As U.S. Child Asthma Rates Soar, EPA Fights for Big Coal’s Agenda

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

GREGORY WILPERT: It’s the Real News Network
and I’m Gregory Wilpert coming to you from Quito, Ecuador. More than 40% of Americans, that’s over 125
million people, live in areas that fail to meet national ambient air-quality standards,
according to the American Lung Association’s report, State of the Air 2017. Yet Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection
Agency, under the helm of climate denier Scott Pruitt, is aiming to abolish the Obama-era
Clean Power Plan. The EPA held its only scheduled hearing on
its proposal to repeal the plan in the heart of coal country in Charleston, West Virginia
this week. While the coal lobby was front and center,
so too were many local citizens and those from environmental groups across the country
speaking out on why the plan to curb emissions from coal-power plants should not be repealed. One such advocate who testified at the hearing
is Mark Magaña, who is the founding president and CEO of Green Latinos, a national coalition
of environmental, natural resources and conservation leaders. We are happy to have him join us here today
from Washington, D.C. Thanks for being here, Mark. MARK MAGAÑA: Thank you for the invitation
to speak with you today. GREGORY WILPERT: First of all, tell us why
you and some of your colleagues from Green Latinos took the time to travel to Charleston
to testify at this hearing. Why was it important for you to do this? MARK MAGAÑA: Well, Green Latinos is a national
network of Latino environmental and conservation advocates. And for us, the Clean Power Plan represented
a commonsense environmental and economic opportunity to protect our environment for us and for
our future generations by limiting the carbon pollution coming from existing coal-fire power
plants. This was a very commonsense way to make sure
that our air that we breathe is healthier, that the asthma rates of our children is reduced. This is vital for our livelihoods, for our
economic future. And we came together from across the country
to make sure that the EPA understood that their efforts to repeal the Clean Power Plan
were not acceptable. And they want to do this on behalf of big
oil and big coal, and we want to fight on behalf of people and the future generations. GREGORY WILPERT: From what I understand, there
were almost 300 people testifying. Tell us a little bit about the divide amongst
them including, I understand, within West Virginians who were there. MARK MAGAÑA: Well, it was very interesting
’cause when we were there, from my point of view from what I saw, it was very heavily
stacked for people that wanted to fight against the repeal of the Clean Power Plan. And from the analysis I saw, it was over 80%
of the people who testified were opposed to the repeal of the Clean Power Plan. Even former coal miners were represented there
opposing the repeal of the Clean Power Plan, talking about their families and friends and
the sicknesses in their neighborhoods and the health disparities that they see in West
Virginia, in the heart of coal mining country and that they want to make sure the Clean
Power Plan exists, is maintained and is even strengthened so that their families are protected. The people of West Virginia were divided but
in the coal mining community there were many coal miners that were fighting to maintain
the Clean Power Plan. GREGORY WILPERT: Well, of course, one of the
people who was in favor of repealing it is Scott Pruitt, and he says that the Clean Power
Plan should be repealed because it “exceeds the EPA’s statutory authority.” Is he merely using legalese to justify why
emissions from coal power plants should not come under the EPA’s jurisdiction and somehow
be outside the Clean Air Act? What do you think? What’s going on? MARK MAGAÑA: Several courts have determined
that it’s within their jurisdiction and their rightful purpose under law to protect the
air quality of Americans from the existing coal-fire power plants. Him coming in and unilaterally saying it was
beyond their jurisdiction doesn’t follow what the courts have said. He’s just using that as a way to follow their
agenda, their corporate industrial agenda, to provide more giveaways for the oil and
gas industry, and at the cost of our health. And that’s unacceptable. GREGORY WILPERT: And Latinos are particularly
vulnerable to air pollution because like African Americans, they are more likely to live in
communities that have high levels of air pollution. In fact, 66% of Hispanics live in such areas,
according to some studies. Talk about this affects the adults and children
of these communities. MARK MAGAÑA: That’s true, what you said,
was the majority of Americans live in counties that have higher than average, unacceptable
levels of air pollution. And that leads to higher levels of disease,
cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease. And it really specifically hits our children
and their young lungs. When they breathe and they breathe this air
with contaminants in it, it’s much more susceptible for them to become someone who’s asthmatic
and that’s something that lasts for the rest of their life. They have to carry around inhalers. But the problem we have is that it’s not a
simple solution. Latino children are 40% more likely to die
from asthma-related deaths. I can’t imagine, being a father of two young
children, watching my child gasping for air while I rush him or her to the hospital and
find them dying because I wasn’t able to provide them, in the environment, to breathe the clean
air so that they wouldn’t have asthma. That’s unacceptable for our current generation
of children. And you find areas of our country, like the
Bronx in New York where it’s a higher level. 30, 40% of children have asthma and that’s
just not a way that we can live. We need to have our energy systems work with
us, not us be forced to adapt to our energy systems. GREGORY WILPERT: And in reaction to this problem,
is there a growing Latino movement in the US, particularly from communities that are
impacted by the effects of poor air quality and pollution? MARK MAGAÑA: There is. In a more formal sense, there’s a growing
environmental movement in the Latino community. But in a very organic sense, the Latino community
has been what I like to call cultural conservationists, meaning we historically have lived a life
of conservation, reuse, repurpose, recycle everything that we have in a way that mirrors
or exceeds the way most environmentalists will live. We learn from what I like to call from the
back of a chancla, which is a slipper, from our grandparent or our mother, not to waste. That you eat everything off your plate. That if you’re cold, you put on a sweater,
you don’t put on the heat. If you’re warm, you put wet towel on your
neck, you don’t put on the air conditioning. You close the door. You turn off the lights. You take shorter showers. You respect the air. You respect the water. You live in a symbiosis with nature and this
is something that a lot of Latinos, they live by these ways, these cultural ways, these
cultural norms that we have. But if you ask these same people that live
this way, “Are you an environmentalist?” Their natural instinct is to say no, and then
when you tell them, “Well, these are the things that environmentalists do,” then they realize,
“Yes, I am.” And the shock to them is that not everyone
respects the environment, that there are people who would make the choice to ruin our water
and our land and our air. And that is shocking. And the recognition that this is a policy
issue that we can’t just sit back and assume is going to be protected, that we need to
fight for this, is one where Green Latinos is activating more and more Latinos and bringing
together Latinos that are already activated to work together to be more effective on behalf
of our communities, on behalf of the issue overall. GREGORY WILPERT: Well, turning to the Clean
Power Plan again, how effective do you think it would be, if it was fully implemented,
in reducing air pollution for Latino and African American communities and for non-Hispanic
white communities that are living in areas where there are high levels of pollution and
that don’t meet the national standard currently? MARK MAGAÑA: Well, the Clean Power Plan,
it was estimated that it was going to save as many as 4,500 premature deaths by the year
2030. That’s a significant amount of deaths. And these are school children. These are families. And I still believe that the Clean Power Plan
will survive. I still believe that we will bring it back. I still believe that we’ll be successful in
our fight for climate change, so I hate to use the past tense, but I do believe that
efforts like the Clean Power Plan will succeed and we will bring about a renaissance in the
environment. People of color, Latino communities, where
we have been treated with inequitable placement of coal-fire power plants, of recycling plants,
of gas facilities, of chemical facilities. And these limitations, whether it’s a carbon
tax, whether it’s a Clean Power Plan will have a positive effect on our communities. And we will get them done. GREGORY WILPERT: We’ll leave it there for
now. I was joined by Mark Magaña, CEO of Green
Latinos. Thanks for being on our program today, Mark. MARK MAGAÑA: Thank you very much for having
me. GREGORY WILPERT: And thank you for watching
The Real News Network. If you like our news and analysis, please
don’t forget to support us by donating to The Real News this holiday season.

11 thoughts on “As U.S. Child Asthma Rates Soar, EPA Fights for Big Coal’s Agenda

  1. In regards to the rising Children's
    Asthma rate – the spraying of TONS OF HEAVY METALS into the atmosphere doesn't help either, I'm
    There is a News Blackout on this
    Trillion $ program by the MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, HAARP, etc. for weather modification, also called Chemtrails.
    Pilots, Doctors, and Scientists Tell
    Truth about Chemtrails.
    Chemtrails Exposed on Discovery Channel.
    The Truth about Chemtrails and their Dangers.
    What Chemtrails are doing to your Brain, by Dr. Russel Blaylock, Neurosurgeon.
    A Doctor's Plea to Awaken the Masses to Geoengineering/Chemtrails.
    All on YouTube.
    Central Hub for Information:


  3. It should be made a requirement that if you want to pollute you have to live there, experience it.. urgh what they do to people and nature it makes me so angry

  4. The disproportionate way that this impacts minorities is another example of how right-wing, conservative policy is indirectly racist.

  5. all these pesky people getting in the way of profits. The smoke stacks will do to them what blankets full of small pox once did to another group of pesky people

  6. In UK we have three deaths per day, some could have been prevented if meds had been used. USA is about three to four times greater population than UK yet I heard 55 thousand deaths per year compared to our 1 thousand. Shocking that pollution is not controlled.

  7. Hi there,
    It has been three years since we put all our efforts, time and savings into the development of Meyko. It is a playful companion for asthmatic children, a cute and smart device that helps them take their treatments every day. It makes it more acceptable, more fun. Meyko also allows to keep track of medication intakes and complications through a mobile application. The treatment record sharing tool makes it easier for the doctor to do a good follow-up. We are trying to improve the lives of these families. We have worked with hundreds of families and the best children hospitals in France to design the best companion we could. We did small clinical trials that showed stunning results, we're looking forward to do a bigger. More info here :
    Have a nice day !

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