Clean water advocate calls State of the Union ‘surreal’

February 06, 2019

ORTSMOUTH -- Environmental activist Andrea Amico could not have had a better view of Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.

“I was up in the gallery directly in front of President Trump. I got to see him kind of head-on,” Amico said Wednesday evening after flying home from Washington, D.C. “The first lady was off to the right of me, not directly near me but I could clearly see her and Ivanka (Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump.)”

The Portsmouth mother attended the State of the Union address as the special guest of U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., to highlight the importance of PFAS contamination issues.

Amico co-founded Testing for Pease and has advocated for years for state and federal environmental regulators to set more protective measures to protect people from PFAS exposure, like the one at the former Pease Air Force Base.

Two of her children and her husband drank water from a contaminated city-owned well at the Pease International Tradeport before it was shut down.

Amico described the State of the Union as “surreal.”

Guests weren’t allowed to take their phones or cameras into the chamber, but that allowed Amico to “just be in the moment, just really take it in.”

“There was a lot of energy in the room. The lights were so incredibly bright ... and I got to see the Supreme Court justices, all the senators, and all the leaders of our government,” Amico said. “Just seeing all those people in one place was incredibly surreal.”

She was also “incredibly pleased to hear President Trump mention pediatric cancer research.”

Trump called for spending more money on pediatric cancer research.

“Obviously that’s an issue that’s very important to our community with the pediatric cancer cluster,” Amico said. “I was disappointed there was no talk of addressing the environmental issues that could be causing the cancers.”

She called the decision by many Democratic congresswomen to wear white to show support for women’s rights was “really inspirational.”

“Because I was sitting above it ... I could see just how many of them dressed in white,” Amico said. “I think it helped send a message to women that we can do anything, we are great leaders and we are capable of serving our government and solving problems in our community.”

“It brings hope and inspiration to women of all ages,” she added.

As much as she enjoyed the State of the Union, Amico’s favorite part of the night was attending a Senate dinner with Shaheen.

“Senator Shaheen was absolutely an incredible host. I enjoyed so much having dinner with her,” Amico said. “She introduced me to so many other senators and it was nice to see members of the government where you could talk to them in a more relaxed setting.”

Shaheen introduced her to former Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, and current presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York.

“Almost every single senator I met had issues with PFAS in their state and could relate to the work I was doing,” Amico said. “Sen. Gillibrand said they have a serious PFAS issue in her state.”

Amico called the experience “absolutely incredible” and added that she was stunned by the beauty of the Capitol building, where she joined Shaheen for dinner.

“The architecture of the building and the chandeliers and the marble floors and rooms were absolutely breathtaking,” Amico said. “It was like nothing I could have imagined without seeing it.”

By:  Jeff McMenemy
Source: Seacoast Online