By: Mercedes McKinley, Nevada State Coordinator, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: February 22, 2023
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2015-0072
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Good afternoon. Thank you for your time and giving me the opportunity to testify today. My name is Mercedes McKinley. I am a state coordinator of Moms Clean Air Force. I live in Las Vegas, Nevada. I am the mother of a 2-year-old and also care for my 78-year-old mother. I am here to urge the EPA to set a more protective standard for particle pollution of NO MORE than 8 micrograms per cubic meter for the annual standard and NO MORE than 25 micrograms per cubic meter for the daily (24-hour) standard. I would like to emphasize that both the annual and daily soot standards matter, because both long-term and short-term exposure to particle pollution impact our health. Stronger standards are desperately needed to protect the health of families like mine.
Ever since my family and I arrived from El Salvador in 1987 to Las Vegas, we have lived in immigrant communities that each harbor different health hazards. Our most recent home was purchased in 1999, and my family has lived in the area ever since. Like many families in the neighborhood, we operate as a multigenerational home. Las Vegas was one of the fastest-growing cities in the US for a long time. As our population doubled and then tripled, so did the traffic, and the exhaust from the increase in burning of fossil fuels.
Our house is located close to highway US95/I515, which serves as one of the main corridors from Nevada to Arizona. This highway is used by locals and a large number of big rigs that move through the southwest. Our home air filters have to be replaced monthly instead of every 3 months. Soot and other particles build up, and if we don’t wipe it down, a black film forms on the grills of our air vents. We’ve had other families comment on this and how it doesn’t happen in their neighborhoods. Our zip code 89110 is home to a large Hispanic/Latino community that mostly serves the casino industry. My neighbors drive taxis, cook food, and tend to the casino floors. It is a low-income immigrant community whose infrastructure has been forgotten, and we feel abandoned by environmental regulations. I’ve watched the air around me get dirtier and dirtier, and I don’t see anything being done to stop it.
I am here today because I don’t want to be another statistic anymore. I don’t have to tell you that historically communities like mine have to fight for things such as clean air and water. It’s in the history books. I want my daughter to be able to grow up here without asthma or COPD like many other children in the neighborhood. Our children deserve better.
Another reason a strong standard is important is because it’s something we can control. Wildfires in California bring smoke and soot into our valley, it darkens our skies. We can’t regulate that, so let’s focus on what we can regulate.
Once again I urge the EPA to set a stronger standard for particle pollution of NO MORE than 8 micrograms per cubic meter for the annual standard and NO MORE than 25 micrograms per cubic meter for the daily (24-hour) standard. Thank you for your time.