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No solutions offered for clean air

An op-ed by Head Mom, Jen, recently appeared in multiple local Colorado papers; here’s what it said:

The state legislature wrapped up this week, with a whimper. Lawmakers failed to deal with something so basic that it’s hard to believe our state leaders are ignoring it — the air we breathe.

The American Lung Association just released their latest State of the Air report. Each year they compile official air quality data from around the country which they put in perspective for those of us who don’t understand what all those numbers mean. They boil it down to a simple letter grade like our kids bring home on their report cards. Alarmingly, we’re failing.

Nine counties in Colorado received an “F,” including Larimer County. Two others received a “D.” That’s two more counties that received an “F” than last year. While there were some minor areas of improvement, it’s clear we have a lot of work ahead of us.

Air pollution can cause permanent problems in young children whose lungs are still developing, in addition to other serious effects like lung cancer and asthma attacks. As parents, our most important job is to protect our children — but we alone can’t change the air.

Legislators couldn’t come to agreement, and the governor didn’t provide the leadership to push through a solution to this problem. There was no clean energy legislation. While an energy efficiency bill passed, and this is good news, it extended programs that are already in place. Since those programs have been in place and we’re still failing, we clearly need a bigger, more-comprehensive solution to match the extent of the problem.

As parents, if our child brings home a report card with failing grades we don’t say that it’s OK and ignore it. We would try to understand what went wrong and address the problem. So why aren’t our state leaders doing that with our air? And just as I would ask my child what happened, I’m asking the governor: what happened? Why are we failing and what are we going to do to fix the problem?

It’s bad enough now, but what’s worse is we’re heading into summer. The heat of summer exacerbates ozone pollution; almost all our red alert days happen during the summer. Summer should be a time of carefree outdoor play for our kids or when we head to the mountains to explore our state. Unfortunately, air doesn’t stay in one place so leaving the metro area doesn’t alleviate the situation.

Now that we’ve missed the opportunity to address the issue during the legislative season we need Gov. Hickenlooper to address it. He stood up to tell President Trump to uphold the Paris climate agreement and he has pledged that Colorado should have the cleanest air in the country. Now we need action to match the sentiments.

We call on Gov. Hickenlooper to take action to protect our children from the dangerous impacts of ozone pollution. He has the authority. Whether it’s through executive orders or through a state agency like the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, he must and can act. With such a large portion of our population living in a county with failing air quality we can’t sit back and wait for future legislative sessions to try again.

Introducing: The Climate Change Girl Scouts Patch!

The Girl Scouts of Colorado and Colorado Moms Know Best are excited to announce a new Girl Scout patch – The Climate Change patch. image002

Remember that little adrenaline rush you got when you earned a new Girl Scout patch? We think of these like diplomas that show the world what a girl has strived for, learned and accomplished. In fact, patches are sometimes even handed to recipients in a graduation-esque ceremony; and that’s exactly what will happen in the Colorado Statehouse in April when the first group of girls will earn and receive their patch.

The Girl Scouts of Colorado and Colorado Moms Know Best want the Climate Change patch to be a fun and engaging way for girls to learn more about climate change while building useful skills to last a lifetime.  The current generation of children is the one that will bear the greatest burden of climate change and have the most to gain by preventing its impacts. Hopefully, Scouts will be motivated to take a leadership role on this vital issue and take part in improving their own future.

Many of us are noticing the effects of climate change around us. We’re constantly setting new records for warmer temperatures and hearing about crazy changes in our seasons like a January and February with no snow — in Chicago!   We’re seeing more devastating extreme weather events.  The bad news is that human-made toxic pollutants are added to the atmosphere by burning dirty fossil fuels — creating these conditions.

But the good news? We have the power to change that.

colorado kids with firefighterGirls will calculate their own carbon footprint, understand the impacts of climate change at a local level, and be inspired to make a difference. They’ll acquire skills to affect policy on other issues that interest them as well.  They can learn how to research and present their findings. They’ll also learn about how government works and how to make sure their voices can be heard on the key issues of their generation.

Girls earn the patch by finishing one age-appropriate activity in each of the three categories – Discover, Connect, Take Action. They can choose from things like researching clean energy jobs, examining climate change in their towns, and talking to decision makers.

The Climate Change patch is now available.  Find out more details and read about the ways you can get the patch here.

Why methane is a big deal

Since we were founded, Colorado Moms Know Best has advocated for reductions in methane pollution. For us, the reasons for doing so are clear every time we look at our kids: it all comes back to their health. Methane pollution from oil and gas operations contains chemicals that lower our air quality, exacerbating asthma and contributing to other respiratory problems – particularly in children.

Did you know that one in ten children suffer from asthma in Colorado?

Fortunately, the Obama Administration developed the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule, helping to protect the air that our children breathe. These safeguards were inspired by Colorado’s own methane protections put in place by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (if you have been with us since the beginning, then you may remember that organizing around those safeguards was our first public foray into fighting for clean air).

After following Colorado’s lead, the safeguards were developed at the national level over five years and were shaped by the more than 300,000 comments that the government received during that process. The safeguards protect public health and ensure that valuable energy and taxpayer dollars are not simply burned away into the sky. Seems like common sense, right?

Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago, the House of Representatives passed a little-used Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to repeal these methane safeguards. Even more concerning is that by using a CRA resolution, any future administration will be prevented from ever enacting a rule that is substantially similar.

We cannot let that happen. We must stand up for our children.

To protect our Colorado outdoor opportunities and way of life, we need the U.S. Senate to stand up for our children’s health and stop the CRA resolution. I sent a letter to our U.S. Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet asking them to vote no. But, I need your voice too. Please pledge to call our Senators today and ask them to protect your kids!

CMKB-BLM-CRA

Call Colorado’s Senators at the numbers here and ask them to stand up for Colorado — protect the health of our children, in addition to avoiding waste of energy and taxpayer dollars, ask them to vote no on the BLM CRA and further, to take a leadership role on this issue.  Let them know that Colorado parents are counting on them to do the right thing for the health of their children and to ensure that we have the cleanest air in the country.

As we have seen with other issues and votes already — every single call will make a difference!

If you need help knowing what to say, below is a sample call script for this issue:

Hi Senator, my name is [first & last name] & I live in [zip code]. I’m calling to ask you to VOTE NO on a CRA for the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane and Waste Prevention Rule. Colorado has led the way on this issue and its Senators need to continue the momentum. The rule requires the capture of methane rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. Our natural resources belong to the American people; we cannot let D.C. and congress shortchange taxpayers, damage public health including that of our children, and compromise our national security by passing a CRA resolution blocking these recent BLM reforms.

Call their DC offices or the office nearest you:

Senator Cory Gardner’s offices:

  • Colorado Springs (719) 632-6706
  • Denver (303) 391-5777
  • Durango (970) 415-7416
  • Fort Collins (970) 484-3502
  • Grand Junction (970) 245-9553
  • Greeley (970) 352-5546
  • Pueblo (719) 543-1324
  • Yuma (970) 848-3095

Senator Michael Bennet offices:

  • Alamosa 719-587-0096
  • Colorado Springs 719-328-1100
  • Denver 303-455-7600
  • Durango 970-259-1710
  • Fort Collins 970-224-2200
  • Grand Junction 970-241-6631
  • Pueblo 719-542-7550

A Back to School Reminder: Turn Off Those Engines When Picking Up Kids

School has started!  Kids are getting to know new teachers and classmates, and parents are wondering what to do with all their extra time (just kidding about that last part).  For some kids and their parents, they may be getting to know a new school or it may be a return to see familiar faces you’ve missed seeing over the summer.  Whatever the case it offers an opportunity for us all to check on our daily routine and how it impacts the air our kids breathe.

children-breathing-sign-08-08

Some families are lucky enough to be able to walk or bike to school, which helps keep our air cleaner.  Others have to drive – but did you know that idling just one car for five minutes per day outside your child’s school can emit as many as 25 pounds of harmful air pollutants and 260 pounds of carbon dioxide a year?  Throughout the Denver Metro area, idling is responsible for an estimated 40,000 tons of harmful air pollution a year and 400,000 tons of CO2 emissions.  This results in over 40 million gallons of fuel wasted while idling, costing area residences and businesses over $100 million dollars a year.

That’s why the Clean Air at Schools: Engines Off! (CASEO) program is so important!  CASEO aims to reduce air pollution at schools in Colorado by working with parents and school administrators to reduce idling vehicles in pick up areas outside schools.  Parents and buses are most commonly idling right next to the playground where children are playing – and of course running around breathing in pollutants.  CASEO provides great information, signs to post in pick up areas to raise awareness and even works with school districts to upgrade and retrofit their diesel school buses.

If you drive your kids to school,  the easiest way to make a difference is to turn your engine off while you wait.  In fact, it’s recommended to turn off your engine anytime your car will be stopped for 30 seconds or more.  For an even bigger impact you can work with your school to take additional steps school-wide.  Check out their website for more info. and tools to help.

Help make a difference for all our kids – learn more about CASEO today!

What’s the big deal about the Regional Haze Rule?

Hello! As the new Head Mom for Colorado Moms Know Best, I’m so excited to combine my passion for ensuring my daughter’s bright future with my desire to protect our healthy environment and clean air so she can run, jump and play outside. We’ll have lots of upcoming events where we can network, have some fun and make a difference together – starting less than week from today.

On June 1st – just in time for the National Park Service’s 100 year anniversary – join moms like you to make our voices heard on strengthening the Regional Haze Rule.

Believe it or not, loopholes in the rule lead to harmful air pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park and other parks that rivals the poor air quality in major cities like L.A. and Denver. Thankfully, the Obama Administration has proposed changes that will restore natural air quality to national parks and wilderness areas. 

If you’re like me and are taking your kids to visit a national park this summer, I know you’ll want to know that your family is breathing clean, healthy air.  

But the Regional Haze Rule changes are not a slam dunk: the EPA needs to hear from the public – concerned parents like us – before deciding whether to finalize them.

Join me to speak out in support of these rules on June 1st starting at 9 a.m. at the EPA regional office at 1595 Wynkoop Street in Denver.  

Please help us clean up the pollution in our parks. For more information, check out the National Parks Conservation Association’s website then email me at comomsknowbest@gmail.com to let me know if you can join me at the hearing.

Hope to see you there!
Jen

Keep It Up, Moms!

Emma PinterAs a mother, I’ve started to think about summer – signing up for camp, organizing play dates with neighbor children and planning our first backpacking trip. One thing I know for sure: We need clean air to enjoy Colorado this year and for generations to come.

I recently found this photo from my 1st CMKB event a few years back – it’s a reminder of how honored I have felt to spend the past year working and talking with moms across this state about clean air policy, the future of our state and our families. When asked what CMKB is about I quickly replied, “clean air and healthy kids!”

Over the past year, we have attended hearings at the EPA and several at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. We have celebrated at Rocky Mountain. National Park and protested with Santa and his reindeer in front of Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s office. We have appeared on television, radio, in newspapers and online. Moms will go wherever there is a need.

My time as Head Mom is coming to a close, but we are pleased to welcome new Head Mom, Jen Clanahan. While the attacks on clean energy and clean air are sure to continue, Jen is committed to organize us all to protect our Colorado. In the years to come I hope to see all of you out in our parks and the Capitol steps, as we continue this fight for our health, our Colorado and our children.

Standing up for clean air should be obvious

I am really thankful to live in Colorado, where I can hike, bike and ski in the great outdoors with my children. That’s one of the reasons I completely agree with Gov. Hickenlooper who said earlier this week: “Clean Air and protecting public health should be everyone’s top priority.”

The Clean Power Plan will reduce air pollution from outdated power plants. The facts are clear – the plan will make kids and grandparents healthier. So I am upset that Attorney General Coffman has joined the lawsuit challenging the Clean Power Plan, the single most important thing we can do to clean up the air our children and elders breathe.

The Colorado way is to collaborate to find solutions to the challenges our state faces. For years we have developed bipartisan clean air policies, garnering input from businesses, industry, government and the public. We can find our own way of implementing the Clean Power Plan that will preserve our clean air and way of life that is important to attracting new businesses and workers to Colorado, as well as grow our state’s clean tech economy.

Thanks Gov. Hickenlooper for defending the Clean Power Plan – it’s good for kids and for commerce, a win-win all around.

October Event: Halloween at Bluff Lake Nature Center!

Here at Colorado Moms Know Best we have a lot of opportunities to talk policy, but this fall we would like to invite you to come and talk with each other. Please join us, with your little one(s), at Bluff Lake Nature Center at Friday, 10/30, at 11:00 am – dressed in your scary finest!

On top of celebrating Halloween (only a frog’s breath away), we have been working with their Executive Director, Jeff Lamontagne, to  create an interactive and fun “Leave No Trace” program for children. Meanwhile, our Head Mom, Emma Pinter, will be there to update parents our current campaigns and more information on how to become an advocate for the health of Colorado’s children by promoting cleaner air. Afterward, there will be a nature walk for everyone to enjoy (and practice their trick or treating skills)!

We hope to see you there!

Emma Testifies for Clean Air

Recently I testified at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment public hearing on the Clean Power Plan to let them know Colorado moms care about clean air for our kids.

signIn 2013, 64% of the electricity generated in Colorado came from coal. All of us know Colorado can do better. Right now, we’re on track to meet over 85% of the Clean Power Plan’s emissions reductions due to programs already in place. That is a fantastic start – but it’s only the beginning.

The Clean Power Plan standards give Colorado flexibility in developing a plan that works for our own state’s families, economy, and unique Western way of life. That quality of life is exactly what I highlighted when I went to testify at the CPPHE hearing, and I shared letters from moms from all over Colorado about why we are passionate about clean power and the clean air that comes with it.

Our message is simple: clean Air means healthy kids. If we want to keep our families safe and healthy, then there’s no room for pollution in Colorado. Fortunately, thanks to our state’s past history of working together to tackle air quality issues, Colorado is well positioned to meet the Clean Power Plan’s carbon reduction goals. We can do this!

emmaathearingI grew up running in the woods near my house with my sister and other neighbor kids. That unfettered joy of running in wild spaces is why we love Colorado – it is the joy we want to pass on to our children. Clean air is the foundation of good health for our children and future generations after them.

The next public hearing is November 9, from 4:30-6 P.M at Fort Lewis College in Durango. We hope to see you there. If you can’t make it, we will continue to post information about future hearings on Facebook as we get information about them, so please check back often. I hope you will join us at least once over the next year – we need as many voices as we can to stand up for healthy kids. If you can’t feel free to email us here with your concerns about pollution in Colorado.

– Emma Pinter, Colorado Moms Know Best Head Mom

Action Alert: Regional Haze!

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, HHS Secretary said early this month that the Clean Power Plan is important, “Because breathing outdoors shouldn’t send kids to the hospital.”

One of our readers, Westminster resident Ellen Buckley, took this photo.  She recently posted this photo to document the extreme haze in our state.
Aug 2015 Haze on Front Range
The persistent regional air pollution the extreme fires in the west and the poor quality of air at some of our national parks are unacceptable. In fact, did you know that Rocky Mountain National Park – the crown jewel of parks in Colorado – just earned a “D” grade for air pollution? That is NOT a grade moms are happy about!

Colorado Moms Know Best fights for clean air for our kids, community and parks – side-by-side with moms, firefighters, elected officials and others who are worried about the risks of climate change. We have created a few action items in response to this air quality crisis, just in time for Rocky Mountain National Park’s 100th birthday:

Other Actions You Can Take

1. Coloring pages for clean air!Kids coloring for clean air!

Rocky Mountain National Park Kid Coloring. We are gathering kids’ “clean air, beautiful vistas” coloring pages for a Rocky Mountain National Park’s 100th birthday card to give to elected officials at the RMNP party on Sept. 4. Click here for the blank coloring page.

2. Letters to the Editor.

If you want to submit a letter to the editor regarding the need for clean, healthy air please let us know. We can help you write it, too! Email us: contact@coloradomomsknowbest.com

Kids coloring for Clean Air3. Kids coloring for Clean Air: Kids Action Party.

Some moms are hosting kids action parties. If you want to host a kids action party in your area, let us know.  Gather together with your friends and color with your children to color pages for our larger Clean Air Birthday Card! Send in a photo of your drawings and your group when you are done.

4. Rocky Mountain National Park Birthday Party!

You can also join us at Rocky Mountain National Park’s birthday party on Sept. 4 at 11 AM where we will eat cake, play outdoors and talk to Sen. Bennet and Sen. Gardner about policies to clean up our air.

Let us know the level of support you can give to make sure we have clean air for our kids to breathe.  We can’t let our leaders think this new level of haze is going unnoticed!

~Emma, Head Mom