Annual Report 2019
Working to ensure cleaner air quality for all North Carolinians through education and advocacy and by working with our partners to reduce sources of pollution.
A message from our
As we look back on our work in 2019, it’s clear to see how Clean Air Carolina continued to elevate our focus on addressing air pollution and climate inequities felt by North Carolinians who daily face environmental injustices.
In Richmond County we celebrated with residents a legal victory resulting in a 95% reduction of toxic emissions from a wood pellet manufacturing facility. We secured the installation of a federal air monitoring station in Charlotte’s Historic West End following several years of citizen science data collection by our first AirKeeper volunteers. And our annual NC BREATHE conference brought together people from around the state to discuss some of the most pressing environmental justice priorities facing North Carolina.
While the world has changed drastically for all of us since the end of 2019, it’s important to remember that communities of color have long endured the disproportionate health impacts of these injustices. With your support, Clean Air Carolina’s commitment to improving the health of North Carolinians by reducing air pollution, mitigating climate change, and addressing environmental injustices is stronger than it’s ever been. We look forward to continuing our work with you on these priorities in 2020 and beyond.
Philanthropy is critical to our success. Without the generosity of clean air supporters, we would not be able to advance lasting environmental policies, hold polluters accountable, and protect the health and well being of our most vulnerable populations.
To our donors, we thank you. Thank you for inspiring us every day to fight for our shared goal of building a healthier and climate-resilient North Carolina. On behalf of the CAC staff and board, we look forward to all we will accomplish in 2020 due to your investment in our mission and your trust in our work.
MEDICAL ADVOCATES FOR HEALTHY AIR
Medical Advocates for Healthy Air is a statewide network of medical and health professionals leading the call for cleaner air and climate health. MAHA members learn about the health impacts of air quality and climate change so they can help their patients. They also receive advocacy training enabling them to advocate for strong, clean air policies.
MAHA Program Manager
In April MAHA Manager Rachel McIntosh-Kastrinsky, Policy Manager Daniel Parkhurst, and MAHA Advisory Board Member Candace Cahoon attended the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health in Washington, D.C. While there they met with North Carolina lawmakers and health professionals from around the country to share stories on the toll climate change takes on children living with asthma in North Carolina.
Our Clean Construction Partnership was awarded the Mobile CARE Award by the NC Clean Energy Technology Center. This initiative protects patient health by reducing dangerous air emissions from hospital construction sites.
Rachel joined Durham Mayor Steve Schewel and other community leaders to defend America’s clean car standards. These safeguards protect air quality, mitigate climate change, and spur job growth in North Carolina.
Interns Tour the EPA
Summer interns Kelby Welsh, Robert Wear, and Emma Frantz spent a day visiting the EPA’s RTP campus. They met with several scientists and engineers who gave them a guided tour of the EPA’s center for air quality research. Kelby, Rob, and Emma explored innovations in sustainable building practices, spoke with air quality scientists and regulators about their work, and got an up-close look at air pollution research in action.
Clean Air For Kids
Clean Air for Kids teaches students, families, and communities about air pollution and its effects on human health and climate change. Our hands-on activities help students learn about the dangers of particle and ozone pollution. They also cover practical steps to improve the air that children breathe.
Clean Air for Kids Program Manager
Clean Air Carolina co-sponsored an eco-garden at the North Carolina Executive Mansion. The joint ozone-bird-pollinator garden will help visitors learn about ozone pollution while also providing food for birds, butterflies, and other pollinators.
For the 2019 Earth Day Corporate Challenge, Clean Air for Kids teamed up with volunteers from Bank of America and students from Whitewater Middle School to redesign the school’s ozone garden, an environmental educational tool that makes air pollution visible.
Thousands Join NC Climate Strikes
On September 20 and 27, over 6 million people worldwide left their offices, schools, and homes to join the Global Climate Strikes. This student-led movement calls for immediate and significant action to address the climate crisis. Thousands of North Carolinians participated in strikes held in Charlotte, Asheville, Winston-Salem, and other cities across the state; the Raleigh demonstrations alone drew an estimated 1,500 people. Strikers listened to speeches by student organizers and their allies, who are assuming leadership on a crisis that many politicians refuse to act on.
AirKeepers are a community-level network of citizen scientists gathering real-time air quality data to engage individuals and promote better health outcomes for all. The data we’re collecting is free to the public and is being used by scientists and change-makers to make a difference in what we all breathe.
Citizen Science Program Manager
Clean Air Carolina partners with Historic West End residents to monitor local air quality, highlighting the unhealthy air pollutants community members must breathe. After listening to a presentation of this data from AirKeeper Ron Ross, the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners committed to establishing an official air monitoring station in the Historic West End. The new station has been operational since December 2019.
We co-sponsored an Environmental Justice Tour of Charlotte’s Historic West End. The tour highlighted the proximity between the community and major emissions sources such as industrial facilities and highways to demonstrate the environmental health challenges residents face.
We’ve distributed personal air sensors to universities, tribal organizations, churches, public buildings, community organizations, and advocates statewide. In 2019 our monitoring network continued to expand. Our goal is to install at least one sensor in all 100 North Carolina counties.
As part of Esri’s 2019 StoryMapper of the Year contest, Clean Air Carolina produced a “StoryMap” that explored the history of air pollution challenges in Charlotte’s Historic West End through interactive maps and images. Out of a competitive field with over 400 entries, our StoryMap was selected as one of four national finalists.
Clean Air Victories
In June 2019, Clean Air Carolina and our partners won a negotiated settlement with Enviva, the world’s largest manufacturer of wood pellets. Thanks to our legal challenge, Enviva Hamlet must install pollution controls to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other hazardous air pollutants from a key unit of their Hamlet plant by 95%. This is a huge win for public health, and for the families and communities of Richmond County. Exposure to VOCs has been shown to cause eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, and nausea; and damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. Some VOCs have even been shown to be carcinogenic.
Following Governor Cooper’s call for dramatic reductions to greenhouse gas emissions with Executive Order 80, Clean Air Carolina and our partners engaged in a yearlong stakeholder process to develop a detailed implementation plan for achieving these goals. Policy Manager Daniel Parkhurst, seen here with Gov. Cooper at the E.O. 80 Reception, attended multiple stakeholder meetings to provide input. Our biggest priority was to prevent the inclusion of wood pellets as a “clean energy source.”
The resulting Clean Energy Plan calls for North Carolina’s energy sector to be 100% carbon neutral by 2050. The plan strongly rejects wood pellets from North Carolina’s clean energy future, explicitly stating that the wood pellet industry contributed to climate change.
Clean Air Carolina and several partner organizations reached a historic legal settlement with the North Carolina Department of Transportation concerning a highway project in the Raleigh area. The policies we negotiated will reduce climate emissions from all future state-funded transportation projects in North Carolina, along with several other key environmental protections.
Clean Air Actions Around the State
Clean Air Carolina hosted the fifth annual NC BREATHE conference in Wilmington. The 2019 conference focused on environmental justice challenges in North Carolina, the birthplace of the environmental justice movement. The full-day event brought researchers, policymakers, community leaders, and advocates together to discuss environmental justice challenges in the state and to develop community-oriented solutions.
Solar Homes Cycling Tour
In October, Clean Air Carolina and Renewable Energy Design Group co-hosted the Solar Homes Cycling Tour in Charlotte. Tour participants embarked on a guided tour of solar-powered homes in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood, exploring residential solar panels and meeting solar homeowners to learn more about renewable energy options for their own homes.
State of the Climate
In 2019 we held our annual State of the Climate celebration in Charlotte. Policymakers, educators, business leaders, and climate advocates from across North Carolina gathered at the Barrel Room at Catawba Brewing to celebrate victories and champions in the fight against climate change. Attendees met with leading climate activists from around the state, and learned about ways to get involved and support Clean Air Carolina’s climate work. The highlight of the evening was the Blue Sky Awards, recognizing individuals and organizations who have shown extraordinary commitment to improving North Carolina’s climate health and air quality.
The Blue Sky Awards honor the individuals, organizations, and partners who have shown
extraordinary commitment to tackling the climate crisis and improving North Carolina’s air quality.
Mary Ellis Stevens
Alan Burns Legacy Award
Dr. Sandy Zeskind
Medical Advocates for Healthy Air
Volunteer of the Year
Clean Air for Kids
of the Year
Renewable Energy Design Group
of the Year
Director of Operations
Marketing Communications Manager
Medical Advocates for Healthy Air, Manager
Citizen Science, Manager
Clean Air for Kids, Manager
2019 board of directors
Donald Addu, Chair
Citizen’s Climate Lobby
Assistant District Attorney
Bob Brownlee, MD
Physician, Internal Medicine
Tryon Medical Partners
Self-Help Credit Union
Mental Health Assn. of Central Carolinas
Professor, Dept. of Geography & Earth Sciences
Joy Marshall, Secretary
Lorraine Piephoff, Treasurer
Certified Public Accountant
DeAndrea Newman Salvador
Executive Director, Renewable Energy Transition Initiative (RETI)
Architect, Odell Associates
SVP, Human Resources
Foundation For The Carolinas