I’m lucky enough to live in Montana, big sky country. Yet even here, we suffer from clean air issues. The mountains surround us in Missoula, which means the air can get trapped. That’s a serious issue during summer wildfires and winter inversions, which seem to be getting worse.
Bad air days are particularly hard for my 15-year-old daughter Maya who has had asthma since age three. Her oxygen intake is low year-round, and bad air days make it a struggle for her to breathe.
We're an outdoors family. All of us are passionate about hiking, fishing and camping. Last summer, when we had such heavy forest fire activity, Maya couldn't do much outside at all for five or six weeks. We'd been looking forward to going camping the last month of summer before school started, but with the poor air quality, it was completely out of the question.
My youngest daughter Katybella, who is three, hasn't been diagnosed with asthma, but every winter, she gets a severe, croupy cough. Is there a connection between Katybella's cough and bad air days? I'm not sure, but it's certainly possible.
As a regional representative for the National Wildlife Federation in Montana, North and South Dakota, part of my job is to work on climate change and clean air. There have been numerous attacks by Congress on the Clean Air Act, carbon standards for new power plants and the EPA's soot fine particle rule. It's time for all of us to stand up for better air quality for everyone and especially for our children.