Melanie Houston, Drinking Water Director, October 2, 2015
This week, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held its third hearing in Pittsburgh on a proposed standard to address methane and toxic air pollutants from the oil and gas industry. The Ohio Environmental Council and our partner groups across the country organized to bring hundreds of citizen supporters before the EPA. Not only did we garner significant press attention, see here and here and here, but we outnumber the oil and gas industry 92 to 2 in comments supporting the new standard!
The day’s events was completely invigorating! At every turn I saw passionate, dedicated people doing their part to clean up and protect our communities. The event kicked off with a morning press event, where our own Ohio Nurse, Dr. Peggy Berry, spoke alongside a college student, doctor, clean air advocates, and mother affected by oil and gas development. We then marched to the federal building to deliver postcards to EPA officials with messages from citizens across the region. We ended the day in a public hearing room where citizens andexperts alike shared their support for EPA’s new standard and asked the agency to go even further by addressing existing sources.
Read my comments to EPA.
It felt so good to win! And it’s incredible to know that despite their deep pockets, the oil and gas industry simply can’t match our movement in terms of people power. They can’t stop, muffle or drown out the voices of those affected by this industry – like the former aluminum worker who has been taken down to his knees from the fumes outside his home, or the mother who has to close her windows and keep her children inside on a beautiful summer day because the compressor station outside her home is running.
These people took the time to share their stories this week, and I know that the EPA officials were moved. I know this because there were times when I looked around the room to see people tearing up or visibly shedding tears. And there were times when I felt a crack in my own throat.
This event taught us- in case some of us have forgotten – that we are powerful, and we can make a difference when we stand up together, with a united front.
If you missed this amazing event, check out this video for highlights from the day. Also, it’s not too late to get involved! The OEC will be hosting a webinar for citizens to learn more about the EPA’s new air pollution standard for the oil and gas industry on October 29th. We also will be co-hosting a series of citizen hearings to come in November. If you are interested in getting involved, please email Melanie Houston at MHouston@theOEC.org.
From Ohio, I want to thank Bill Baker, John Morgan, Paul Feezel, Dr. Peggy Berry, Laura Burns, and Pat Jacobson for testifying. A huge shout out to Brian Kunkemoeller and Cheryl Johncox (Sierra Club-Ohio Chapter) and Bill Baker for helping another vanload of citizens to get from Ohio to Pittsburgh and for video recording the days events. Praise for Dr. Randi Pokladnik for sharing her written testimony, and to Elaine Fujimura and many other Ohio citizens who are not named here for volunteering their time to attend the rally and the hearing.