Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) hosted a public meeting today to provide an opportunity for Delawareans and citizens of other East Coast states to comment on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to repeal the federal Clean Power Plan (CPP). I join my fellow citizens in denouncing this destructive plan to assault our health and environment.
Below is my statement from today’s hearing.
Good morning. I am State Representative John Kowalko, 25th District, Newark South.
I want to thank the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control for the opportunity to provide testimony. I am here today to speak out in opposition to any attempt to repeal and weaken the Clean Power Plan.
I know there will be many commenters who will relay the legitimate concerns with the proposed dismantling of the Clean Power Plan by the current Administration in Washington.
I choose, however, to speak from personal experience. I worked for 11 years at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and 25 years at the Delaware City refinery and witnessed the untimely deaths of many of my co-workers from pollution caused cancers and heart attacks. I experienced entire neighborhoods suffering from tainted wells and their children suffering from asthma and other respiratory ailments. I am a husband, father, and grandfather. I am responsible for the health and welfare of nearly 1 million Delaware residents.
I also have asbestosis that I first contracted at the age of 18 during my apprenticeship at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, a government facility. I regularly have CAT scans and an occasional biopsy, but that is history that cannot be changed. When the responsible leaders of our country became fully aware of the threat, they restricted the use of asbestos and regulated its removal and disposal. You only have to turn on your television for half an hour a day to witness the endless commercials from lawyers to understand the horrific health effects and costs of this one product. But we’ve managed to address that problem with strenuous action by elected officials.
When President Nixon created the EPA to hopefully examine and address these threats to our citizens’ health and the nation’s economy, we had a tool to wield needed results.
Dismantling the Clean Power Plan poses grave risks to citizens and communities across Delaware and the United States. Climate deniers and fossil fuel lobbyists have freedom of speech in this country. However, they do not have the right to yell fire in a movie theater, and they do not have the right to endanger my present and our children’s future.
Ignoring air pollution won’t make our country great for kids with asthma or older Americans who struggle to breathe. Ignoring climate change won’t make American families safe from storms powered by oceans that are rising and growing warmer or wildfires fueled by hotter temperatures. When it comes to global warming, President Trump needs to accept the science, recognize the reality, and put the health and well being of Americans first.
I’m sure all of you have an idea of what a “catch-basin” is. Well you should be aware that Delaware is nature’s “Catch-Basin” for much of the foul and polluted air that is produced in other states. Delawareans are more at risk and face a bigger threat to the health of our families and children than other states. The Trump Administration’s attack on common sense and common decency by supporting the big corporations’ fossil fuel investments is an attack on Delaware and all Americans.
You need go no further than to consider the insanity of permitting off-shore drilling to extract more fossil fuel to be turned into a deadly haze that threatens the very existence of mankind to fully appreciate how far we’ve regressed.
I’ve learned to accept my circumstances and predicaments arising from a more ignorant time long passed but I will not stand by silently and allow such an obvious assault on future well-being as posed by dismantling the Clean Power Plan and weakening the EPA.
Representative John Kowalko