I’ve got a daughter who loves the snow with all her heart. When we get a good snowfall, she runs outside and literally immerses herself in the snow, asks to be buried in it the way one gets buried in the sand on the beach. She puts her face directly in the snow, happy as a puppy, and eats it fresh from the sky. When the snow first falls I let her partake of it, though quietly I worry about what is in the snow. I know it’s far from pure because, lovely as it is to watch fall, it carries with it what is in the air.
It turns out Maryland has some of the worst air on the east coast and Baltimore more so.
- An MIT study ranked Baltimore as having the highest rate of air pollution deaths out of 5,695 cities.*
- The Baltimore-Washington corridor ranked 8th in the American Lung Association’s list of the most ozone polluted metro areas of the country.*
- In 2011, Maryland was ranked as the 5th worst in the nation for air pollution emitted from coal and oil burning power plants.*
Of the 7 coal-fired power plants in Maryland, four are operating without modern pollution-cutting technology and two of those are within 15 miles of Baltimore. Sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter have been spewing into the air from these plants for years! As a voice for children I testified at two Maryland Department for the Environment (MDE) meetings to insist these coal plants either acquire modern pollution-cutting technology or shut down.
After a 15-month process that took input from health professionals, the energy sector, environmentalists, people with asthma and concerned citizens, stronger protections against smog forming pollution were adopted and finalized by MDE. Then, Governor Hogan on his first day in office scrapped them, just days before they were to be printed in the Maryland Register!
Every summer without these regulations is another summer where asthmatic kids in Maryland, and more acutely Baltimore, are being exposed to pollution that increases their chances of an attack. And new, unsettling Harvard research links air pollution with autism.
Our legislatures need to hear that clean air is not a bi-partisan issue, but a profound obligation we have to children and future generations. Kids can’t not breathe air, and they can’t choose which air to breathe. The voices of moms, dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles need to be heard by those who are making policy decisions. Speaking from the heart on behalf of children is direly needed in the policy process. We need elected officials to support a clean energy future, to make the protection of our basic natural resources upon which our children’s health and well-being depend the highest priority.
In an age where technological gadgets have infiltrated the playtime of children, it’s more important than ever to make sure kids get outside to play, to exercise, to get some “fresh air.” These kids, voiceless in decision-making, have a deep trust that we will protect them. That is exactly why I am heading down to the Mama Summit in Maryland on March 19.
Come to Annapolis and let your voice be heard! And bring the kids! Nothing gets to the heart of an elected official more than being in the presence of children.
Event registration will begin at 9am. We will meet with our legislators, be recognized on the House floor at the State House, attend a press conference and debrief over a provided lunch at the Ram’s Head Tavern. It will be a fun, meaningful and rewarding day!
For more information on the Maryland Mama Summit and to register, click here. I look forward to seeing you in Annapolis!
These Mama Summits are happening all over the country. If you are not from Maryland, click here to find a Mama Summit near you.
* From “Energy & Health in Maryland,” a report of the Maryland Environmental Health Network