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Sharing information on pandemic

By A. Donald McEachin

Last month, I hosted a Tri-Cities tele-town hall with Delegate Lashrecse Aird and Dr. Katrina Sephrey, an epidemiologist with the Crater Health District. We were able to share information on access to vaccines as well as up-to-date statistics on the pandemic. Constituents asked many questions on all kinds of issues, and I was glad to be able to provide responses and assistance.  If you missed this one, I will be having other constituent-focused events soon.

I also hosted an informational session for students interested in attending one of the U.S. Service Academies with Representatives Luria, Wittman and Scott. This was an opportunity for these high schoolers to hear from representatives of the U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and U.S. Coast Guard Academy, who described the admissions process for each of their academies and took questions. For students who are interested in attending a service academy, the application process is arduous, so we were happy to have the opportunity to ease concerns and respond to questions. I’m eager to see this year’s applicants from our congressional district.

The pandemic has caused many people to struggle with rent. Therefore, I want to make sure that constituents know that some assistance may be available. Please check this website for more information about how to receive help: www.dhcd.virginia.gov/rrp.

With the income tax return deadline just a few weeks ago, many people are wondering about the status of their return. You can find out if your return has been received, if the refund is approved and if your refund has been sent here: www.irs.gov/refunds. Also, if you have not yet received your payment from the most recent COVID Relief legislation (the American Recovery Act), this link can help find the status of your payment: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment.

This past month, I presented my Offshore Accountability Act (H. R. 570) to a subcommittee of the Natural Resources Committee. This legislation would require that offshore oil and drilling operators report critical problems and mishaps to the Secretary of the Interior.

This bill is important because we need to expeditiously move away from fossil fuels and from offshore drilling. Drilling in our coastal waters risks accidents that destroy flora and fauna, potentially puts workers’ lives at risk and can be detrimental to coastal communities. Moreover, with the climate crisis, we must accelerate the use of renewable energy sources. This legislation is a step in that direction by at least requiring the reporting of system failure and problems. No longer will oil and gas companies be able to hide issues or keep the public from knowing when serious concerns arise. Even as we move to renewable energy, we need to shine a bright light on potential dangers and accidents in fossil fuel drilling.

Congressman Donald McEachin represents Virginia’s 4th Congressional District.