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May 2, 2019

Congresswoman Pressley’s Public Health Justice Amendment to Climate Action Now

WASHINGTON  – Today, during the House of Representative’s consideration of H.R. 9, the Climate Action Now Act, a bill that ensures the United States honors its commitments detailed in the Paris Agreement and lays the groundwork for further climate action, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) introduced her amendment to the legislation which demonstrates how the climate crisis threatens public health and well-being. Congresswoman Pressley’s amendment passed by voice vote and will be included in the Climate Action Now legislation:


My amendment is a common sense amendment which reaffirms the interconnection between climate change and public health disparities plaguing communities across our country and throughout the globe.

Mr. Chair, despite arguments to the contrary by many, there is no such thing as Planet B. This is the only earth we have and we need to act like it. H.R. 9 will ensure that this administration acts accordingly.  

It has been said that politicians consider future elections while statesmen and women consider future generations. It is our responsibility to consider future generations and to take the necessary actions to reestablish our nation as a leader in the global fight to combat climate change.

The impacts of climate change are not some futuristic threat – the threats are imminent.  We are being confronted by them daily and we must act now. Climate scientists have made clear that if we are to continue down this path without action, it will be too late.

So, we must act now. We must act today. We must act in this very moment.

Climate change and global warming are threatening all aspects of our society and increasing the risks to human lives and health today, particularly for vulnerable communities — like Roxbury and Chelsea in my district. These communities are finding themselves on the frontlines of this crisis.

For example, in the Chinatown neighborhood in Boston — a predominantly immigrant and low income community that falls at the crossroads of two major highways — my constituents breathe some of the most toxic air in all of Boston, air polluted with car exhaust and other irritants that are exacerbated by rising heat levels. And while these are largely invisible pollutants, the impacts are crystal clear. Over the last several years, asthma rates at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School in the heart of Chinatown have jumped from 18 to 25%.

Mr. Chair, let me make this plain – our children are breathing toxic air. These climate injustices are far reaching.

According to a report released earlier this week by the American Lung Association, more than 141 million people in the U.S. live in communities with unhealthy levels of toxic pollution — including many living in my home state of Massachusetts where air quality has worsened each year. The World Health Organization estimates that 7 million people around the world die each year as a result of these types of air pollution exposure. These toxic pollutants are affecting nine out of ten people– the vast majority of the world’s population. These statistics are staggering and quite frankly, terrifying. If it seems we are being fatalists its because the threat is a fatal one.

Again, my amendment recognizes the critical impact that climate change poses to our fundamental right to breathe clean air, to drink clean water, and live in clean and safe communities.

I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.