At a public hearing in April, dozens of Moms told the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the proposed rule to strengthen pollution standards for trucks and heavy-duty vehicles doesn’t go far enough to protect our families from dangerous air pollution. Now our Moms Clear Air Force field organizers Jennifer Cantley and Columba Sainz have shared their personal reasons for supporting strong truck pollution protections in op-eds that ran in their local papers.
Jennifer (pictured above) is a COVID-19 long-hauler, and now lives with permanent lung damage, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and asthma. The American Lung Association gave her hometown of Carson City, Nevada, an “F” for air pollution, which exacerbates Jennifer’s health conditions. She writes in the Nevada Appeal: “My new normal is having to carry two inhalers.”
Heavy-duty vehicles and trucks are a major source of dangerous air and climate pollution in the US, and people who live near highways, ports, and other heavily trafficked areas are often exposed to the highest levels of this pollution. Jennifer is one of them: “Like 45 million people in the U.S., my family lives within 300 feet of a major roadway or transportation center.”
Before her family moved to Tempe, Columba Sainz was also one of those 45 million people. In an op-ed for the Arizona Mirror, Columba recalls how her daughters’ health changed after they moved to a home that was surrounded by truck pollution: “Within a few months, my daughters, who were one and two years old, started wheezing at night. Our doctor prescribed asthma medicine for my oldest daughter and inhalers for both. After talking to other moms, I connected the dots and realized that air pollution was to blame. Our home was also near two truck parking lots for municipal buses and the airport.”
Children are especially susceptible to the harms of air pollution because their lungs are still developing. And, as Columba writes, “The burden of air pollution is not shared equally. Black children have nearly two times the rate of asthma as white children. Latino children are 60 percent more at risk of having asthma attacks exacerbated by air pollution.”
The comment period for the rule closed on Monday, May 16, but Moms Clean Air Force will continue to share stories like Jennifer’s and Columba’s as EPA considers the rule. EPA can make the air safer to breathe, fight environmental injustice, and tackle the climate crisis by finalizing the strongest possible pollution standards for heavy-duty vehicles and trucks.
A CLEAN RIDE FOR KIDS
Moms National Field Manager Almeta Cooper sat down with Rose Scott from WABE, the Metro Atlanta area’s PBS and NPR affiliate, to talk about electric school buses. Diesel-powered buses produce dangerous air pollution that damages kids’ lungs, hearts, and brains. Almeta says: “Asthma is the leading chronic disease among children in this country and it is worsened by diesel fuel buses …it affects them where they live, and where they learn, and where they play.”
Electric school buses are a zero pollution alternative, and new funding through the Biden Administration will help school districts purchase them. Funds will be distributed through a rebate program that requires no up-front costs through a simple one-page application. Almeta wants school districts to know that EPA is working to ensure that applying for the rebate is “not going to be a complicated process…so that even school districts that have low resources will be able to access this money.”
DENVER’S “RISING STAR”
Voyage Denver interviewed Colorado field organizer Shaina Oliver about her work as an Indigenous rights and clean air advocate for their “Rising Stars” series. Shaina explains what brought her to this work: “As a tribal member of the Navajo Nation, advocacy for Indigenous rights has always been at the core of who I am. …My goal is to create a pathway for future Indigenous generations to thrive – a future they will want to continue fighting for.” Her lived experience has made her especially passionate about fighting for environmental justice: “My community lives between highways and busy streets, and increasingly we–Indigenous, Black, Latino, and low-income people–are being pushed further into heavily industrial parts of the city which provide the only options for affordable housing.”
She highlights that Indigenous communities are on the “frontlines of climate change,” which is why she is committed to sharing her story and speaking up for our future: “Representation of Indigenous people is very important for climate action. We can no longer be left out of the agendas and infrastructure discussions. This is my motivation every time I speak before the Colorado legislature and the EPA.”
TELEMUNDO FEATURES ECOMADRES
Telemundo interviewed Moms Clean Air Force’s EcoMadres team in a segment about how electrifying the nation’s school bus fleet will protect the health of our kids. This is especially important to the health of Latino children, who face a 60% higher risk of having asthma attacks exacerbated by air pollution, compared to white children. Volunteer Daniela Ochoa Gonzales says: “Every Latino mom living in this country with a child who’s suffering from asthma, or any other health condition, or simply has to send their kids in an old bus that makes them breathe all that pollution, wants to improve the future of her kids.”
EcoMadres Program Manager Carolina Peña says that one of the group’s main goals is to give Latino communities tools and “information on how to talk to their elected officials to propose and promote policies that will improve the quality of life in our communities.”
Quotes have been translated from the original Spanish.
- Colorado organizer Shaina Oliver is featured in an Environmental Defense Fund video about EPA’s move to object to Colorado’s permit renewal for the Suncor Refinery. Pollution from the refinery has exceeded permit limits more than 500 times in the last two years alone.
- The West Virginia Gazette reports on a letter sent by the West Virginia chapter of Moms Clean Air Force and dozens of partner organizations that urges President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader Schumer to support initiatives facilitating the transition from coal to clean energy.
- The 74 ran an article by The 19th about how Moms are leading the transition to an electric school bus future, featuring quotes from our Public Health Policy Director Molly Rauch.
- KSJD Radio read segments of a Public News Service article on-air about how plugging methane leaks would improve air quality in Colorado. Colorado organizer Laurie Anderson contributed, saying: “Here in Colorado we’re seeing increased drought and heat resulting in increased wildfires that threaten our communities, even in the middle of winter. Reining in methane pollution is critical for keeping our planet habitable for our children and grandchildren.”
- A Fort Worth Report article about air quality in North Texas includes an image of Moms Clean Air Force members testifying at an EPA hearing.
- Energy Foundation included Moms Clean Air Force alongside Mothers Out Front, Mountain Mamas, Mothers and Others for Clean Air, and Science Moms in a Mother’s Day list of “Five Groups Where Mom is ‘Captain Planet.’”