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In early June, most of the East Coast saw the effects of the Canadian wildfires firsthand, as a thick haze darkened the sky and blurred the horizon. Some may have never seen air quality maps for their area show such an intense degree of pollution, although for some communities, this has been a recurring reality for many years. Air quality warnings are reappearing this month as the fires worsen in intensity. Not only do these bad air quality days ruin vacations and force summer camps indoors, they are also threatening the health of millions of people.

Despite these looming skies, hope still shines bright so long as we continue to organize and fight for our air! In our current legislative session, Clean Water Action is pushing for the passage of H.2131 (Barber, Connolly) / S.1382 (Jehlen): an Act to improve outdoor and indoor air quality for communities burdened by pollution. This bill requires air quality monitoring in environmental justice communities that are already disproportionately impacted by air pollution from a variety of local sources and works to improve air quality by reducing pollution. The bill mandates the installation of air filters in existing eligible buildings and advanced HVAC filtration systems for new eligible buildings. Overburdened communities will be doubly affected by extreme events like the Canadian wildfires; we need to protect our communities and our neighbors, and you can help by contacting your legislators and urging them to support the bill.

Clean Water Action is continuing to fight the source of these extreme events—the climate crisis—and many of our climate policy solutions have immediate clean air benefits for Massachusetts residents too. That’s because we know that in 2023, climate action means taking advantage of every present opportunity while building tomorrow’s solutions.

Our collaboration with Mass Save exemplifies this. Mass Save provides no-cost and heavily discounted energy efficiency upgrades to Massachusetts residents, businesses, and communities. Energy efficiency measures reduce energy usage (good for the planet), reduce energy expenses (good for your wallet), and can reduce indoor air pollution (good for your health). Clean Water Action is doing targeted outreach to communities potentially being left behind by energy efficiency efforts to make sure that renters, low-income families, and language-isolated households can all reap the benefits of lower energy costs and healthier, more comfortable homes; at the same time, the resulting lowered emissions bring us one step closer to a sustainable future.

With our coalition partners, we’re taking this work to a whole other scale. Together, we are pushing for the Zero Carbon Renovation Fund (ZCRF). The ZCRF is centered on retrofitting existing buildings to use less energy and ensure the energy used is clean. These retrofits will not only make the buildings more energy efficient - they will also, again, improve indoor air quality due to improved ventilation systems and cleaner appliances.

When it feels like the sky is falling (or maybe that’s just wildfire ash), we always have a plan to find our footing and take steps forward in the climate fight. Clean Water Action’s campaigns will improve air quality now, and set us on a path towards a livable climate future. Together, we can do this.