By: Cinthia Moore, Nevada Field Organizer, Moms Clean Air Force, and EcoMadres Lead
Date: June 17, 2021
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0295
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Good afternoon. My name is Cinthia Moore, the national lead for EcoMadres, a Latino outreach program and a project of Moms Clean Air Force. I live in Las Vegas, Nevada, a city known for being the entertainment capital of the world. However, what many people do not know is that Las Vegas is the fastest-warming city in the nation, which is why today I am calling to urge this administration to cut oil and gas methane pollution 65% by 2025 (from 2012 levels) to protect children’s health and their future.
Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas that warms the planet 86 times more than carbon pollution over 20 years. Warmer temperatures caused by climate change will make air pollution worse, putting the health of Nevada's children at risk. The American Lung Association's 2021 State of the Air report ranked Las Vegas #12 in the country for ground-level ozone pollution, and Clark County, where I live, ranked #17 in the country for most polluted places to live.
Climate change is already impacting our families and communities in Nevada. We’re seeing firsthand the effects of climate instability on our most vulnerable populations—children, older adults, pregnant women, those whose health is compromised, communities of color, and low-income communities. This week, Las Vegas was placed under an extreme heat warning. We are experiencing record high temperatures, just yesterday we broke a record, and our official temperature was 116 degrees. I am lucky enough that I am able to afford my electric bill and do not have to make a choice between having to pay for food, rent, or the electric bill, which allows me to keep the AC running all day. There are many people in Las Vegas who are not in the same position as I am, and have to make that tough choice for their families. I have a neighbor whose air conditioner recently stopped working. She is unable to pay the $5,000 required to replace her old unit. In Las Vegas, during the summertime, having an air conditioner is a MUST, and no families should have to go without one. This is the time of the year when we hear in the news several stories of people passing away from heat strokes due to the extreme heat. The most vulnerable are children and seniors.
My four-year-old son is not able to enjoy his childhood, the same way that I was able to do when I was growing up in Las Vegas due to his respiratory issues, which have been exacerbated by bad air pollution. There are several reasons for that. One, we did not experience extreme heat like we do today during the summer months. Another reason is because we are in the middle of ozone season, which runs from April until September. During these months our air quality is always at moderate or unhealthy levels for sensitive groups.
Due to the extreme heat that we are experiencing, and the mega drought, there has been an increase in wildfires. In just one week, we had two back-to-back wildfires surrounding the Las Vegas valley. The smoke from the wildfires made it nearly impossible to see the mountains that surround our valley, or even the Strip. However, this week, we are not just suffering from the effects of smoke from surrounding wildfires in our city, but also, there is smoke coming into our city from a wildfire in Arizona. Children here are gasping for a breath of fresh air.
Protecting public health means keeping everyone's air clean and safe to breathe, and cutting methane pollution from the oil and gas industry is essential to this effort. Improving our air quality is important for vulnerable groups like older Nevadans and for children, whose lungs are still developing, and for Latino families who are more likely to be exposed to air pollution. Latino children are 60% more at risk of having asthma attacks exacerbated by air pollution, and 40% more likely to die from an asthma attack. Efforts to improve our air quality are particularly important to me, as a mother of a four-year-old who has respiratory issues, and the parents of over 40,000 children who have asthma in Clark County.
Making environmental justice and frontline communities, like my own, a priority is imperative as we have historically shouldered an outsize burden from the impacts of air pollution and the climate crisis. Improving our air quality is an environmental justice issue. Everyone has a right to breathe clean air. I urge you to please cut oil and gas methane pollution 65% by 2025 to protect children’s health and their futures.
Thank you for your time.