This Earth Day, CORR organizer and seventh-generation Ohio Valley resident Jill Antares Hunkler made history by testifying alongside internationally renowned youth climate activist Greta Thunberg in the first ever congressional hearing on the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies. Hunkler told the House Subcommittee on the Environment, "continuing to subsidize the fossil fuel industry will not only perpetuate the climate crisis, but the plastics pollution, environmental justice and public health crises, as well."
[Click play to watch a recording of Jill's testimony.]
The hearing, which uncovered the dire health and economic impacts of fossil fuel subsidies featured Jill, a resident of Belmont County, Ohio displaced by fracking development; Thunberg, founder of Fridays for Future; Tara Houska, founder of Giniw Collective; Joseph Aldy, a professor of public policy at Harvard University; and Peter Erickson, Climate Policy Program Director at the Stockholm Environment Institute.
Jill described to the Committee how she was forced from her home at the headwaters of the historically pristine Captina Creek Watershed by oil and gas infrastructure and pollution from a compressor station, 78 fracking wells, a transfer station and an interstate pipeline with numerous gathering pipelines, all within a five-mile radius of her home.
In response to a question from Representative Rashida Tlaib, Jill recounted the health problems she suffered as a result of fossil fuel development. "The negative health impacts we experienced were too much to bear,” she said. “First, we noticed the odors and had nose, eye, and throat irritation, as well as headaches. The symptoms worsened over time with nausea, vertigo, rashes, mental confusion, disorientation, numbness, and body aches and pains. True wealth is good health, and our health and happiness suffered as long as we stayed in the hollow.”
Thunberg, who spoke shortly after Jill, told the subcommittee it’s “a disgrace” that fossil fuels are still being supported with tax money and “proof that we have not understood the climate emergency at all. How long do you think you can continue ignoring the climate crisis without being held accountable?" she asked.