CHARLESTON, W.Va. – More than 50 speakers from People’s Action will testify during a two-day hearing in Charleston starting today as Trump-appointed EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt works to repeal the Clean Power Plan.
They traveled from Illinois, Michigan, South Carolina and Ohio to describe the deadly cost of pollution on their health, the health of their children, and the economic toll on their communities. Many of the speakers are low income, working class people of color, precisely those most affected by pollution.
Roy Davis, of Cincinnati, a military veteran, is one of the speakers. Cincinnati consistently ranks in the top 20 cities with the worse year-round particle pollution. Residents of the city’s low-income, black neighborhoods die 20 years before people living in wealthier neighborhoods.
“Keep the Clean Power Plan and make that plan strong. I don’t think I should die 20 years early just because I can’t afford to live in a different neighborhood,” said Davis, from Communities United for Action.
The EPA must put the most vulnerable communities at the center of the country’s energy and environmental policy. That means good green jobs and transitioning to a clean energy economy. It means democratically and community controlled renewable power that revitalizes working class communities and reverses pollution.
“It’s no surprise the Trump administration chose West Virginia, the historic heart of coal country, as the place for its sole clean energy hearing. It’s a blatant attempt to pit struggling workers from throughout the country against each other in a public arena,” said George Goehl, co-director of People’s Action.
“We aren’t playing that game. The enemy is not each other, it’s the profit-guzzling corporations that extract resources and wealth from our communities, then abandon them, leaving behind polluted land, air and water when profits fail,” said Goehl.
Lois Gibbs is the founder and executive director of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, a project of People’s Action Institute. Gibbs uncovered the Love Canal toxic waste dump beneath a school and playground in Niagara Falls 40 years ago. She continues to work with communities at risk from environmental chemical pollution nationwide.
“Day after day I receive calls from victims of the fossil fuel industry,” said Gibbs. “Their air is polluted and their farmland rendered unusable from oil, coal and gas extraction. The health of innocent children and their ability to learn and succeed continues to be harmed by this same industry.
“Frankly, the EPA should do much more to make the big energy companies that are responsible for dirty energy pollution and climate change pay the full cost of cleaning up the mess they got us in,” said Gibbs.