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Local Health Leaders Urge to Protect Federal Environmental Initiatives to “Defend Our Health”

On July 13th, Columbus residents alongside leaders of local public health departments urged the continuation of federal, state, and local programs to protect and defend the health of everyday Ohioans.

The current administration has proposed cutting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency budget by 31 percent – more than any other federal agency. Those cuts would hit Ohio and Columbus area programs hard, too – for air, land, and water quality initiatives that keep people healthy and safe.

“The issue is simple: less regulation equals more sick kids” said Beth Liston, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at The Ohio State University Medical School. She went on to explain, “decades of studies have linked dirty air to premature births and birth defects, as well as increased rates of asthma.”

Liston spoke at TRISM–a new restaurant, bar, and event space in the Gateway District–at a gathering organized by Defend Our Future, a non-partisan, non-profit organization for young adults interested in protecting their environment. Defend Our Future is centered around millennials like event moderator Amiah Matthews, an intern with Defend Our Future studying public health at The Ohio State University.

Speakers at the “Defend Our Health” roundtable discussion stated that federal programs are critical to supplement and maintain work done locally by the city and state. Rick Hicks, Director of the Office of Environmental Protection & Sustainability at Columbus Public Health, contributed, “if we stop funding federal climate change initiatives, it will have an effect on local programs too…my department is relatively new and our funding could be taken away or shift to other [non-environmental] programs.”

The overall take away from the event was a feeling of hopefulness. Speakers urged everyday citizens to continue the conversations pushing for legislation and regulation on these issues. Hicks added, “we need to start by just saying the words. Say ‘climate change’ out loud and we can start to see a difference in our communities.”

One of the best first steps in continuing the conversation regarding climate change regulation is to call, write, or email members of Congress and remind them that millennials are counting on them to defend our health and future by continuing to fund federal environmental programs.

Other ideas for action are available at

Information on upcoming events can be found on our Facebook page Defend Our Future Ohio.