Columbus, OH – Ohio Clinicians for Climate Action (OCCA), an advocacy organization comprised of more than 150 doctors, nurses, and other health professionals across the state, are calling for the immediate repeal of House Bill 6 (HB 6).
Two weeks ago, Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four others were arrested in a $61 million federal racketeering case related to the passage of HB 6 in 2019. From the outset, OCCA was strongly opposed to this legislation, which rolls back Ohio’s clean energy standards and provides taxpayer bailouts to nuclear and coal plants.
Many of Ohio’s health professionals have been concerned about the chilling effect HB 6 has had on Ohio’s transition to a clean and renewable energy economy, ultimately harming our public health by increasing air pollution and contributing to climate change. During the current respiratory pandemic, we are seeing now that air pollution worsens COVID-19 outcomes, which underscores the importance of safeguarding cleaner air for all Ohioans, now and in the future. The OCCA calls on the Ohio legislature to repeal this corruptly passed House Bill 6 and turn its attention to investing in a clean energy future for Ohioans’ health.
“As physicians, we take an oath to do no harm. For me, my colleagues, and members of OCCA, this oath goes beyond treating patients in our clinics and hospitals, and extends to advocating for safe and healthy environments that support the well-being of our patients, their families, and
their communities,” says Aparna Bole, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician in Cleveland and an OCCA Advisory Council member. “As a pediatrician, I know that House Bill 6, as it stands, will harm the health of children in my care. Kids are especially vulnerable to the effect of air pollution which exacerbates chronic lung diseases like asthma, is toxic to the developing brain, and increases the risk of poor birth outcomes. Kids also suffer the most from the health impacts of climate change.”
OCCA is concerned that bailing out coal-fired power plants, while undoing clean energy standards that protect clean air, will be especially detrimental to communities surrounding these power plants. Coal plants emit fine particulate matter and other air pollutants causing health harms for people working and living nearby. The people most vulnerable to the health impacts of poor air quality in these towns are infants and children. William Hardie, MD, a pediatric pulmonologist in Cincinnati and an OCCA Advisory Council member, says, “Ohio’s youngest citizens cannot advocate for themselves. Instead, they rely on government leaders to make fair, unbiased decisions, putting special interest aside to support measures that promote the health and well-being of all Ohioans.”
Dr. Bole further explains, “I see kids in my practice who can’t play outside during some of our summer days because of poor air quality that causes their asthma symptoms to worsen. It is for these kids that I testified at the statehouse to oppose House Bill 6 last year, and it is for these kids and for the health of all Ohioans that I am advocating for this bill to be repealed.”
Ohio Clinicians for Climate Action’s mission is to advocate for climate change solutions that protect the health of our patients and communities. If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Anna Cifranic, OCCA Program Director, at (330) 221-9271 or OCCA@theoec.org.