Folks in and around Pike County know better than anybody about the significant economic, energy and military impacts that the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon has on households and families around the area.

That is why it is deeply concerning that the US Department of Energy recently issued layoff notices to approximately 500 employees that are working to clean up the Portsmouth plant. Ohio’s economy has been moving in a positive direction over the past few years, but a layoff of this magnitude would be disastrous to our economy statewide and especially in the southern part of the state.

I applaud the Piketon community for being proactive and developing a strategy in collaboration with the Department of Energy for cleaning up the plant, which was scheduled for completion within the next 10 years. All of these efforts are being done in the spirit of benefiting the environment and economy. If the Department of Energy were to lay off nearly a third of the workforce responsible for cleaning up the plant, it would be breaking its commitment it made to the Piketon community in 2009 to accelerate the cleanup.

I stand with Ohio’s congressional delegation, and commend them on the work they have done up to this point, to find a reasonable solution to this problem. Last week, I issued a letter to the directors of the US Department of Energy and the US Office of Management and Budget, urging them to look more carefully at this decision and to work with Ohio’s congressional leaders. At the end of the day, this situation needs to be addressed at the federal level, but it is one that will have local impacts.

Simply stated, it is important that the federal government keep its promise to Piketon by continuing to fully fund the project and not laying off upwards of 500 employees. I strongly encourage local residents to share their opinions and concerns because the consequences of this possible action stretches far beyond Pike County. It impacts much of the economy in southern Ohio. Piketon has kept up its end of the bargain; the federal government needs to do the same.

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