Six of the ten places in the United States with the dirtiest air are in California. My family and I live in Oakland, a city ranked fourth on the list. Heavy smog and soot in the air has left my community riddled with poverty, expensive groceries, and sicker people. This was not the Oakland I envisioned growing up nor is it the future I wish for my kids.

Together, alongside advocates from across California, we demanded that polluters clean up and pay up. We crafted legislation, SB 535, to ensure that any funds collected from those polluters were reinvested in revitalizing communities hit first and worst by pollution. Today, California is leading the nation, tackling poverty and pollution by investing billions of dollars to develop clean energy in homes, improve public transportation, build affordable housing near transit, and plant trees in city neighborhoods. It is pivotal that we band together with allies and grassroots leaders in other states to call for climate protections and investments for communities across the country. And we’re standing up to our national government to protect the Environmental Protection Agency so that critical climate protections remain in place in communities like my own. We cannot afford to abandon hope or determination; I know our kids’ lives will be better for it.