clean-energy jobs in Georgia as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg visited Atlanta.
- Common Dreams reported on a statement issued by Moms Clean Air Force and other partners in the Alliance for Electric School Buses, criticizing the bipartisan infrastructure bill’s clean energy shortcomings.
- The Saporta Report noted Moms Clean Air Force as an opponent with many other local groups of the controversial plan to build a police and fire training center at the Atlanta Prison Farm site. The property has vast environmental benefits and many are calling for it to remain a green space.
- In Virginia, Moms Clean Air Force project manager Julie Kimmel spoke to NBC news about the need for electric school buses in her state: “Diesel buses can be especially dangerous for children with asthma because the air inside them can be more polluted than the air outside,” said Julie.