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"Both our Governor and the Dept. of Ecology are failing our children in an unforgivable manner," says protester. (Photo: Fast for Our Children)

Why These Parents and Grandparents are 'Fasting for the Future'

'Our children have a constitutional right to clean air and a livable planet,' says teacher, mother, and grandmother Sally Jo Gilbert de Vargas

Deirdre Fulton

Upwards of 30 parents and grandparents are fasting outside Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's office this week, calling for a stronger and more ambitious Clean Air Rule ahead of a Thursday evening hearing on the issue.

A group of 19 people began the fast at 8 am Tuesday morning; they were joined by 15 additional supporters on Wednesday.

"It is no wonder we are here," said great-grandparent Judy Bea-Wilson, who joined the action on Wednesday. "There is nothing stronger than a parent's love for their child and, right now, with this weak draft rule, both our Governor and the Dept. of Ecology are failing our children in an unforgivable manner."

The hearing on Thursday concerns the state's draft Clean Air Rule, which aims to cut carbon emissions from 70 of Washington's biggest polluters by 1.7 percent a year. Completion and adoption of the rule was court-ordered, thanks to a group of intrepid young people who fought in court for their rights to clean air and a stable climate.

But environmentalists say the proposal is just business as usual.

"It's telling that the latest version of the rule is supported by the International Emissions Trading Association, a business organization that includes BP, Chevron, Shell, Duke Energy and TransCanada—while virtually every green group in Washington has serious concerns about the draft, insisting that the final rule use much stronger carbon emission standards and eliminate dangerous loopholes for the biggest polluters," said Cheri Cornell, executive director for CoolMom, a Washington-based collective of parents committed to urgent climate action and intergenerational equity.

Those fasting say that they have three demands of Governor Inslee and the state Department of Ecology:

  1. That the Clean Air Rule protect their children’s right to clean air by being based on current science regarding emissions reductions rates required to get back to climate stability.
  2. That a current highly flawed mechanism within the proposed rule that allows for the double counting of carbon offsets is removed.
  3. That Dept. of Ecology director Maia Bellon and Governor Jay Inslee meet with the young petitioners and families that sued for a science-based rule, in order to explain the inadequacies of the draft rule.

"Our children have a constitutional right to clean air and a livable planet," said teacher, mother, and grandmother Sally Jo Gilbert de Vargas, "and this rule falls shamefully short of protecting those rights—that's why we will be fasting on the Governor's doorstep. I feel it is our duty as parents to do so."

The public hearing, at which youths and parents are expected to testify, takes place at 6 pm local time on Thursday.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., parents and kids from across the country are holding a "play-in" and rally focused on the need to address climate change and air pollution.

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