Green Balloons Over Houston: It’s Time Parents Talk with Congress About Clean Air

This piece was re-posted from Moms Clean Air Force. Learn More on Facebook.

By Gina Carroll

Oh, Gracious! I am looking at a map of Texas, but I can’t find my beloved Houston… Ah, yes! I see it!  It’s under all of those green balloons. And those balloons, looming like thick clouds of smog, represent all of the coal-fired power plants located in and around my town. This disturbing reality check is available via the Energy Justice Network’s website to anyone who wants to see how many (and which) industrial polluters are located in and near their zip code.

Given that I have so many coal-fired power plants in my neighborhood, I am somewhat surprised that Texas ranks at number 13 on the Natural Resources Defense Council’s “Toxic 20″ list of the most polluted states. I thought it might be higher.

Is your state on the “Most Polluted List?” Does your town harbor some of the nation’s top polluters?  The Natural Resources Defense Council released a new study that lists the most polluted states. If you reside in Ohio, Pennsylvania or Florida, so sorry to say, your state heads the “Toxic 20″ list of states who suffer the greatest air pollution from power plants. Truth is — power plant polluters are all over the country. Nationally, they are the largest source of industrial emissions of toxic air, accounting for almost 50 percent of all reported toxic pollution from industrial sources in 2009.

Here is the  entire “TOXIC 20″ List:

1.    Ohio
2.    Pennsylvania
3.    Florida
4.    Kentucky
5.    Maryland
6.    Indiana
7.    Michigan
8.    West Virginia
9.    Georgia
10.   North Carolina
11.   South Carolina
12.   Alabama
13.   Texas
14.   Virginia
15.   Tennessee
16.   Missouri
17.   Illinois
18.   Wisconsin
19.   New Hampshire
20.   Iowa

When you go to the Energy Justice Network’s map of your town and find a crowd of green coal-fired power plant balloons, like I did, other than shutter and increase your family’s dosage of antioxidants, what the heck can you possibly do to make a change for better air?

The Good News: I have been writing (incessantly, perhaps) about the EPA Mercury Standards and how important they are to the effort to clean up coal-fired power plant pollution. These new standards, according to EPA estimates, promise to save as many as 17,000 lives every year by 2015; prevent up to 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms; and prevent  more than 12,000 emergency room and hospital visits and  850,000 lost work days every year.

The Bad News: Despite the life-saving outcomes of the EPA’s Toxics rule, members of Congress and some highly motivated polluters are working overtime to delay and soften the rules before the standards are finalized in November.

In light of this full-scale assault on the EPA and the toxics rules, it’s time we parents call upon Congress to stand up to protect our children. As Dan Lashof, Climate Center Director at NRDC puts it, “Members of Congress who consider blocking toxic pollution safeguards should understand that this literally will cost American children and families their health and lives.” If we don’t get in the ears of our members of Congress, the only voices they will hear are the energy lobbyists and corporate polluters (like the companies on NRDC’s list of Top Power Plant Polluters.)

Below are links to help you reach your members of Congress:

1. Who? Here is a site to help you locate the right member of Congress to contact.

2. How and Where? Here is a website that tells you how to schedule a visit with your members of congress and what to do once you’re there.

3.What? Here are links to clean air talking points:

From the Sierra Club

From the National Resources Defense Council

4. Why? Here is how some members of Congress are attacking clean air effort and the EPA rules.

5. When?  Here’s How to Write the EPA.

6. Bonus? Here’s where to join the Mom’s Clean Air Force to help reach other concerned parents like you!


Photo Credit: Energy Justice Network


Melanie Andrus
Melanie Andrus6 years ago

WHY are the balloons green??? They need to be dark orange or red or purple or BLACK. (Don't send messages about black people - not the same thing!) Green has come to represent the GOOD things in the environment! Just a thought . . .

Marie Johndro
Marie Johndro6 years ago

heres how to put less demand on coal plants. If you live in one of the deregulated states when it comes to electricity, get your energy from renewable sources. if you live in CT,NY,PA,NJ,MD and on August 1st. IL there is a company called Viridian energy thats a third party provider of electricity.You would still get serviced from your local utility and billing would remain the same.For info go to or they have stopped over 167 million lbs of carbon emmissions in under 2 years of being in bussiness and saved thier customers over 8 million dollars by charging less then the local utility!!

Christa Leduc
Christa Leduc6 years ago

Members of Congress who consider blocking toxic pollution safeguards should understand that this literally will cost American children and families their health and lives. On the other hand it will have to take a concerted effort by EVERYONE in order for us to shift away from coal and oil. Until the consumer requires the power companies to make that change, it will not happen.

Janice R.
Janice Redinger6 years ago

As long as there is big oil and big coal, we will never again have clean air. As long as there is big oil and big coal and big pharma, we can never look forward to another healthy day in our lives. As long as these and big religion can easily buy an opinion for big politics to use, big politics will continue to give the American people the shaft.

Suzanne H.
Suzanne H6 years ago

Crazy! No one (to my knowledge) can live without clean air..........To my mind, the cleaner the air...............fewer health problems!

Dave C.
David C6 years ago

wonderful, hope that millions of people take your advice.... unfortunately, I am fearful that BIG POLLUTION still has more pull in politics due to big money donations....

Lori Ann Hone
Lori Hone6 years ago

Everyone know we need to go green and yet the profit, monies, that dirty ways that pollute stay, all out of fear of the unknown. This has to change.

Hartson Doak
Hartson Doak6 years ago

Dirty coal is the least expensive way to make electricity. The power producers have to use the least expensive sources in order to provide the energy that the people of the world are expecting. It will have to take a concerted effort by EVERYONE in order for us to shift away from coal and oil. Till the consumer requires the power companies to make that change, it will not happen.

Linda E.
Linda E6 years ago

I have always lived in Washington state and now live in the SW portion. My new congressman Herrera-Beutler is one of those Koch bros. funded, completely anti-environment horrible people. They get "their" legislation from ALEC all prewritten. We are facing an over 20% unemployment rate in my County, (USA's first) and she proudly touted that one of her first accomplishments in office "to create jobs" was to pass legislation that pesticides no longer be regulated. She passed legislation to deregulate offshore drilling to "create" jobs, too. Her newest legislation is to protect logging ROADS! I live next to a famous Christmas tree farm that is destroying hundreds of acres of low mountain habitat. They never got rid of their stock pile of, now no longer illegal, very harmful pesticides. Hmmm. I live within a few miles of a famous bulb farm and garden store that has used so many pesticides over the years, it is a Superfund site. I sign petitions to Herrera-Beutler all the time to save Medicare, song bird habitat, the EPA's ability to protect clean water & air, but I know it all falls on deaf antiAmerican, antiLGBT, antiEnvironmental, proCorporation ears. So why should I continue to bother??? I am absurd. Love, Peace, cheers, Thanks to all of you who MAKE me see that Hope in Deed exists.

Jennifer M.
Jennifer M6 years ago

I saddens me that those profits are more important than the health of a child :(