Moms don’t back down when it comes to protecting their kids (Tweet this) – especially, when the air they breathe and the water they drink are at stake. That’s why, when Moms Clean Air Force put out the call that moms were needed in Washington, D.C. pronto, to urge senators to oppose the nomination of Scott Pruitt to head up the Environmental Protection Agency, I happily signed on, along with droves of other moms.
Pruitt is the current Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma, where he has built a political career around attacking the EPA, reports Vickie Patton, General Counsel for Environmental Defense Fund.
How bad is he? He has repeatedly sued the agency charged with protecting our air and water for striving to do exactly that. Specifically, he’s tried to weaken the regulations that reduce soot and smog pollution, toxic mercury, arsenic, and acid gases from power plants. He has challenged the research and case studies that show that mercury and other pollutants can make people sick. He’s fought cutting air pollution in our national parks. He opposed cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay – even though he lives 1,400 miles away from its banks.
Pruitt has urged states to resist the hallmark Clean Power Plan, which would significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions while accelerating our transition away from polluting fossil fuels into renewable energy.
Rather than cede our kids’ health to Pruitt, Moms Clean Air Force mobilized! It started by bringing 34 moms from 19 states to the nation’s capital for two days to meet with senators and their staff.
A dinner meeting the night before senate office visits bubbled with enthusiasm and energy, as kids tumbled about. Moms and grandmothers explained why they were motivated to leave their homes in the dead of winter, take a day off work, and trek all the way to Washington, D.C.
Stacy Lambright of Colorado was there because her family lives in a county dotted by over 200 oil and gas wells. Another wellhead could be built just 3,000 feet away from her kids’ school. Her daughter and son already suffer from nose bleeds due to air pollution. “What if there’s an explosion?” she asks? “How am I going to get to them and protect them?”
Lindsay Pace is the Tennessee field organizer for MCAF, and has been working for them for more than two years. She joined after her first child was born. Why? “Moms Clean Air Force appealed to me as a mom because it encompasses how I feel about the urgency of fighting against climate disruption. Its message is rooted in the love we have for our children.”
Crystal Hendrick developed asthma in graduate school in Milwaukee. When she moved out of the city, the asthma went away.
Jasmine Borden from Portland, Maine was in D.C. heading to the Hill for the first time. She said that until the recent elections, she took it for granted that people would do the right thing. “I see it as an opportunity to do something for my son,” she said.
Moms on the Hill
Energized and raring to go, I joined the team that visited with staff for the two senators from Michigan (I grew up in Michigan), Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow. Our group also included women from Ohio and Colorado and we talked with their senators’ staff, as well.
Some staffers welcomed us with open arms. “We need your stories. And we need your help in urging your Senators to oppose the Pruitt nomination.”
But not all visits were that enthusiastic. Our group had four kids in tow – two tweens, and two elementary school kids.
While the staffers were not going to call out moms in front of their kids, some were tight-lipped about Pruitt running the most important environmental agency in the country. They said they’d “let their Senator know we’d stopped by.”
That wasn’t quite good enough for us.
“We strongly urge your boss [the Senator] to oppose the Pruitt nomination,” we consistently admonished them. “Our health – and yours – depend on it.”
Moms Clean Air Force members met with 25 Senators.
Moms Join a Senate Press Conference
At a press conference on Day 2, Moms Clean Air Force joined Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee ranking member Tom Carper (D-Del.) to urge the entire Senate to oppose Pruitt’s nomination.
Trisha Sheehan, a Moms Clean Air Force member from Pennsylvania and the mother of two boys with a third due next month, joined the senators at the microphone.
“As moms, we ask that any EPA chief should put the health of American families and the safety of our communities first,” she said. She urged the Senate to “honor the great American tradition of protecting our right to breathe clean air and drink clean water.”
After an exhilarating two days of citizen advocacy, Moms Clean Air Force founder, Dominique Browning praised the moms,
“Thank you all for telling Washington: Listen to Your Moms!!!”