The Skywriter

Ohioans rally to protect the Clean Air Act


Ohioans rally to protect the Clean Air Act

Ohio Rally

We are in the middle of a battle for power. On one side, we have the money of corporate polluters, and their front groups like the US Chamber of Commerce, and on the other side we have the people power of everyday Americans who want their elected leaders to represent their constituents instead of their donors. In 2010, those big polluters launched one heck of a battle cry with $500 million in lobbying and attack ads flooding our political process.

What's a climate activist without $500 million in their pocket to do? Hit the streets! And hit the streets we did. Across the country, climate activists from Washington to Florida, from Colorado to Michigan all hit the streets to call for the protection of the Clean Air Act.

One state, however, had a more specific axe to grind. In Ohio, Senator Sherrod Brown announced mere hours before a planned action supporting him that he was calling on President Obama to consider compromising on the Clean Air Act.

Volunteer Brian Kunkemoeller gives us the lay of the land:

Ohio is a not just a swing state, it's a battleground. When Ohio votes one way, it tends to make a winner.

Cincinnati, Ohio has one of the flip-floppiest histories of policy you'll ever see. An attraction here is the underground ruins of a half-built subway which had its funding pulled mid-construction because our elected city council wanted it and... then, they didn't.

Sherrod Brown suddenly seems to personify this Ohio-ism and is stumbling in his support of the Clean Air Act. Monday morning, he wrote to President Obama asking him to consider the economic implications of enforcing the CAA.

Students, educators, public workers, small business owners, urban farmers, techies, a religious worker, Greenpeace, the Ohio Student Environmental Coalition, and 1Sky volunteers made up the crowd that rallied Monday. The message was clear: we can't afford to lose our clean air. The crowd speculated about which special interest has Brown suddenly backing the corporate polluters.

'What do we want? Clean Air. When do we want it? NOW!'

At the end of the rally, a group dropped in to the office. They were able to meet with one of Brown's staffers, and discuss the implications of his vote. A letter, signed during the rally, was given to her to be delivered to Mr. Brown just before he votes this week."

Danny Berchenko, another volunteer on the ground, explains why they were moved to act:

We weren’t about to sit idly by while fossil fuel lobbyists on the Hill pumped their dirty-air agenda through Congress, into our atmosphere, and into our lungs.

We rallied to remind our senator, who’s stood with us so many times before on issues of public health and the future, that we need his leadership now more than ever—that we need him to be our champion in protecting our Clean Air Act.

Senator Brown, we Cincinnatians and other Ohioans will keep knocking on your door, we’ll keep sending letters, and we’ll keep making our voices heard until you come back to us and be our champion in protecting our rights to clean air and a clean energy future!"

Let's be honest, none of us want to see carbon pollution, lead, arsenic, and mercury pumping through our neighborhoods from the local coal plant. Let's all take a page from Ohio's book and stand up and be heard. Exercise that other kind of power: the power of people, the power of voting, the power of having our voice heard.

Corporate influence in politics is out of control. On Monday, Ohioans stood up and said enough is enough. Thanks for showing us how it's done, Ohio.

Brian Kunkemoeller is a 1Sky volunteer based in Cincinatti, OH. His interest in working for a more sustainable world was kindled while Studying Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Cincinnati. He has been involved in several local and national environmental initiatives as well as keeping Ohio in the climate loop through his blog.
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