This was written by Almeta Cooper:
My colleague Liz and I know better than to overschedule our families; we usually go out of our way to limit plans. But this week called for something different. It called for overscheduling in the name of urgent climate action. Moms Clean Air Force members split a day this week between two high level events: one to push Congress to make bold climate investments, the other to advocate for stronger health protections at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
As a multi-tasking mom of five, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi knows something about prioritizing what is most urgent. On Tuesday, our moms joined her and other Members of Congress for a press conference on the Build Back Better for Climate agenda. Liz’s children had an unexpected opportunity to present Speaker Pelosi with handmade drawings and a sign that they made urging Congress to act on climate before hightailing across town to the EPA to speak up about the need for cleaner cars.
Speaker Pelosi shared with the audience that she had just met two children from Moms Clean Air Force, Valencia and Natalia. These children, as she said, understand the need for us to address the climate crisis better than many adults. Recognizing that these sisters had a competing climate engagement across town, the Speaker said: “They’re busy though. They have another engagement so they couldn’t come up here.” Yet, “They’re spreading the word. And, as I said to them, and I say to our guests who are gathered here: the outside mobilization on all of this is what brought us to this place where we can pass significant legislation to help America meet its emissions goals and to also help us help other countries meet theirs.”
I traveled from my home state of Georgia to be part of this day of back-to-back climate activism. This marked my first trip into the Capitol building since the pandemic. I would have relished lingering longer in its hallowed halls, but our crew was on a mission. We packed up our signs and headed to the EPA headquarters where, thanks to the amazing work of Moms Clean Air Force members and other environmental advocates, we celebrated the submission of more than 200,000 comments in support of stronger clean car standards!
Our group of volunteers, joined by eight aspiring activists from our Kids Clean Air Force, had the honor of ceremonially presenting EPA Administrator Michael Regan with our members’ comments at a press conference. I was honored to present a red wagon (symbolically) full of these comments demanding stronger clean car standards that will protect our children’s health. Speakers such as Carol Browner, former EPA Administrator; Reverend Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, Reverend Susan Hendershot of Interfaith Power and Light, Manish Bapna of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Ramón Cruz of the Sierra Club spoke powerfully on the need to address pollution from cars.
To echo Reverend Yearwood, the climate crisis is a public health and a civil rights issue, this century’s equivalent of a “lunchcounter” moment. Those words resonated deeply with me, as communities of color are hurt first and worst by the climate crisis. It’s high time for climate justice, and I invite everyone to join me in urging Congress to fight for an infrastructure package that prioritizes climate action. With your calls and social media messaging, members of Congress will know that it’s #TimeToAct on big, bold climate investments in the #BuildBackBetterAct. We need Congress to #ACTNow on investments that deliver the jobs, justice, and clean air that our families need.