One of the things that I love about living in Grand Rapids is the sense of community. Throughout the last few years, I have met many engaged citizens and programs that have helped make this city become what it is today. The more I am involved with Moms Clean Air Force, the more opportunities I have to meet families who love this city as much as I do. Of course, as a Moms Clean Air Force Field Organizer, I am always looking to meet and partner with organizations and programs that have the same goals as we do: protecting children’s health.
Moms Clean Air Force is a fairly new non-profit here in Michigan. We are a community of moms – and dads too! – who are protecting our children’s right to clean air – just as our parents fought for us, forty years ago, when the Clean Air Act was first passed. We educate families about the harmful effects pollution can have on pregnant moms, our children, and future generations.
Mercury in Michigan
Today there are many toxins in Michigan’s air. Mercury is one of the most dangerous. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that harms the developing brains, lungs and hearts of fetuses and young children. Coal-fired power plants are the number one source of mercury pollution. Coal-fired power plants are also our main source of energy here in Michigan.
When I am tabling at an event, one of the main conversations I have with parents is about the health impact Michigan coal plants have on our children’s health. Many citizens do not know that Michigan relies heavily on coal for our power. The next question I hear is: “What can be done?” First, we need to implement the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard. We successfully passed this new regulation in June (thank you to all the moms and dads who contacted Senators Stabenow and Levin). Second, Moms Clean Air Force would love to see Michigan begin to use clean renewable sources for energy. Clean energy will create clean air and the health of our children.
There are also several other steps that parents can do at home to help ensure they are protecting our air and the air of our children. One great thing Moms Clean Air Force shares is Naptime Activism. We know that moms are busy with home, children and work, so we have made it simple for our parents to go to our website and take action by signing online petitions or sending a quick comment to the EPA.
Energy Efficiency For Michigan Homes
Another action that does impact the air and your pocketbook is to ensure your home is energy-efficient. Energy efficiency means less reliance on coal. Most of us know that making simple changes like using CFLs or LED lighting, unplugging appliances like coffee pots, TVs or computers when not in use, and turning off lights when you are not in the room do add up to lower energy bills and less reliance on coal. But there are bigger steps homeowners can take advantage of here in Grand Rapids.
The initiative funds home energy improvements in Grand Rapids to improve energy performance, lower utility bills, and make living spaces more comfortable throughout the city. BetterBuildings for Michigan is funded by a $30 million grant that the State of Michigan received from the Department of Energy to achieve more energy-efficient homes. The initiative will provide a Home Energy Assessment by a certified energy contractor. For those who live in the City of Grand Rapids, the contractor will install several energy-saving devices such as new thermostats, low-flow showerheads, and bulbs. BetterBuildings does ask that homeowners invest a very small, one-time copay to take advantage of the program. Your return will be a more energy-efficient and comfortable home.
Energy-Efficient = Cleaner Air
I am excited about this program, both as a Grand Rapids citizen, but also as a Field Organizer for Moms Clean Air Force. I know that when more homes are energy-efficient, less pollution is emitted into our West Michigan air. Better Building’s goal is to make 2,500 homes in Grand Rapids more energy efficient within 3 years. Information about this particular program and eligibility can be found on their website.
Let’s continue to rally for clean air and the health of our children. Please join over 100,000 moms who have joined forces with Moms Clean Air Force to protect clean air.