Chispa is a community organizing program of the League of Conservation Voters (LCV). Chispa builds the capacity of communities of color to influence policy makers and pressure polluters to protect communities’ rights to clean air and water, healthy neighborhoods, and a safe climate for generations to come.
As always, Chispa is working to change environmental injustices. Last year, we launched the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign to call on elected leaders to invest in electric school buses, which will protect our children from dirty diesel pollution. We’re speaking out for the Clean Power Plan, a pollution-cutting safeguard that Scott Pruitt’s EPA is trying to upend. We’re fighting for clean energy at state legislatures. And, we’re using LCV’s National Environmental Scorecard to hold lawmakers accountable. Across the country, Chispa is fighting for the environmental rights every community deserves.
Here are some of the highlights of these efforts from the past couple months:
Demanding an Investment in our Children’s Health
Across the country, members of our Clean Buses for Healthy Niños coalition have collected over 145,000 petitions and delivered over 35,000 petitions to their governors in five states, calling on them to invest their state’s Volkswagon settlement funding in clean, zero-emission school buses for our children.
The people involved in this campaign range from lawmakers to promotores to the children themselves—in Arizona, Oslin and Tonantzin, ages 10 and 9 respectively, made a special appeal for Santa Claus to bring electric buses to schools in their state, acting as the voice for millions of children of color who suffer from asthma at higher rates than their peers. You can sign our petition and ask others to join our campaign too. For more info, check out the website: http://www.cleanride4kids.org/
Sharing Resources for the Clean Buses for Healthy Niños Campaign
This past February, Chispa and our partners hosted a webinar where we shared resources on how schools can join the push for zero-emission electric bus fleets. Nearly a hundred school administrators, public health officials, transportation directors, and others attended the webinar, which included presentations from the Environmental Law and Policy Center, Sierra Club, and the University of Maryland. So long as teachers and mothers like Chispa volunteer Tyrese have to pull their children from school buses due to health complications, we’ll continue sharing resources for how to join this fight.
Advancing State Legislation for Electric School Buses
In New Mexico, Juntos testified before the State Legislature in support of their $18 million Volkswagen settlement funds to be used to purchase electric school buses. Thanks to the compelling testimony of mothers like Martha, a promotora with Juntos, and the advocacy of legislators like Representative Patricia Roybal Caballero and Senator Linda Lopez, the Senate committee passed the bill.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, Representative Charlene Fernandez introduced a similar bill. Joined by Chispa AZ families and supporters, Fernandez called on Governor Doug Ducey to make the right choice for Arizona’s children. Nearly 20 state representatives cosponsored the bill. Despite the House committee chair’s refusal to consider the bill, Fernandez is continuing the fight by asking people to participate in the public comment period for the state’s use of the VW settlement funding.
Defending the Clean Power Plan
We continued to fight for the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which Scott Pruitt’s EPA wants to end. Maryland legislators held a hearing, and along with allies from Moms Clean Air Force, GreenLatinos and LULAC, Chispa MD organizer Johanna testified about the importance of protecting the CPP. Johanna shared stories from her community—those of Maryland parents, teachers, students, and even her own mother—all of whom struggle with asthma and other illnesses because of the very pollution the CPP is meant to tackle.
Chispa AZ participated in National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Action Fund’s environmental roundtable with U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego to discuss the importance of community participation in fighting against the repeal of the CPP.
Fighting for Clean Energy
Chispa Nevada and Arizona joined efforts to require that by 2030, 50 percent of the energy generated by their state come from renewable energy like wind and solar. In Arizona, Chispa promotora and mother Herlinda spoke at a press conference about raising her daughter, who suffers from serious health issues including asthma, and lives in a neighborhood contaminated by fossil fuel pollution. She hopes that renewable energy will help phase out these pollutants. In Nevada, college students shared their concerns about our future, given the rapidly changing climate, and they cited renewable energy as a necessary part of the solution.
Holding Elected Officials Accountable with the 2017 National Environmental Scorecard
As part of the LCV family, Chispa is leveraging the recently published LCV Scorecard to inform communities which senators and representatives enable polluters, and which have the courage to stand up for the health of our families and world. Please read the scorecard here, available in Spanish, to see how your state’s congressional delegation ranked.