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India's warrior moms battle against air pollution

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Monday, February 12, 2024

In India, a group of mothers, known as the "Warrior Moms," are taking a stand against the country's severe air pollution.Stuti Mishra reports for The Independent.In short:The Warrior Moms are a coalition of mothers fighting against the toxic air pollution in Indian cities, particularly in Delhi.They are challenging the complacency around air quality and advocating for clean air as a priority political issue.The group is raising awareness and organizing protests to demand action against air pollution, which poses severe health risks, especially to children.Key quote:"Every parent’s concern is that children must have a healthy future. But it is not going to become an electoral issue till you demand it."— Bhavreen Kandhari, founder of Warrior Moms.Why this matters:This movement highlights the urgent need for policy changes to address air pollution, a major public health crisis in India. The Warrior Moms' efforts reflect a broader global trend of citizens mobilizing to demand environmental justice and sustainable solutions.In polluted cities, reducing air pollution could lower cancer rates as much as eliminating smoking would

In India, a group of mothers, known as the "Warrior Moms," are taking a stand against the country's severe air pollution.Stuti Mishra reports for The Independent.In short:The Warrior Moms are a coalition of mothers fighting against the toxic air pollution in Indian cities, particularly in Delhi.They are challenging the complacency around air quality and advocating for clean air as a priority political issue.The group is raising awareness and organizing protests to demand action against air pollution, which poses severe health risks, especially to children.Key quote:"Every parent’s concern is that children must have a healthy future. But it is not going to become an electoral issue till you demand it."— Bhavreen Kandhari, founder of Warrior Moms.Why this matters:This movement highlights the urgent need for policy changes to address air pollution, a major public health crisis in India. The Warrior Moms' efforts reflect a broader global trend of citizens mobilizing to demand environmental justice and sustainable solutions.In polluted cities, reducing air pollution could lower cancer rates as much as eliminating smoking would



In India, a group of mothers, known as the "Warrior Moms," are taking a stand against the country's severe air pollution.

Stuti Mishra reports for The Independent.


In short:

  • The Warrior Moms are a coalition of mothers fighting against the toxic air pollution in Indian cities, particularly in Delhi.
  • They are challenging the complacency around air quality and advocating for clean air as a priority political issue.
  • The group is raising awareness and organizing protests to demand action against air pollution, which poses severe health risks, especially to children.

Key quote:

"Every parent’s concern is that children must have a healthy future. But it is not going to become an electoral issue till you demand it."

— Bhavreen Kandhari, founder of Warrior Moms.

Why this matters:

This movement highlights the urgent need for policy changes to address air pollution, a major public health crisis in India. The Warrior Moms' efforts reflect a broader global trend of citizens mobilizing to demand environmental justice and sustainable solutions.

In polluted cities, reducing air pollution could lower cancer rates as much as eliminating smoking would

Read the full story here.
Photos courtesy of

North Carolina Judges Say Environmental Board Can End Suit While Cooper's Challenge Continues

Some North Carolina judges are allowing a state environmental board to go ahead and dismiss its lawsuit over pollution limits while Gov. Roy Cooper's broader litigation about several state commissions continues

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina environmental board whose recent membership alteration by the General Assembly is being challenged by Gov. Roy Cooper can cancel its own lawsuit over pollution limits while the governor's broader litigation about several state commissions continues, judges ruled Friday. The decision from a three-judge panel — a setback for Cooper — dissolves last month’s order from a single judge to temporarily block the Environmental Management Commission from dismissing its complaint against the Rules Review Commission. The rules panel had blocked regulations from the environmental panel on new numerical standards in surface waters of a synthetic industrial chemical because it said some information it received was inadequate. The environmental panel is one of seven boards and commissions that the Democratic governor sued GOP legislative leaders over in October. Cooper alleges that lawmakers violated the state constitution with laws in 2023 that contain board memberships that weaken his control over them. On six of the boards, including the environmental panel, the governor no longer gets to fill a majority of positions. Republicans have said the changes bring more diversity to state panels. The judges heard three hours of arguments Friday from attorneys for Cooper and GOP legislative leaders, mostly pitching why their clients should come out victorious in Cooper's full lawsuit. The judges didn’t immediately rule on those competing judgment requests, but asked the parties to send draft orders by Feb. 23. Any ruling could be appealed to state courts. The lawsuit is one of many filed by Cooper against GOP legislative leaders over the balance of power in the two branches of government since 2016.The panel of Superior Court Judges John Dunlow, Paul Holcombe and Dawn Layton in November blocked changes to three challenged boards while Cooper’s lawsuit played out. But the Environmental Management Commission was not part of their injunction. That opened the door to a reconstituted commission, with a new chairman and fewer Cooper allies as members, to vote in January to back out of the lawsuit that was filed when Cooper appointees held a majority of commission positions. Cooper's attorneys argued that the withdraw provided evidence that changes to the 15-member body prevented him from carrying out laws in line with his policy preferences.Dunlow didn't give a reason in court Friday why the three judges denied Cooper's request for a longer injunction preventing the environmental commission from dismissing its lawsuit. The body is also one of three challenged commissions where membership now also includes appointees of the insurance or agriculture commissioners, who like the governor are executive branch officers.Cooper lawyer Jim Phillips argued that the state constitution “charges the governor alone with the responsibility to ensure that are laws are faithfully executed.” He again emphasized state Supreme Court rulings from the 1980s and 2010s as confirmation that GOP legislators went too far in membership changes that took away Cooper's appointments and gave them to the General Assembly, its leaders or other statewide elected officials.But Matthew Tilley, a lawyer for House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger, said the governor has "never been alone in the exercise of executive power in our state.” Tilley also suggested the distribution of duties to other executive branch officers is a General Assembly policy preference that isn't subject to judicial review. Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

El Paso residents confront air pollution woes at border crossing

El Paso, Texas, residents are grappling with severe air pollution caused by idling vehicles at the Bridge of the Americas border crossing. Benton Graham reports for The Guardian.In short:The Bridge of the Americas, a toll-free port in El Paso, attracts heavy commercial traffic, leading to high levels of air pollution in nearby communities.Residents, particularly in south-central El Paso, suffer from respiratory issues and are advocating for the removal of commercial vehicles from the bridge.The federal government plans to revamp the bridge, but locals fear this could worsen pollution and further neglect their health concerns.Key quote:“To dismiss the health of residents and prioritize [industry] is not acceptable.”— Cemelli de Aztlan, community organizer with La Mujer ObreraWhy this matters:This situation in El Paso highlights a broader national issue of environmental justice. The health impacts of air pollution, particularly in disadvantaged communities, underscore the need for balanced infrastructure development that prioritizes public health alongside commercial interests.Pollution from busy roads may delay kids’ development.

El Paso, Texas, residents are grappling with severe air pollution caused by idling vehicles at the Bridge of the Americas border crossing. Benton Graham reports for The Guardian.In short:The Bridge of the Americas, a toll-free port in El Paso, attracts heavy commercial traffic, leading to high levels of air pollution in nearby communities.Residents, particularly in south-central El Paso, suffer from respiratory issues and are advocating for the removal of commercial vehicles from the bridge.The federal government plans to revamp the bridge, but locals fear this could worsen pollution and further neglect their health concerns.Key quote:“To dismiss the health of residents and prioritize [industry] is not acceptable.”— Cemelli de Aztlan, community organizer with La Mujer ObreraWhy this matters:This situation in El Paso highlights a broader national issue of environmental justice. The health impacts of air pollution, particularly in disadvantaged communities, underscore the need for balanced infrastructure development that prioritizes public health alongside commercial interests.Pollution from busy roads may delay kids’ development.

Wood-burning stoves cancel out fall in particulate pollution from UK roads, data shows

PM2.5 from heating homes using solid fuel such as wood increased by 19% from 2021 to 2022, data showsA rise in harmful emissions from wood-burning stoves has cancelled out decreases in particulate pollution from road and energy sources in the UK, government data reveals.Emissions of PM2.5 from domestic combustion – heating homes using solid fuel such as wood – increased by 19% between 2021 and 2022, counteracting efforts made to travel and produce commercial energy in less polluting ways. Continue reading...

A rise in harmful emissions from wood-burning stoves has cancelled out decreases in particulate pollution from road and energy sources in the UK, government data reveals.Emissions of PM2.5 from domestic combustion – heating homes using solid fuel such as wood – increased by 19% between 2021 and 2022, counteracting efforts made to travel and produce commercial energy in less polluting way.Government statisticians said: “This reflects the greater popularity of solid fuel appliances in the home such as wood-burning stoves.”Despite the environmental menace caused by wood-burning stoves, they are soaring in popularity, partly due to their “cosy” appearance, which has become increasingly fashionable. According to figures from the Stoves Industry Alliance, sales were up by 67% in the last three months of 2022 compared with the previous year. SIA says an estimated 1.5m homes in the UK have one.PM2.5 particles are those which are less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter, which is small enough to make its way into the human lung. According to a growing body of research, they are responsible for a wide range of health problems. These include heart and lung disease, as well as diabetes, cancer, brain function and premature births.It is estimated that they lead to the early death of more than 400,000 people across Europe each year. Last year, a study from Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, found that even “eco design” wood-burning stoves produced 450 times more toxic air pollution than gas central heating, while older stoves, now banned from sale, produced 3,700 times more.Home emissions are a large source of PM2.5; the statistics found that emissions from the domestic combustion of wood contributed 22% of emissions of the tiny particles.Another growing source of it comes from the industrial combustion of biomass, statistics show. There has been recent anger at the government’s decision to offer the Drax power plant extra subsidies to burn trees for electricity.

‘You can taste it’: El Paso residents fear air pollution will worsen after border crossing upgrade

Neighbors want to ‘get the trucks out’ as the idling vehicles choke the air, causing a public health concern in the historically disadvantaged areaOn a dark November night, a stream of cars and trucks lined up to cross the US border into Mexico. The commute, a commonplace one for many who live and work in the border city of El Paso, Texas, seemed interminable, and as the wait dragged on, the exhaust leaving idling cars choked the surrounding air.At Bridge of the Americas, one of the region’s most popular ports of entry, this slow crawl across the border is a near daily occurrence – and residents of surrounding communities say the resulting air pollution is killing them. Continue reading...

On a dark November night, a stream of cars and trucks lined up to cross the US border into Mexico. The commute, a commonplace one for many who live and work in the border city of El Paso, Texas, seemed interminable, and as the wait dragged on, the exhaust leaving idling cars choked the surrounding air.At Bridge of the Americas, one of the region’s most popular ports of entry, this slow crawl across the border is a near daily occurrence – and residents of surrounding communities say the resulting air pollution is killing them.The port is the city’s only toll-free one, making it especially attractive to the hundreds of thousands of commercial vehicles that cross there annually. The bridge’s facilities are over 50 years old and federal regulators say they are in urgent need of revitalization. But local environmental advocates say such an effort would cater to the needs of the business owners who use the port over the health concerns of the residents who live nextdoor.“It’s a public health issue. Lives are being affected,” said Cemelli de Aztlan, a community organizer with La Mujer Obrera, an El Paso organization committed to empowering working women of Mexican heritage. She worries that local leaders aren’t doing enough to elevate the concerns of its most vulnerable residents. “To dismiss the health of residents and prioritize [industry] is not acceptable.”In light of the federal push to revamp the Bridge of the Americas, some residents say commercial vehicles shouldn’t be using the bridge in the first place given that it’s located so close to homes, schools and churches in a historically disadvantaged neighborhood. For activists like De Aztlan who have been living with the environmental impacts of trucks coming in and out of their communities for years, the goal is clear.“Get the trucks out,” De Aztlan said.A history of pollutionFor companies that move goods from maquilas on the Mexican side of the border into the US, the federal push to modernize the toll-free bridge represents an opportunity to make their operations even more efficient.An aerial view of the Bridge of the Americas in El Paso Texas in 2016. Photograph: James Tourtellotte/US Customs and Border ProtectionBut many in the surrounding south-central El Paso neighborhoods see the project as an opportunity to highlight existing environmental injustices, saying that the truck traffic worsens the surrounding area’s air quality and puts their respiratory health at risk.South-central El Paso has historically been home to working-class communities like the San Xavier neighborhood, where residents say their feedback on infrastructure projects has previously been ignored. Ricardo Leon has lived in San Xavier, adjacent to the Bridge of the Americas, for the majority of the last 60 years. He said he’s developed a cough from exposure to diesel fumes from the trucks that cross the border every day.“They’re just idling and you can smell everything. On a hot day it’s very, very irritating, annoying. You just can’t stand it. Your eyes start burning, you feel it in your throat, you can taste it,” Leon said.Neighbors are particularly concerned about the traffic’s impact on their children. Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, which represents residents of the San Xavier community, recently requested that Zavala elementary school, which abuts the highway, be closed and converted into a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) administrative office.Poor air quality has long been a community issue for this region of El Paso. The Environmental Protection Agency puts the diesel particulate matter, traffic proximity, and air toxics cancer risks in the neighborhoods surrounding the Bridge of the Americas in the 95-100th percentile range compared with the rest of the country. The American Lung Association ranked El Paso as the 14th worst city in the US for ozone pollution, giving it an F rating.They’re just idling and you can smell everything. On a hot day it’s very, very irritating, annoying. You just can’t stand itPenelope Quintana, a public health professor at San Diego State University who studies the impact of idling trucks near ports of entry, said air pollution from vehicles can increase the incidence of asthma, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. “Heavy duty trucks spew out much more pollution than passenger vehicles, and it tends to be very toxic pollution,” Quintana said.Indeed, south-central El Paso has some of the city’s highest asthma rates, with all US census tracts in the area above the 8% national average, according to the Maps for Equity project.Leon and his neighbors worry pollution could get even worse if the federal government’s $700m investment in revamping the Bridge of Americas expands the port and encourages more companies to open factories in nearby Mexico. The port currently sees 200,000 commercial trucks cross yearly.For De Aztlan, who lives in the Chamizal neighborhood, directly across from the Bridge of the Americas, knowing the history of the port is key to understanding how it has disrupted local communities.During a 1963 convention, US and Mexican leaders renegotiated the binational border; the resulting demarcation had the border running through the middle of the Chamizal area. “When they did that they were dividing a neighborhood where suddenly someone’s grandma lived in another nation,” De Aztlan said. The Bridge of the Americas followed a few years later, in 1967.Customs and Border Protection agents check documents of people entering the US at the Bridge of the Americas in El Paso, Texas, on 8 November 2021. Photograph: Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty ImagesThe bridge being free was intended to keep binational families closer, said De Aztlan, not for big companies to cheaply move goods between the countries, which she said increased with the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).skip past newsletter promotionOur US morning briefing breaks down the key stories of the day, telling you what’s happening and why it mattersPrivacy Notice: Newsletters may contain info about charities, online ads, and content funded by outside parties. For more information see our Privacy Policy. We use Google reCaptcha to protect our website and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.after newsletter promotionAn uncertain path forwardIn recent months, there have been some signs that the federal agency that manages the Bridge of the Americas port is listening to activists’ claims. But residents remain unsure of what happens next.The General Services Administration (GSA) is currently weighing a number of different designs for the port’s renovation, including an option that would prohibit commercial vehicles, according to Daniel Partida, the GSA senior project manager. That option, which Partida said was developed in response to community feedback, would require buy-in from CBP, which currently remains up in the air.Regardless of the ultimate design, the federal project will include tearing down and rebuilding the port’s ageing buildings. In all versions (except the option forgoing commercial lanes) the number of passenger and commercial lanes would expand.We know that the congresswoman is involved on some level ... she should be familiar with the needs of these neighborhoodsThe GSA is taking comments about the project from the community through 23 February 2024 and plans to announce the design decision sometime next year, after completing an environmental impact statement.Although the ultimate design of the revamped port will be determined and funded by federal powers, advocates who oppose commercial vehicles at the port have been calling on local leaders to back their cause, hoping their support could help sway the final outcome. But their success has been mixed: some city and county officials have supported letters calling to ban trucks on the Bridge of the Americas, while others have balked at the idea. Recently, on 30 January, the El Paso city council blocked an effort to send the GSA a letter supporting the removal of trucks from the Bridge of the Americas.“At the very least we owed it to [constituents] to listen to them,” said Josh Acevedo, a newly elected city representative, who represents much of south-central El Paso. He added, “This is a group that has been shunned over and over in many different areas.” His office plans to submit its own letter to the GSA advocating for the removal of commercial trucks from the port.Veronica Escobar, a representative who called the federal project “significant” and “long overdue”, has argued that making the port more efficient could reduce air pollution if trucks spend less time idling. However, she said she was soliciting feedback from constituents and hoping to hear more about their vision for the port.But some in the south-central neighborhoods are tired of giving feedback.“We know that the congresswoman is involved on some level, but she’s our previous county commissioner, she’s our previous county judge,” said Cynthia Renteria, who lives in south-central El Paso. “She should be familiar with the needs of these neighborhoods.”Renteria said her community is ready for a solution now. They’ve recently seen trucks shift away from ports – as waves of migrants crossed into El Paso in recent months and border enforcement officials chose to close the port to commercial vehicles last September. The move intensified calls to remove commercial vehicles permanently.Renteria said while the project could potentially benefit the wider El Paso-Ciudad Juárez community, her neighborhood and their health concerns have historically not been taken seriously.“It’s dangerous to be outside when you’re breathing diesel, or when it’s not safe to cross the street, or when you’re missing sidewalks,” she said. “That is the kind of neglect that this area has faced.”

California's attempt to cut down on plastic bags has unintended consequences, spurring new legislative action

In the decade following California's celebrated first-in-the-nation single-use plastic bag ban, plastic bag waste jumped by nearly 50%. What went wrong?Susanne Rust reports for The Los Angeles Times.In short:California's ban on single-use plastic bags led to an increase in heavier, so-called "reusable" bags, causing a surge in plastic waste.The new legislation aims to close the loophole that allowed these thicker bags, with a focus on truly reducing plastic use.Other states have learned from California's experience, adopting more stringent measures to avoid similar pitfalls.Key quote: "Californians want less plastic, not more." — Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica)Why this matters: Revisiting California's ban on single-use plastic bags spotlights the complexities of crafting effective environmental legislation and the importance of adaptability in policy-making. Competing interests have made the U.S. a laggard in the broader effort to combat plastic pollution.

In the decade following California's celebrated first-in-the-nation single-use plastic bag ban, plastic bag waste jumped by nearly 50%. What went wrong?Susanne Rust reports for The Los Angeles Times.In short:California's ban on single-use plastic bags led to an increase in heavier, so-called "reusable" bags, causing a surge in plastic waste.The new legislation aims to close the loophole that allowed these thicker bags, with a focus on truly reducing plastic use.Other states have learned from California's experience, adopting more stringent measures to avoid similar pitfalls.Key quote: "Californians want less plastic, not more." — Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica)Why this matters: Revisiting California's ban on single-use plastic bags spotlights the complexities of crafting effective environmental legislation and the importance of adaptability in policy-making. Competing interests have made the U.S. a laggard in the broader effort to combat plastic pollution.

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