by Joshua Low
National League of Women Voters President Elisabeth MacNamara visited Rochester and White Bear Lake last week to fight for clean air through public education forums, visits to newspaper editorial boards and columnists, and meetings with policy makers. As Minnesotans suffer from dangerous conditions like asthma and other diseases, big coal and oil companies are fighting to weaken Clean Air Act health safeguards.
I have always appreciated the League of Women Voter’s work to educate the public with their nonpartisan candidate forums and elections information, so I was initially a little surprised to learn that the League of Women Voters has been involved in fighting pollution for about as long as the Sierra Club. Almost as soon the League was formed, League volunteers were working to protect public health. In fact, MacNamara told the story of a Green Bay woman that led a campaign against deadly soot in the 1940s.
The town halls in Rochester and White Bear Lake were well attended with a mix of League of Women Voters volunteers, Sierra Club members, and the general public. Both featured policy leaders from the American Lung Association, Fresh Energy, and local elected officials. In White Bear Lake, Ramsey County Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt talked about her work to clean up the air through transit improvements and advocating for cleaner sources of energy than dirty coal.
MacNamara’s schedule included meetings with staff from Minnesota’s Senators and Representatives as well as discussions with members of the media. The League is working to protect clean air, which it began decades ago with passage of the Clean Air Act, because it’s in the crosshairs of House leadership plans to systematically dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its important regulatory work.
This summer, the League began a months-long campaign seeking to renew America’s promise to protect clean air and public health embodied in the highly successful and popular Clean Air Act. To amplify this important public health message, MacNamara already visited Missouri and Ohio with plans to visit Michigan and Montana in the coming weeks.