By: Almeta E. Cooper, National Manager for Health Equity, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: November 30, 2022
About: Prioritizing community engagement and accelerating federal air quality rules
To: White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council
Good afternoon. My name is Almeta E. Cooper. I am the National Manager for Health Equity for Moms Clean Air Force, which consists of more than 1 million moms, dads, caregivers, and supporters nationally who fight to protect clean air and children’s health.
At Moms Clean Air Force, we are committed to identifying commonsense solutions to the environmental injustices and health inequities adversely affecting Black, brown, and low-wealth communities in our nation. These communities are overburdened by pollution and historic underinvestment.
Moms Clean Air Force brings together young people, community organizers, healthcare providers, and local and national policy makers who understand the importance of identifying solutions that address the connection between climate, environmental justice, and health inequities. We encourage them to and share their experiences in addressing how parents and caregivers can engage with policymakers and lawmakers to demand stronger protections for children and from climate and air pollution.
As a mom and member of my community, I care deeply about environmental justice and agree with Dr. Robert Bullard that “environmental justice embraces the principle that all people and communities have a right to equal protection and equal enforcement of environmental laws and regulations.”
Equal protection and equal enforcement requires that Black, brown, and low-wealth communities that are disproportionately affected by environmental harms must be included in determining the solutions for reversing environmental harms in their communities. Also, there must be timely action to implement such solutions.
On behalf of Moms Clean Air Force, I urge the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council to accelerate the review, proposal, and finalization of the important air quality rules with significant environmental justice implications:
- Restore the Appropriate and Necessary Finding of the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards (MATS), which have been pending at the Office of Management and Budget for at least eight months.
- Finalize the Heavy Duty NOx rule for trucks by the end of this calendar year, which is pending at the Office of Management and Budget. This rule is critical to addressing the disproportionate exposure to near-road pollution and freight corridors affecting adjacent Black, brown, and low-wealth communities.
- Establish stronger National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ﬁne particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution of no higher than 8 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) for the annual standard and no higher than 25 μg/m3 for the 24-hour standard. Setting tighter limits on harmful PM 2.5 pollution–in line with the levels recommended by the Clean Air Scientiﬁc Advisory Committee (CASAC) earlier this year–will protect millions of Americans, including vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, and people with asthma and other respiratory and heart conditions.
In addition, I urge the White House Environmental Justice Council to continue to seek, include, and meaningfully respond to the voices of grassroots, community-based groups and organizations in identifying solutions and responses to environmental injustices that are well documented.
Thank you to the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and its staff for inviting public comment and permitting digital and remote testimony to allow for increased participation in these public hearings.