This Sunday, I will be celebrating my second Mother’s Day. My daughter Hazel (pictured at right testifying with me last year) was born last year a few days prior to Mother’s Day, and so I had the unforgettable experience of celebrating my first mother’s day with both of her grandmothers — we called it the Mother’s Day trifecta. Since that Mother’s Day I’ve gone back to work full-time as the director of the Beyond Coal Campaign at the Sierra Club. It has been the best (and sleepiest!) year of my life.
In that year, Hazel has made a lot of progress: eating solid food, cruising around the house holding onto the furniture, and learning to say her new favorite word (no, it’s not “mama” — it’s “dog”). In my work, I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in moving the nation beyond coal. Some of the highlights include:
- Working to support long-overdue federal standards for mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants, the biggest source of this toxic pollutant that is a special threat to women and children, because it can cause learning disabilities and developmental delays. Here I am talking about these new protections on Good Morning America.
- Securing one of the largest pollution reductions in our nation’s history, when we (along with allies and four southern states) reached an agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority to retire 18 of its coal plants and make upgrades to their entire coal fleet.
- Winning a two-year campaign to retire the only coal plant in Washington state, the Centralia Plant operated by TransAlta.
- Defeating our 150th proposed coal plant, #150 being at Purdue University (we just defeated coal plant #152).
- Preventing the U.S. Senate from weakening the Clean Air Act during the budget standoff that almost resulted in a federal government shutdown.
- Seeing the EPA finally issue standards intended to address the severe water pollution caused by mountaintop-removal coal mining, and also veto one of the largest mountaintop removal permits proposed in West Virginia history.
As a mom, all this progress makes me hopeful for Hazel’s future. But at the same time, I know we have a lot more work to do. Every year, coal pollution is still sending tens of thousands of kids to the hospital with asthma attacks, endangering infant development in one out of every 12 women, disrupting our climate, and polluting the air and water in places like my home of Appalachia.
So for this Mother’s Day, I must admit I’m not expecting a fancy gift from Hazel — a hug and a kiss from her will be the only gift I need. But there are a few things I do want for Mother’s Day this year.
For our world, and for her future, I want the Obama Administration to finalize strong new protections from the coal pollution that is making kids and families sick, including mercury, soot, smog, and coal ash. I want more of our oldest, dirtiest coal plants to stop polluting our air and water.
I want to see an end to mountaintop removal coal mining here in Appalachia, which is depriving my daughter — an 11th-generation West Virginian — of her heritage and her birthright, the mountains of “The Mountain State.” And I want to see thousands more moms standing up across this country and demanding clean energy, for our children’s futures. I hope you will join us.
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