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PSR “Clean Air Ambassadors” Meet with Congress, EPA

Posted by Barbara Gottlieb on May 22, 2013

Twelve PSR leaders from across the country descended on Washington, DC recently to push for clean air, a livable climate, and reductions in toxic pollution from energy generation.  They were part of “50 States United,” a lobbying blitz that brought doctors, nurses, clergy, labor leaders, tribal leaders, parents and citizen activists to Washington from all 50 states.

This legion of Clean Air Ambassadors met with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and members of Congress to tell their stories and call for greater protections from smog, coal ash, carbon and other dangerous air pollutants, and send a powerful message:  Everyone has the right to breathe clean, healthy air.

PSR’s “Clean Air Ambassadors” joined forces with Earthjustice and six other organizations:  American Nurses Association, Hip Hop Caucus, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, NAACP, National Council of Churches and National Latino Coalition on Climate Change.

PSR’s participants raised the authoritative voices of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals from California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, Maryland, New York and Maine.  Here are some of their impressions:

Laurel Linden

“I feel encouraged that people from all walks of life are working together to address issues that affect our future and the future of generations to come,” said Laurel Linden, Ph.D., executive director of New Mexico PSR.  “I returned to New Mexico feeling very energized after meeting with so many committed people.” 

A similar thought was voiced by Cindy Parker, MD, of Chesapeake PSR and the national PSR board of directors.  She said, “I was struck by the passion of the participants and their willingness to share their stories and their experiences—all focused on improving the air quality and stabilizing the climate.”

Cindy Parker

She added, “I was also impressed by the diversity of the group in ethnicity, socio-economic status, profession, and perspectives, but all were willing and eager to work together for our mutual goals.”

“More than anything else it struck me,” mused Steven Gilbert, PhD, DABT, “that we represent the stakeholders in clean air that could not attend, such as those too sick, the children and the elderly.   All have a right to clean air.”  Gilbert is a board member of the Washington State PSR chapter and of national PSR.

Steve Gilbert

Robin Kristufek, RN, PHN and a representative of Sacramento PSR, called the experience  “eye-opening.”  She cited “the rare opportunity to meet some of the people on the ‘top’ who are wealthy and connected so don't have to live or work in polluted areas -- our national elected officials.”  She contrasted that with the many 50 States Ambassadors who are “experiencing the awful consequences of our human gluttony every day; people who must live and work our polluted mess.” 

“They the ones,” she added, “who are making the important changes we need.  Those on the ‘bottom’ are the courageous, creative, and boldly effective people we need, if we are going to avert our own extinction.”

This was the second time in as many years that Earthjustice has sponsored 50 States United, and that PSR has joined in as a co-organizing partner.

Ambassadors will continue their advocacy from their home states and through their PSR chapters.

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