The State of the Union is set for Tuesday night, after being delayed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during the partial government shutdown and several lawmakers from the Capital Region are bringing guests with a common thread.
Congressman Anthony Delgado's guest is Michael Hickey of Hoosick Falls, who led the charge on PFOAs in the local water supply. It’s an ongoing battle in the community and with the EPA.
"He has a very large district, so for anybody to be acknowledged from Hoosick Falls or Petersburg and he had a lot of choices that he could've taken there are a lot of people who have advocated on this issue for a long time," Hickey said. "So for him to choose me, it's an absolute honor."
Rep. Delgado issued a statement on Monday about the invitation:
"I’ve seen personally the devastating effects that PFOA chemicals have had on our communities and on families like Michael Hickey’s. He is a true hero in what he has done to create action, and I’m pleased he will join me for the State of the Union as we send a powerful message that this crisis cannot be ignored. I am committed to working with members on both sides of the aisle to take decisive steps to address water contamination. And I will be a strong voice urging the Administration to step up its efforts to protect the health and safety of communities in Upstate New York and across the country."
Hickey said during his visit he hopes to bring the lack of the regulation for water contaminants to the President's attention.
"I think it brings additional needed awareness. It's a great thing,"Hickey said. "It's bad to be in this situation, but it's also exciting to have a politician [like Rep. Delgado] push the issue forward."
Congressman Paul Tonko's guest Gene Karpinski is the president of the League of Conservation Voters but is also a leading voice on climate change and environmental advocacy.
"He's an outstanding voice, a very powerful voice that leads the struggle against climate change," Tonko said.
Tonko says it's no mistake so many lawmakers chose activists in environmental activism.
“What we need is to have exuberance when it comes to our stewardship of our environment and when we see leadership of the country taking us backward rather than forward when we deny the very basics of decades worth of investment in our environment,” said Tonko. “It's troublesome.”
Other lawmakers from across the country, including New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee, whose district includes Flint, also are bringing advocates who are fighting against water contamination.
"All these people have experienced locally, some very heavy impacts to public health, endangerment to children, to families, the cost of infrastructure for our water infrastructure is enormous," Tonko said. "We think that Washington should be a stronger partner."