05/02/2014 08:06 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Grandmother Power


People say it takes a village to raise a child. I say it takes a village to raise a mom. Who does the bulk of that work? Grandmothers. Grandmothers guide us along life's exhilarating and exhausting journeys. They are among the first to set a child's moral compass. And they can be counted on, by all of us, for infinite resets, too.

After all the terrible news from the world's most prestigious climate scientists about the impacts of carbon and methane pollution on our atmosphere, it is nice to have a reset of our moods -- from a grandmother.

There's excellent news in the air: First, an important win in the courts, upholding the important Mercury and Air Toxics Standards that will do so much to protect the developing brains, hearts and lungs of our babies and children. Then, stunning news from the Supreme Court, upholding EPA's right to regulate the pollution coming from coal plants in the Midwest and Appalachia, creating blankets of smog that waft out of states like Ohio and Kentucky -- triggering waves of asthma attacks -- into states like Maine and Tennessee.

The Supreme Court decision on the "good neighbor" regulation of coal pollution was written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And yes, she's a grandmother. Just sayin'.

The Cross-State Air Pollution rule crossed party lines from the beginning. "We don't want Kentucky's dirty air," said Republican Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander. "Nine million tourists [a year] come to see the Great Smoky Mountains, not the Great Smoggy Mountains." Republican Senator and New Hampshire mom Kelly Ayotte, who bravely crossed party lines to join Senator Jeanne Shaheen in support of the rule during a Congressional attack, welcomed the Supreme Court decision on behalf of her downwind state.

I don't understand why Kentucky allows itself to stand for dirty coal -- at a time when coal companies themselves boast of being able to produce clean coal to their shareholders. My grandmother lived in Kentucky, and some of my most cherished memories are of spending time sitting in her lap, basking in her goodness. She valued honesty, decorum, kindness and thrift. She certainly knew what it meant to be a good neighbor. She loved the outdoors -- she loved spending time at the family farm. She never raised her voice. But she always made herself heard.

Moms Clean Air Force boasts a joyful number of grandmothers, judging from the comments we get. Women who care, women who are concerned about what we are leaving behind for the next generations, women who understand that we have a moral obligation to keep the village safe.

Mother's Day is coming up, but I want to preempt it with a shout-out to the world's grandmothers. You are our models: your passion, persistence and power -- tempered by years of reality checks -- are beacons for us all.

Now, onto the Mother of All Pollution Battles -- against the carbon and methane emissions that cause global warming. A grandmother's work is never done.

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