Howard Neufeld, a professor in the biology department at Appalachian State University, wants the students in his Air Pollution and Climate Change class to know more than the just how air pollution effects plants. He also wants his students to know how the air pollution got there in the first place, and what we all can do to control it.
We were honored when Professor Neufeld invited Medical Advocates for Healthy Air manager, Laura Wenzel, to talk to his class about how North Carolina’s air policy is created. Laura and the students first discussed the political landscape of the NC General Assembly, looking at how the district lines are drawn. She explained while legislative districts in the western part of the state generally encompass entire counties, the district lines in other parts of the state can resemble the outline of fingers on a hand. This led to a discussion of Gerrymandering and the importance of participating in midterm elections and the US Census.
Students also viewed an analysis of environmental votes in the 2015 state house created by the NC Conservation Network and discussed the role of nonprofit organizations in working to ensure that legislators and other state officials understand how the policies they enact can affect both human and environmental health. Laura completed her discussion with an overview of the Clean Power Plan, encouraging the students to consider participating in the upcoming hearings on the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s plan in Charlotte (Dec 16), Raleigh (Dec. 17) and Wilmington (Jan. 5).