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Clean Air Takes Over Capitol Hill

More than 100 physicians, tribal leaders, labor leaders, clergy, nurses, parents to meet with Congress on carbon pollution, smog, ash, other clean air priorities
May 15, 2013
Washington, D.C. —

Today on Capitol Hill nurses, physicians, clergy, labor and tribal leaders, and social justice advocates are meeting with their members of Congress to call for greater protections from smog, coal ash, carbon and other dangerous air pollutants.  This National Asthma Awareness Month is an opportunity for Congress and the Obama administration to protect the health of millions of Americans suffering from asthma by adopting strong air pollution standards and protecting the Clean Air Act.

Clean Air Ambassadors,
in Washington, D.C., on May 14, 2013.

Under the banner of 50 States United for Healthy Air, this diverse group of representatives from American Nurses Association, Earthjustice, Hip Hop Caucus, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Council of Churches, National Latino Coalition on Climate Change, and Physicians for Social Responsibility are representing all 50 states and Puerto Rico to clean up the air we all breathe.

These Clean Air Ambassadors are calling for:

  • Finalizing a pending standard to reduce carbon emissions from new coal-fired power plants, and to urgently move forward on a standard to reduce emissions from existing power plants. These plants are responsible for more than one third of the carbon pollution generated in our nation.
  • Finalizing a federally enforceable coal ash rule. Over 1,400 unregulated coal ash dams and landfills threaten the health and safety of hundreds of communities living near these dump sites. Despite a massive coal ash spill and a growing number of coal ash contamination cases (204 in 37 states), the EPA has not finalized federal regulations for the disposal of toxic coal ash.
  • Strengthening the current standard for ozone pollution, or smog. This could annually prevent up to 12,000 premature deaths, tens of thousands of asthma attacks and hospital visits, and hundreds of thousands of lost school and work days.
  • Finalizing the pending cleaner gasoline and tailpipe standards (Tier 3). This would reduce smog-producing pollution and soot emitted from our vehicles, preventing up to 2,400 premature deaths, 3,200 hospital admissions and 22,000 asthma attacks each year.

Stronger national air quality standards would force polluters to use available technology to clean up their act, reducing the threat to children, older adults, people with lung disease, people of color, low-income communities, and outdoor workers and recreators.

Statement by Suzy Harrington, Director, Department for Health, Safety, and Wellness at American Nurses Association:

“As the largest group of health care providers, nurses see first-hand the devastating effects that air and water pollution can have on the health of individuals and communities if left unchecked. We encourage actions that will create healthy environments and improve the health of all Americans. We support regulations and standards that protect the public from the serious health risks linked to carbon, smog and other dangerous pollutants.

Statement by Trip Van Noppen, President of Earthjustice:

"Congress needs to hear and see that cleaning up our air a priority for a broad spectrum of their constituents. We are grateful for every health professional, clergy, labor leader, tribal leader and community advocate that has come to Washington to meet their member and tell their own story. The power of those personal experiences is what will overcome the dozens of high-paid industry lobbyists wanting fewer protections and less oversight. We are proud to help carry the message that clean air is important to all.”

Statement by Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., Hip Hop Caucus President and CEO:

“The poor and people of color suffer first and worst from high levels of air and water pollution and from devastation by natural disasters caused by extreme weather patterns linked to climate change. The Hip Hop Caucus' grassroots leadership has come to Washington, D.C. to urge President Obama to tell the EPA to implement vital protections to clean up our air, with the fierce urgency of now.”

Statement by Milton Rosado, President of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement:

“LCLAA fully supports the efforts of the 50 States United for Healthy Air. Upholding and improving air quality standards is imperative for the Latino community. Seven out of the 25 most polluted U.S. cities have Latino populations over 40 percent, threatening the health and well-being of our communities. Our 9 LCLAA Clean Air Ambassadors and the 52 LCLAA chapters are here to demand strong standards that will protect all communities from climate change and health-harming pollution.”

Statement by Jacqui Patterson, NAACP Director of the Environmental and Climate Justice Program:

“Communities of color disproportionately endure higher rates of asthma, respiratory problems and other chronic diseases, not because of their lifestyles or because of genetics, but because of their zip codes. The NAACP will continue to stand up, speak out, and fight until all communities can breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live on uncontaminated land.”/p>

Statement by Cassandra Carmichael, Director of the National Council of Churches Washington Office:

"As Christians, clean air and healthy communities are in keeping with our call to serve as stewards of God's creation and seek justice for the vulnerable and marginalized among us. Climate change, smog, and coal ash disproportionately harm communities of color, low-income communities, the young while threatening the health and well-being of the whole of god's creation.”

Statement by Barbara Gottlieb, Director of Environment & Health at Physicians for Social Responsibility:

"As doctors and health professionals, we are seriously worried about the health effects of climate change. From potentially fatal heat stroke to life-threatening storms, the spread of insect-borne and waterborne diseases, worsening air pollution, drought and food shortages, climate change is first and foremost a threat to health."

Contacts

Raviya Ismail, Earthjustice, (202) 745-5221

Jemarion Jones, American Nurses Association, (301) 628-5198

Chanelle Blackwell, Hip Hop Caucus, (202) 293-5902

Victor Baten, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, (561) 358-0254

Tanea Jackson, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, (410) 580-5762

Tyler Edgar, National Council of Churches, (239) 560-1560

Barbara Gottlieb, Physicians for Social Responsibility, (240) 461-2305

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.