When in a group of people whose passions are aligned, community becomes powerful. Last week, communities of parents met to share their passion for clean air and advocacy across our nation — Mama Summits that were held in California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and virtually. The results were powerful for both the participants and political leaders.
I was fortunate enough to meet with MCAF staffers and supporters for a full day at the Ohio Statehouse. As it happened, we were in Columbus while Ohio senate was voting on the new bill SB 310, which was introduced by Senator Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville). This bill would put a freeze on the progress Ohio has made toward becoming a renewable energy state. Currently, Ohio’s energy standards are outlined in SB 221, which was established in 2008. These standards allow Ohio to generate 25% of our electricity through renewable resources such as wind and solar, and to draw from them for a subsequent 25 years. The goal is to ultimately reduce Ohio’s overall energy consumption by 22% by the end of those years.
Our purpose at the Ohio Mama Summit was to garner meetings with our elected officials and remind them that Ohio citizens have saved money and gained jobs because of SB 221. I feel strongly that now is not the time to risk losing the progress we’ve already made!
My morning began early with at meeting at Riffe Center in Representative Mark Romanchuk’s office. Representative Romanchuk is from the small town next to mine, but I was unsure of how my meeting would go because there is a great divide in my area on matters of our environment. I was pleased that Representative Romanchuk listened, looked through the packet of information I presented him, and asked questions that made me dig deep before responding.
There’s no reset button on our atmosphere, and we can never fully experience the clear air of our forefathers who founded this country, but we can fight against future damage. We can set the example for other countries to follow. We can demand action for our children’s future.
As I type this, Representative Romanchuk is in hearings for SB 310. As we walked down to our meeting on Wednesday morning, he informed me that there is already an alternative bill in the works in the event SB 310 should not pass. To that I say, big energy isn’t going to let this go, so neither should we.
Following my meeting, I headed to a press conference where I had the honor of hearing from Molly Rauch (Moms Clean Air Force), Sandy Oxley (Voices for Ohio’s Children), Joan Spoerl (Beyond Pesticides Ohio) and Representative Tracy Maxwell Heard (D- Columbus).
As a mom of young children, I teared up when Rep Heard said, “When citizens ‘check out’ or feel disenfranchised, that’s when things slip under the radar that later affect us, therefore show up and get involved!” and when Joan Spoerl echoed the importance of clean energy, “When a state invests in clean and sustainable energy sources and energy efficiency programs, there is a corresponding reduction in harmful emission, giving us all healthier air and reducing asthma and lung disease for our kids.”
The Ohio Mama Summit was such an exciting, empowering and enlightening day of community service. And this is exactly why I joined Moms Clean Air Force a few years ago — to have my parental voice heard. I urge you to talk to your community, get your friends involved and let your Senators and Representatives know that you are watching and you care!