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Ohio advocates speak out in DC on the rollbacks underway at Trump’s EPA

“In Ohio alone, close to 30,000 children will suffer from asthma attacks due to smog pollution caused by oil and gas pollution. As someone who suffers from asthma attacks, I can not imagine the turmoil and fear a parent must feel when they’re sitting in the emergency room with their child who is just trying to breathe.” – Lauren Miller, resident of Cincinnati

On Monday, July 10th, a team of 7 Ohioans traveled to Washington D.C. to testify in opposition to the Trump Administration’s plan to roll back critical methane safeguards for Ohioans. With the new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt at the helm, the agency has proposed staying critical clean air standards that would protect 3.1 million Ohioans who live near oil and gas facilities. Fortunately a federal appeals court in Washington D.C. recently struck down the agency’s first attempt at a 3-month stay on portions of the methane standards, but the agency is still advancing separate 3-month and two-year stays.

“Some of the health issues that I have experienced are frequent headaches, chronic sinus problems, nose bleeds, dizziness, sore throat, digestive problems, rashes and itching, – but probably the most troubling is the fact that on many days it seems impossible to just breathe…I have never been against the Oil and Gas Industry… however, I fervently appeal to you to not delay in implementing the proper safety and oversight … “ – Terri Schumacher, Barnesville Area Resident

The agency held hearings on Monday to hear from residents across the country. Over the course of the day, 116 people — including impacted mothers and their children, tribal leaders, business owners, faith leaders and labor voices — expressed their support for the rules as written, with only 2 people expressing a desire to stay the rules.

“The oil and gas industry should be required to take responsibility for their pollution rather than asking Ohioans to bear the burden. This rule would require oil and gas operators to be better neighbors to residents of eastern Ohio by making them detect and capture leaks from their equipment. Ohioans deserve the protection of this rule and cannot wait for it to be delayed another 3 months, or worse 2 years.” – Melanie Houston, OEC Director of Oil and Gas

Advocates from Ohio who gave testimony included BlueGreen Alliance Regional Program Manager for Ohio Lee Geisse; nurse and advocate; Dr. Peggy Berry; affected resident, mother and grandmother, Terri Schumacher; Mom’s Clean Air Force organizer Laura Burns; Cincinnati resident Lauren Miller; Sierra Club Methane organizer Cheryl Johncox; and OEC’s Director of Oil and Gas, Melanie Houston. These Ohioans spoke in support of maintaining methane safeguards which are not only available and cost-effective for the industry, but broadly supported by Ohioans.

“In a report we released last year, we found that nearly 5,400 direct and indirect jobs will be created in the U.S. every year in a variety of sectors—including manufacturing—by adopting the leak-reducing technologies and practices that would be spurred by the EPA’s standards. Over 50,000 jobs could be created nationally over the first decade of full implementation of these technologies and practices.” – Lee Geisse, BlueGreen Alliance Regional Program Manager for Ohio

You can see more testimonies on Earthworks’ Facebook page. The organization featured infrared footage of leaky wells and testimony from impacted citizens in front of the headquarters of US EPA and adjacent to the Trump International Hotel. Reporters from major media outlets interviewed many of those testifying at the hearing, and #CutMethane was trending by midday.

“If the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency puts this rule on hold our most vulnerable citizens, children, the elderly and those suffering from chronic respiratory ailments will have no hope of living productive lives.” – Cheryl Johncox, Sierra Club Methane Organizer

The US EPA will be taking comments on the proposed stay of methane standards now through August 9, 2017. Please submit your comment today by clicking here.