At a special West Virginia Day concert, local musicians performed and community leaders spoke. The Mountaineer audience responded by calling for federal investment in WV to address energy, health care, and climate.
Fairmont, WV– On Monday June 20, over 150 Mountaineers attended a concert and barbeque in Fairmont’s East Marion Park to celebrate West Virginia Day and ask the US Congress to support West Virginia with new legislation. The audience rocked to musical performances from Fletcher’s Grove, Emmy of the Mountains, and other local acts in this rousing ‘Jammin’ for Jobs & Justice’ event. Community leaders and concert goers joined together in calling for Senator Joe Manchin and Congress to fulfill their promises by passing a “budget reconciliation bill” that helps West Virginians keep up with the rising cost of living by bringing down the cost of essentials like energy and health care.
“We have a real serious issue here with climate.” said Lakiesha Lloyd, Organizer Fellow with Common Defense. “Now as a veteran I have to sit and watch my brothers and sisters in arms who are serving today have to go and deal with the conflicts that will arise as we fight over resources, over climate refugee crises. Whenever we have a natural disaster in this country, who are the ones that they always call on to come and deal with it?” Lakiesha concluded by urging her senator to take immediate action, saying “We are calling on Senator Manchin to say ‘yes’ to the reconciliation bill.”
“We have earned this,” said Holly Bradley, an organizer for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and CCAN Action Fund, referring to federal investments in West Virginia, “We need major federal investments in our farms, our grid, our healthcare, our air, and our water. We want Congress to pass budget reconciliation right NOW because generations of West Virginians have powered America’s growth, and now it’s time for America to invest back in us. That’s what this June 20 concert is all about.”
The budget reconciliation package currently being debated in Congress would allow medicare to negotiate directly with big pharmaceutical companies, lowering the cost of life saving medicine. It will also bring down energy costs and improve our energy independence by deploying wind and solar energy manufactured in West Virginia. It will make investments to improve grid reliability, improve water treatment infrastructure, reduce stormwater runoff, and much more. The package would also fight inflation by reducing the national deficit by roughly half a trillion dollars.
Community leaders speaking at the event included Carey Jo Grace with the Citizen Action Group, Warren Hilsbos, a community leader in Fairmont, Lakiesha Lloyd with the Common Defense, Kristen Olsen with KISRA, and Teagan Kuzniar, a WVU youth climate activist
“When we experience more severe heat waves and floods, we are all hurting from the impacts of worsening climate change. It’s past time for Congress to act and invest in climate solutions that will both lower energy prices while making our communities more resilient in the face of more frequent and intense weather events,” said Morgan King, climate campaign coordinator with the West Virginia Rivers Coalition.
“West Virginia families are ready to see future minded investments that protect the health of our children and environment. We are counting on Sen Manchin to support the reconciliation package” said Lucia Valentine, an organizer with Moms Clean Air Force
“At the end of the day, June 20th is about celebrating West Virginia. We know how special our state is, and that’s why we invest in it each and every day. We hope Congress will do the same,” said BJ McManama, a local Fairmont resident.
Organizers and attendees are now watching closely to see whether Senator Manchin can deliver for his constituents and get a reconciliation package passed into law. This concert was organized by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, CCAN Action Fund, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, West Virginia Citizen Action Group, Our Future West Virginia, West Virginia Moms Clean Air Force, West Virginia New Jobs Coalition, and the Morgantown Chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby.
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The CCAN Action Fund is the advocacy arm of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For almost 20 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.