High Schoolers Support EPA in Strengthening Ozone Standards

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For Immediate Release
Release Date: 1/28/2015
Contact: Leah Qusba | 260.880.8661 | leah@acespace.org

As communities from China to California are feeling the negative effects of smog, the EPA has proposed tightening air quality standards to help protect our health and the environment. These new standards could help go a long way towards reducing asthma attacks and heart attacks, as well as lessening the number of missed school days for students in high-smog areas. Over the next few weeks, the EPA will hold three public hearings on reducing ground-level ozone limits to 65-70 ppb.

Building on the momentum of student participation at the People's Climate March, youth leaders will be joining other climate activists to voice their support for strengthening air-quality standards.Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) youth leader, Teja Sathi, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia, will be testifying at the hearing in Washington D.C. on January 29 alongside several of her classmates. This isn’t Teja’s first time testifying before EPA officials. In November of 2013, she spoke out in support of the Clean Power Plan proposed rule at a public hearing at EPA Headquarters in Washington DC. Her comments urged officials to propose strict standards to regulate carbon pollution from existing sources, and broaden the energy horizon to offshore wind and rooftop solar.

In addition, five ACE youth leaders will also be testifying at the EPA hearing in Sacramento on February 2. Given that they have the most at stake, it’s no surprise that young people are at the forefront of the environmental movement. Read the comments below to understand why this cause is so important to youth:

“My nephew has asthma, so I know what it’s like to see the effects of air pollution up close,” said Oscar Garcia, a senior at Innovations High School in Reno. “His family had to move from L.A. to Reno so he could live somewhere with cleaner air. That’s not right. Kids shouldn’t have to suffer from asthma just because we can’t stop driving our cars around and burning fossil fuels.”

“At my school, my classmates and I worked to make our school Idle Free by reducing vehicle idling on our campus,” said Kimberly Garcia, also a senior at Innovations High. “That makes for cleaner air, less CO2, and less wasted money. Young people are already taking action to make our air cleaner. I’m glad that the EPA is stepping up and doing the same.”

The EPA will continue to accept written comments from the public on the proposed standards until March 17, 2015, and the agency is hopeful it will issue a final rule by Oct. 1, 2015. Earlier in 2014, the Clean Power Plan proposal garnered more than 1 million comments from the public and is likely to be a key factor in the strength of the final rule. There is hope that the revision of the Ozone Standards will share similar support from the public. If you’d like to submit a written comment online, please visit the EPA’s website.

More about ACE:

The Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) recognizes that young people have the most to lose when it comes to climate change, and the most to gain by solving it. ACE educates high school students about climate change and inspires them to take action.

Since 2008, ACE has reached over 1.8 million students across America with its climate education program and inspired over 300,000 students to take action. ACE has also empowered thousands of new and diverse students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to be effective leaders. The program has been proven to work. In 2014, ACE students advocated for a New York City climate education mandate, pushed for school districts to cut carbon, and partnered with policy experts for lasting climate solutions.

ACE seeks to shift the landscape of climate engagement, which has traditionally excluded young people and communities of color – those that are most affected by climate consequences. 73% of ACE schools are public and 60% of students in its programs are youth of color.