Miranda Leppla, Vice President of Energy Policy and Lead Energy Counsel, September 16, 2016
At what point does a concern turn into a passion? What pushes us to turn sentiment into action? I cannot pinpoint any singular moment that led me to environmental work. Rather, a combination of growing up in beautiful southwest Ohio, my mom’s activism, and having a fierce trial lawyer for a father led me to be an environmental advocate.
The time I spent at the Five Rivers MetroParks and surrounding areas forged my connection to nature. I walked along shady paths with my grandma, who named each flower we passed while my brother (unsuccessfully) attempted to dodge poison ivy. I spent summers eating more tomatoes standing in my grandpa’s garden than I ever managed to collect and take inside for dinner. I learned how to fish and went to summer camp at Aullwood, learning about our local habitat and the amazing animals that lived right where I did. In high school I trained for athletics by running or cycling from my parents’ home to Germantown MetroPark, always stopping to peer out over the treetops when I reached the top of the hill. I spent all of my free time outside exploring.
But simply loving the natural world around me was only the beginning of my growth into advocacy. Equally important were examples set by my parents, and the values I absorbed by watching them. Disturbed by the amount of recyclable material that was being dumped into the landfill, my mom started a recycling program at my school with another mom in the early 90s, taking initiative on her own well before a community recycling program existed in my town. My dad, a trial lawyer, is so passionately dedicated to justice and equality, that it pervaded my world view. My parents took my brothers and I along to political events, got us involved in voter protection efforts, and talked to us about important social justice issues. Their actions and values imparted on me the understanding that if you want something to change, you have to go out and work for it.
My experiences led me to study law in undergrad, taking global warming and climate change classes along with my concentration, as I pursued a path that would allow me to focus on environmental justice. The more I studied and read, the more disturbed I became over how we were treating our planet, and that low income and minority communities were left to deal with environmental problems at an alarmingly higher rate than more affluent communities. Learning the facts about environmental harm triggered a deep sense of wanting to exact justice, to right the wrongs, to make the law more protective of people’s health and well being.
After law school, I became involved in the energy sector working on large scale utility wind farms and natural gas utility matters, in addition to general litigation. With the threat of climate change looming larger than ever, devising a thoughtful approach to Ohio’s energy consumption is an urgent matter and our Public Utilities Commission and Statehouse are ground zero for ensuring a sustainable future for Ohio. The decisions and legislation must be forward-thinking, recognizing the impact today’s choices have on Ohio’s energy future and the health of our citizens.
There has never been a greater need to work together to create effective strategies and opportunities for clean energy to thrive in Ohio, all the while providing the benefits of stable prices, cleaner air and carbon pollution reductions. As OEC’s Clean Energy Attorney, I will be your eyes and ears on the critical issues around electric utility regulation, renewable energy projects and policies, and utility investments in energy efficiency. I will be pushing Ohio’s regulators and decision-makers to transition Ohio’s electric sector away from fossil fuels, and I look forward to keeping you posted on our progress toward that goal.