FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Contact: Jodi Hirsh, firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-326-9832
LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIALS ACROSS APPALACHIA PRAISE INFLATION REDUCTION ACT, KEEP UP THE FIGHT FOR FEDERAL CLIMATE INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENTS
“We demand boldness from our leaders in Washington.”
APPALACHIA – Most Appalachians — whether in cities, small towns or the backwoods – want to do well for themselves and their families, and want to do their part in the larger community. But they expect to get something in return—a fair shot at a good life. For too long, extractive industries and the politicians they buy off have left Appalachia behind, more interested in lining their pocketbooks than working to ensure local residents have the tools and opportunities to make ends meet. They pollute the air and water, damaging the climate which causes devastating flooding, fires, and other catastrophes. But finally, the stage is set for Congress to act.
The Inflation Reduction Act is the most significant climate legislation in U.S. history, and will help confront the climate crisis while also lowering costs for the struggling families who’ve been consistently left behind.
“Appalachian communities have suffered from the impacts of toxic pollution and climate-fueled disasters the most, as we are reminded from the floods in Kentucky we’ve seen just this past week,” said Athens Ohio Mayor Steve Patterson.
The Inflation Reduction Act invests $60 billion in these very Appalaichian communities that have been treated as national sacrifice zones. These investments will help the Appalachian communities that have powered this country for generations finally reach their full economic potential and become as vital a part of the clean-energy future as they were of the fossil fuel past.
Now, on the heels of renewed hope for action on climate and jobs, it’s critical that President Biden use every tool at his disposal, including executive action, to reduce carbon emissions and invest in an equitable transition to clean energy, made right here in Appalachia, to preserve a livable planet and thriving, sustainable communities.
Appalachians from West Virginia to Ohio elect leaders expecting them to ensure that everyone has the opportunity and tools to put food on the table, support their families, and stay safe. That is why last year, more than 130 local elected officials came together to endorse the ambitious Appalachian Climate Infrastructure Plan, demanding action from federal officials. The plan calls for a mix of federal funding and private investment to create nearly one half-million stable, meaningful, and family-sustaining jobs, bringing our region into a model 21st century economy.
“So much of the discussion around climate planning and federal infrastructure investment has been driven by the heavily-weighted populations of the East and West Coast,” said Town Councilmember Gabe Peña of Fayetteville, West Virginia. “But we in Appalachia are rising together to lead this national conversation.”
Mayors, council members, and county commissioners who struggle firsthand with the devastating impact of catastrophic weather events, aging infrastructure, failing electric grids, lack of internet access, absentee corporations, and declining tax bases know that all infrastructure is local.
Sharpsburg Pennsylvania Mayor Brittany Reno said, “When communities like Sharpsburg are hit by the impacts of climate change and aging infrastructure, local government bears the brunt of dealing with the problems landing on our doorsteps. But as local elected officials, we are uniquely positioned to understand that the economic, environmental, and public health challenges felt locally are bigger than our municipal borders.”
Throughout 2021, local elected officials from cities like Pittsburgh and Huntington, and villages like Ames and Smithers came together and demanded a seat at the table. Citizen groups like Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Coalition rallied to bring their local electeds to the conversation.
“In the 50 years since the great Agnes flood devastated towns and communities all along the Susquehanna River watershed, we’ve made some progress, and yet we have so much more to do,” said Borough Councilmember Jordi Comas of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. “Whether it’s floods, heat, or other threats to our people and planet, as local officials, we are reminded of how our leaders and public officials have failed us, putting our community in harm’s way. But these are also opportunities to invest in safer and more reliable infrastructure networks. Actual resilience at the local level means more investment now.”
Together, local elected leaders advocated for Congressmembers and U.S. Senators to increase investment in clean manufacturing, expanded broadband access, roads, bridges AND transit electrification, damage clean-up from abandoned mine and oil wells, and job training and apprenticeships for citizens impacted by the opioid crisis and criminal justice system. While continued federal action on equitable investment in a clean energy economy stalls, outdated infrastructure has put an already vulnerable population in greater danger.
“We demand boldness from our leaders in Washington,” said Huntington West Virginia Mayor Steve Williams. “We don’t have to choose between strong climate action, a healthy economy, a robust manufacturing sector, and thriving Appalachian communities. Our greatest challenge can be our greatest opportunity, if our federal officials have the courage and vision to capture this moment. We have no more time to waste. Congress needs to act quickly to pass the Inflation Reduction Act.”
Now Congress must build off the investments from the Inflation Reduction Act and ensure that all people can go from surviving to thriving.