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Upstate mom raises awareness for clean air through billboard campaign

Moms Clean Air Force is an organization that's focused on protecting children from air pollution and climate change.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — An Upstate mom is hoping to make us think about the air we breathe, and how we can make it cleaner.

Shakeila James is the South Carolina coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force. It's an organization that's focused on protecting children from air pollution and climate change.

James helped with a billboard campaign around the state, with the message of a "100% clean future."

"When it comes to air quality in South Carolina, I'm concerned with the super storms that we've seen consistently over the past four or five years," says James. "I'm concerned with excessive flooding. I'm concerned with communities that are still displaced and reeling from storms we've had five years ago and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. That's where my major concerns are and knowing that if we go 100 percent clean energy we can make a difference here South Carolina."

James has a 12-year-old son with asthma, and has seen the effects of air quality in his daily life.

"When I have an asthma attack, it really burns my chest and in that time I have to know where my inhaler is at all time," says Jaden, James' son. "So if it's anywhere else, there's a chance that I won't get it in time."

"It's just too much for a 12 almost 13-year-old kid to have to worry about," says James. "So, that's why his momma fights, that's why his momma will continue to fight and that's why his momma will continue to call Washington out and ask them stand with us and fight with us and make sure that we are holding the EPA accountable for putting protections in place and protecting the protections that are already in place."

According to DHEC, "South Carolina has clean air and is currently attaining all of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards."

However, they say there are ways to improve the air quality:

- Drive Less

- Shift work hours or telecommute to reduce travel during peak traffic hours

- Carpool or take the bus to reduce the number of vehicles on the road

- Walk or bike to work

- When shopping for that next car, consider more efficient, less-polluting models

- Don't idle your vehicle; turn off your engine if you expect to be stopped for more than 30 seconds (except in traffic), and consider not using drive-through windows and instead parking and walking inside

- Use air-friendly products

Moms Clean Air Force also urges local municipalities to make changes to decrease their carbon footprints. That's something that Mayor Steve Benjamin says is already being done in the City of Columbia.

This year, city officials planted the last tree of their 10,000 Tree Project. .

"We're about to launch, just this next year, our very first solar farm on Bluff Rd. and I-77 right in front of our wastewater treatment plant," says Mayor Benjamin. "It should produce about one megawatt, for people's reference, enough to power 1,000 homes, but significantly reducing our reliance on the existing power infrastructure, helping us save tax payer and ratepayer money, but also reducing the amount of emissions into the community." 

They are also making other investments in infrastructure to limit flooding throughout the city.

James hopes drivers will see her billboards all around the state and want to make a change. 

"Knowing that my children, all children, deserve a right to clean air, that's what the billboard campaign is all about," says James. "They deserve a right to a future and it's really important to me to do something now."

For more information on Moms Clean Air Force, check out the link here.

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