By: Carolina Peña, EcoMadres Program Manager, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: April 20, 2022
About: Federal Implementation Plan Addressing Regional Ozone Transport for the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard, Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0668
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Good morning. My name is Carolina Peña. I am Bolivian and have lived in the United States since 2001. I am the EcoMadres manager, a program of Moms Clean Air Force, which you have heard from my colleagues, we represent a community of 1 million parents and caregivers acting together on equitable solutions to protect the health of Latino families from air pollution.
The core of our program focuses on building public and political will for clean air and a safe climate by supporting sound investments in clean and renewable energy and the modern infrastructure that supports it.
As a Latina, and as the EcoMadres manager, I am very concerned that Latinos are more likely to be negatively affected by air pollution because of where we live and work. As the annual State of the Air report by the American Lung Foundation published today, more than 137 million people are currently living in areas with unhealthy levels of particle pollution or ozone. But some groups of people are especially vulnerable to illness and death from their exposure. Over 14 million people of color live in counties that received failing grades on all three measures, including nearly 10 million Latinos.
For many, the situation is further exacerbated by lack of health insurance and language barriers. Often, many members of our community do not know or do not make the connection due to the lack of information that is not only accessible in our language, easy to understand, reliable and science-based.
The NOx from power plant smokestacks, and other industrial sources is linked to breathing problems, stunted lung growth, and babies who are born with low birth weight, among many other serious health effects. Air pollution is keeping children with asthma home from school, as the incidence of asthma in Latino families reaches epidemic proportions.
Latinos have always been concerned about the environment, as a moral and personal issue. Besides the fact that we enjoy being outdoors, in the parks, in the rivers, we are always concerned about improving the quality of life and health of our families.
We urgently need to reduce ozone-forming pollution for fossil fuel-fired power plants and ensure that the 26 states identified in the proposal do not “significantly contribute” to problems attaining and maintaining the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
I applaud EPA for not only requiring emissions reductions from power plants in upwind states, but also from other industrial sources aside from power plants. I urge EPA to expand the covered sources further to better protect public health.
I live in Virginia, which is on the list of states with industrial polluters that would have to clean up their NOx pollution under this proposal. I strongly support the new cleanup requirements in the NOx proposal. Not only will we stop contributing to poor air quality in other states, but we’ll also clean up these sources of pollution for people in my state who live nearby.
NOx is a powerful air pollutant on its own, as well as being a precursor to ground-level ozone. I urge EPA to strengthen and finalize this proposal to control emissions from the sources that put public health at risk from NOx and ozone pollution.
This is a public health necessity to better protect children, people with asthma, older adults, and other vulnerable groups from the health harms of air pollution. That is why my colleagues and I, on behalf of the communities we serve, are advocating for more health-protective pollution controls across the country to protect people from preventable premature deaths, asthma attacks, and respiratory illness.
The pandemic has made it crystal clear that communities of color bear the burdens of the 21st century. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.