By: Michelle Uberuaga, Montana Field Organizer, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: August 25, 2021
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0208
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Thank you so much for your time and attention today. I am grateful for your work. You have an incredibly important job and laudable mission: “to protect human health and the environment.” Thank you.
My name is Michelle Uberuaga. I am a mother of three and a member of Moms Clean Air Force. I live on Apsaalooke land in southwest Montana. I work full-time running a community-based conservation group here in Yellowstone’s northern gateway.
I am testifying today to support the EPA’s proposal today. This proposal is a step in the right direction to address the urgent climate emergency that we are living in right now. As many speakers have already stated, we are at a tipping point. Every decision you make to reduce pollution today, matters. I really want you to understand the urgency of this work to my family, and so many other Montana families. Our kids are watching, they are worried, we have spent the past two months in Montana under hazy and smoked-filled skies. They can’t play outside. They can’t fish because of heat related river closures. My kids are still pretty young, but they know that something is not right. Montana’s drought is killing farmers. Climate change is impacting every part of our lives—our economy and our way of life in Montana. Our kids are counting on you to take action to protect their future.
For these reasons, I urge the EPA to set the strongest possible federal clean car standards. We need to keep U.S. automakers on track to meet ambitious pollution reduction goals as soon as possible.
I am also testifying because my family, like many Montana families, is impacted from air pollution from cars and trucks.
Livingston is a small town in a rural county on the northern edge of Yellowstone National Park. You might imagine that we have pretty good air quality, but like every other place, we experience local pollution from vehicles. It’s inescapable.
In fact, pollution from vehicles can create serious air quality concerns even in Yellowstone National Park. Cars often get lined up back to back, sometimes causing mile-long traffic jams. The air pollution is visible as it sits in the air in remote river valleys.
In our little town we experience pollution from vehicles regularly. Livingston, like many towns in Montana, sits right off of Interstate 90. The freeway closes when the weather gets bad and heavy truck traffic is rerouted right through our downtown, right down main street, right past our elementary school. Sometimes traffic gets backed up for several miles. Semis, cars, trucks slowly inch through town, past schools, restaurants, and sidewalks. You can see the pollution in the air.
My kids are also personally impacted from pollution from vehicles idling at their schools. Like many places, parents idle their cars during pick up and drop off, which happens on the playground. It’s alarming to see our playground flanked on all sides by idling cars and air pollution.
We can and we must do better for our kids and for our communities.
An estimated 6 million children under 18 suffer from asthma. My son has three kids on his soccer team that have asthma. My husband is the coach, and he has to make judgment calls about whether it’s safe to practice or play games. Parents should not be making these decisions.
This summer, our local hardware store teamed up with our city government to give out free DIY air filters for homes this summer.
Many families, like mine, don’t have air conditioning. With extreme heat and smoke, we have very few options to protect our families.
We need your help. Local families and communities can work together to protect themselves from dangerous pollution, but we shouldn’t have to, and many especially vulnerable communities just don’t have the resources or time. We need your leadership to protect vulnerable children across our country from air pollution and climate change.
Strengthening car standards is a simple step, and we can and must continue to do more to protect vulnerable communities from air pollution and climate change. I want my kids to know that we did everything we could to protect their future.
Thank you again for your time and your consideration.