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Jun 29, 2022

Laurie Anderson: Fighting For Clean Air And The Children Who Breathe It

Heidi Stevens

Laurie Anderson and her family moved to Broomfield, Colorado, for her husband’s job and were immediately drawn to the breathtaking views and wide open spaces. But the summer after they arrived, they learned that a large-scale oil and gas development project would be taking over the community—fracking the land all around their new home. 

“It’s a very intensive, industrial process,” Anderson said. “It’s very noisy. You can’t even sleep. It brings carcinogenic chemicals to the surface and the stuff gets in the air. It motivated me to spend every spare moment I had advocating against this project.”

Anderson, a mother of five, galvanized her neighbors to push elected officials to reject the project. She researched and publicized the cumulative health and safety risks of fracking and eventually launched a successful bid for a seat on the Broomfield City Council. 

If you’re not giving children a livable climate and clean air to breathe, all the other issues become secondary.”

The oil and gas development ultimately went forward, against the community’s wishes, but the process left Anderson more determined than ever to fight for a healthy climate for her kids — for all kids.

“We can fund all the social programs we want,” she said. “But if you’re not giving children a livable climate and clean air to breathe, all the other issues become secondary.”

Anderson became a field consultant for Moms Clean Air Force, a national organization that works to protect children from air pollution and climate change by connecting parents with elected officials, hosting and participating in public hearings and protests and pushing for local, state and federal policies that prioritize the health of children and the planet. They’re working to move school buses away from diesel and toward electric models, protect Black and Latina moms and babies from the disproportionate impact of climate change and strengthen clean air standards for cars and light trucks, among other projects.

“We do this work with and for our kids,” Anderson said. “I started at a point where I was carrying kids around on my hips and now my kids have spoken in front of the city council. They’ve testified in front of the E.P.A.”

Anderson said she is sometimes daunted by the size of the task at hand — protecting the health of an entire planet and its people. But she’s energized by the progress she’s witnessed and helped enact.

“It feels like summiting a mountain, but it doesn’t feel hopeless,” she said. “We still have time to act, and we can’t afford to hand this off to our children. That keeps me going.”


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