City leaders, environmental council call for climate priorities from feds

By: - August 25, 2021 12:40 am

Electric vehicles are displayed before a news conference with White House Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images).

With the sound of heavy machinery banging in the background and buses rumbling in front of them, a group of Ohio municipal leaders called on federal representatives to keep climate improvement measures in their funding priorities.

“We’re encouraging Ohio’s congressional delegation to ensure the critical climate action and environmental justice components of the overarching deal remain priorities throughout the process,” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, executive director of the Ohio Environmental Council.

The U.S. Senate passed an infrastructure bill totaling $1.2 trillion, including funding for pollution abatement, public transit, water quality measures and clean energy, which members of the Columbus City Council and the Reynoldsburg City Council say would be a big help for aging sewage lines and fossil fuel-powered school buses in the area.

A White House infrastructure report found that 16% of public transportation vehicles in the state are “past useful life” and the drinking water infrastructure needs billions in additional funding, after a “systemic lack of investment.”

“The action we take literally changes what our children and grandchildren face in the future,” said Columbus City Council President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown.

Prioritizing electric vehicle production in the bill, along with the $73 billion set to be targeted at clean energy funding in the infrastructure bill, would plan for that better future leaders say should be ahead of anything else in the congressional priorities.

“Water issues, if neglected, will certainly make their importance felt one way or another,” said Shanette Strickland, a Reynoldsburg councilmember.

In announcing July awards for water and wastewater infrastructure programs in Ohio, the state also said about 31% of all household sewage treatment systems in Ohio “are experiencing some degree of failure and are discharging untreated sewage that potentially exposes citizens to harmful bacteria and pathogens.”

Later on Tuesday, the U.S. House passed a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint, which allows them too start on budget reconciliation and push toward the infrastructure funding.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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