RIGHT TO BREATHE: 50 STATES UNITED

Alexandra Allred

I cannot express how little concern is given to the health and welfare of children or any residents of Midlothian.

Profession: Writer/Fitness Instructor
Group Affiliation: Downwinders at Risk

Clean Air Ambassador:

Alexandra Allred

Midlothian, Texas

(May 27, 2011 Update: The White House blog published a piece from Alexandra on her family's experience in Midlothian, TX and the meeting between her son, Tommy, and Barack Obama when he was a senator.)

When my family moved to Midlothian, Texas (a.k.a. the cement capital of Texas), we knew very little about the cement plants other than what we were told: "They're in compliance!" and "It's just steam coming out." We were more excited about the fact that we could actually afford land, own horses and goats, that we had an incredibly cool creek in the back filled with snapping turtles, crawfish, snakes, owls, coyotes, a bobcat and more.

But shortly after moving to Midlothian, my then two-year-old son, Tommy, became sick. Pneumonia, double pneumonia, bronchitis, fever, unexplained coughing and shortness of breath. We couldn't figure out what was going on because the rest of us—older, with stronger lung capacity—were fine. Only after a doctor at Children's Hospital in Dallas perused Tommy's medical file did he say, "Oh ... you live in Midlothian."

This was the beginning.

As I began to research, talk to my neighbors, teachers, school nurses and parents, I discovered that there was indeed a problem. School nurses talked to me about their "asthma baskets" and how the number of children with inhalers was growing. Later, my son's school would be named in a USA Today report as being in the upper 1 percent of the most toxic schools in the nation—the same school I butted heads with cement plant executives about being under the toxic plumes while children were at recess.

By age 5, Tommy risked being held back because of the number of days he missed due to severe asthma and upper respiratory problems. He was rushed to Emergency and put under doctor's care six times in two months! It was a horrible and terrifying time … made worse only by the fact that local government/city officials and cement industry did everything they could to keep this dirty little problem a dirty little secret.

In 2006 when it was discovered that a cement quarry was planned 500 feet from an elementary school playground, the response from AshGrove Cement (a company that is suing the city of Dallas and surrounding cities for supporting "green" cement) was, "We were here first." I cannot express how little concern is given to the health and welfare of children or any residents of Midlothian.

Image excerpt from How I met the President, a short story by Tommy Allred
Read a storybook about Tommy's asthma and his meeting with Sen. Barack Obama,
written by Tommy and illustrated by his sister, Kerri Leigh Allred.

In 2006, my son Tommy—who has asthma—met then Sen. Obama, and they had an impromptu discussion about asthma. (Editor's Note: Check out a story about this meeting with Barack Obama, written by Alex and Tommy and illustrated by Tommy's sister Kerri.) Sen. Obama told Tommy about his own daughter's asthma. We left that meeting on Cloud 9 believing this would be a man who would do something about our air pollution problem. I want President Obama to recall his words to my son, to remember the frustrations the Senator felt about his own daughter's asthma, to feel the certain pride and definite commitment he made to this nation and DEMAND cleaner air.

I ask that members of Congress and the EPA listen to us and make decisions based upon principle. A man or woman who truly loves his/her nation is ready to put service above self.
 

All Messages: Supporting Our Clean Air Ambassadors.

Drugs will keep comming as long as our people remain addicted and hopeless.
Pollution is an entirely different matter that affects addicts and non-addicts alike. The destruction of our water resources and the air we breathe is another ball game that must be undertaken in parallel to detoxifying America. It can be stopped and must be stopped. The first step is to fire the political trash in Austin and Washington and send responsible people to represent US and not the military-industrial complex Eissenhower warned us about. The bastards have been in power long enough and trashed this country economically, destroyed our economy, endangered our health and made the poor poorer and the rich richer. So it is the scum in Austin and Washington stupid.

The corp gop(libral media)is screwing America,Big Time,anything for a profit.

Texans have been and are continuing to be the recipients of big polluters pollution. The only way this will change is for the population to protest the whole sale pollution of the air, food, and water of this state via little to no regulation. There is no regulation of natural gas fracturing and its accompanying, literally secret toxic chemicals released into the ground water and eventually into the main drinking and irrigating aquifers. In any other culture this would qualify as suicide. The Exxon Mobil TV adds say that "fracking" is "transparent" and "safe". Exxon Mobil's TV add content (representations) couldn't be farther from the facts. Governor Perry is "open for business." Governor Perry is not open to you wanting clean air via regulations for cement manufacturing plants. There is no money for Perry. There would be money for Perry through "Green" solutions but for the governor's close financial relationships with the big polluters rendering the moniker: "We want less government (regulation)."

Protecting our clean air, water, and land from pollution is part and parcel of protecting the safety of We, the People, and our nation's financial viability.

Keep our air breathable.

Thank you for your work.

Clean air is as good as a luxury, but as necessary as...well, nothing except for clean water. Its our right to not have our health harmed just for breathing!

And one more comment. The state of Texas has not been in Clean Air compliance for years and especially under the reign of Rick Perry. He has no concern about the health issues in his state so stop re-electing him!!!

Texas and the nation is now under siege. Without any regard for the general public's health and especially those with existing health conditions, our now Republican dominated government is attempting to eliminate the EPA and the majority of health and environmental regulation. Mothers definitely need to be an advocate for their children as they cannot speak for or defend themselves. Moms, this is all up to you. If you want to see your sick child, or other family member with lung disease suffer any more than they already are then just sit back and accept all of this insanity in government. If you think that this current government is doing what is best for the public you are grossly mistaken and mislead. Join all of the online environmental causes and let your voice be heard. Sign petitions. Call your representatives and senators and let your voice be heard that you will not tolerate their irresponsible actions and endanger your loved ones health any further.

Alexandra, Good Story, as I had astma as a child but my Dad who was a M.D. could treat it. I was only allergic to common occurring natural pollens like corn, ragweed, golden rod, etc. However, what you speak of is man made allergens. These can be controlled if the American People will pressure Congress not to defund EPA and allow EPA to do its task. When it comes to Human Health, there is no negotiating with companies, members of Congress who are indebted to their contributors, or any one else. EPA should do its job, warning the company of the violation and if the violation is not corrected, shut them down. It is time for our elected officials to stop the practice of doing their legislative jobs inside some lobbyist's pocket. Thanks for all you do!

Keep voting these pigs into office and forfeit your right to complain or send them to pasture to the lobbying jobs they cushioned for just such an occasion. The cycle never breaks unless you recall this trash (all three of them together with the cold hypocrite rock we have for governor and his ilk). Our health IS NOT their priority.

Thank god for what you are doing, Alexandra. I hope that your work, and all of our work, is not in vain. However, I think it is important to identify that the Republican deregulation of big business/corporations is what is responsible for this - when maximizing profits is considered more important than human welfare, this is what we end up with. Until we can hold all corporations accountable for their actions, this blatant disregard for the environment and human safety is not going to stop.

The scum that represent us in Washington will do their party's bidding regarless of the illness and death spread by their gospel of enrichment at all costs. WE DO NOT EXIST FOR THESE ARSHOLES!! So, if all of you have

I live near a coal burner and there are gas wells on my little dead end rural road. I have never been so sick in my life. Please do the right thing. I don't think the founding Fathers would have approved of the poisoning of Americans.

You go girl! It's great to have someone standing up for clean air while our governor and TNRCC are siding with the corporate polluters.

My hypocritical congressman claims to be pro-life and yet he votes with big oil and other polluters. Please remind those in congress that pollution can kill wanted fetuses as well as those already born. You can not be sincerely pro-life and pro-pollution at the same time.

On top of my allergies to pollen, I have to struggle with dirty air. Pollen is natural; I can cope with that.

Dirty air is unnatural and affects us all, some, like me, more than others.

My hypocritical congressman claims to be pro-life and yet he votes with big oil and other polluters. Please remind those in congress that pollution can kill wanted fetuses as well as those already born. You can not be sincerely pro-life and pro-pollution at the same time.

You are right. We all have a right to breathe clean air. It affect the children, elderly, those with asthma and other breathing difficulties.

I wish you luck in the fight. Go girl.

Thank you!!

Good luck to you and to us all! Our representatives have been bought and paid for and no longer represent their constituents any more.

My father died of emphysema when he was 70 years old due to air pollution. Let's not that happen to us or our children.

Thanks!

Corporate profits at public expense has to STOP!

Thank you for fighting for your son and other people's loved one as well.

Hi, Alexandra: I so hope you can impress upon our Texas senators the importance of supporting the Clean Air Act and all other environmental regulations. Texas has one of the worst environmental track records in the country, when we should instead be leading the way. But if Senators Hutchinson and Cornyn won't change their positions, hopefully your words will have an impact on others that can and will make a diffierence. Thank you for fighting for and representing us!

Keep fighting for us! Thank you!

I truly hope a positive comes out for you and your children,

I never had the chance to meet my grandmother. She died of emphysema when she was just 40 years old. Her doctor said that her lungs looked liked she had smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day for 30 years. But my grandmother never smoked. She lived in Los Angeles in the days before the Clean Air Act. Air pollution killed her. I am fortunate that most of my life I have lived in places where the air is clean and protected. Please keep it that way for my children and grandchildren too.

Great story, Alex! Thanks for going to D.C. to defend our right to breathe.

Good luck, Alexandra!

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