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Crystal Vega, 14-year-old Chispa Arizona volunteer gives testimony at EPA hearing opposing rule on Particulate Matter standards

May 20, 2020

Today, Crystal Vega, a 14 year old volunteer with Chispa Arizona gave oral testimony over the phone during the EPA’s hearing on Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality Standards (PM NAAQS).

Crystal spoke in opposition to the proposed rule from the EPA to retain the PM NAAQS urging the EPA to strengthen rather than retain the current standards to protect the health of her community, citing her lifetime struggle with asthma. The hearings are continuing May 21, May 22, and May 27.

Read Crystal’s full testimony below:

Crystal Vega, volunteer with Chispa Arizona:

Hello and thank you for the opportunity to provide comment in opposition to the proposed rule to retain the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter. 

My name is Crystal Vega, I’m 14 years old, and I’m a volunteer with Chispa Arizona, a Latinx organizing program from the League of Conservation Voters. 

My mom and I have been volunteering at Chispa Arizona for four years now, my mom first started organizing other moms around asthma. I’ve struggled with asthma my entire life.  It’s something I’ve had to deal with my entire life, as a kid it kept me from riding my bicycle for too long  outside and now as a teenager, I struggle to keep up with sports

I’m from Phoenix, Arizona where there are millions of people living in low income communities that are impacted by unhealthy levels of pollution, just like mine. In my neighborhood alone, there are more concrete pathways than there are parks. I’m surrounded by industrial machines and big factories. 

Yet, am a young person, and I want to hike, play sports and enjoy the outdoors, but when I do spend time outside, I can clearly see the pollution around me. As an asthmatic, I’m already at a greater risk because of my age; because of where I live and where I  go to school. In Phoenix alone there are almost 100,00 children living with asthma, this makes me sad, I think of the little ones who are going through what I had to go through, late nights of respiratory therapies, early mornings of medication and inhaling exercises, but I hope that someday we can all breathe healthier and cleaner air. 

Last year I had the opportunity to speak at the Youth Climate Strike in front of hundreds of other youth like me, I felt seen and heard, I felt hope because we were all in the same fight together, and that’s the hope I have again today, The Clean Air act requires that the federal government/EPA protect our health, but this proposal doesn’t do that. Instead the proposed rule ignores science while we are suffering from this pandemic. I hope that you listen, listen to the future generations, to people who look like me, people like my mom, people that have no choice of where they can live or not. Please, save our lives, and help us breathe cleaner air.