Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Aircraft Endanger Public Health and Welfare

July 23, 2015

On June 10, 2015, Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law firm, issued an announcement on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) finding that greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft endanger the public health and welfare of current and future generations. Per Earthjustice, "The EPA's Endangerment Finding confirms that aircraft are a significant source of climate pollution, emitting approximately 700 million metric tonnes per year. This makes global aviation, if it were equivalent to a country, the 7th largest global emitter, just below Germany and more than Korea and Canada."[1]

As noted by one of the petitioners, Friends of the Earth,

"Aviation accounts for about 11 percent of carbon dioxide pollution from the U.S. transportation sector and is one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon pollution, rising three to five percent a year. Carbon emissions from global aviation will quadruple by mid-century without action."[2]

After an extensive review of the scientific literature on the effects of global warming the EPA concluded that "children will be disproportionately impacted by climate change..Impacts to children are expected from heat waves, air pollution, infectious and waterborne illnesses, and mental health effects resulting from extreme weather events. In addition, the assessments find that climate change will influence production of pollen that affects asthma and other allergic respiratory diseases, to which children are among those especially susceptible."[3]

The EPA also identified climate change as an 'environmental justice' issue which disproportionately impacts other vulnerable groups including elderly, poor, and low-income populations as well as "some populations defined jointly by ethnic/racial characteristics and geographic location."[4]

Though thankful for the endangerment finding, the petitioners expressed disappointment in the EPA's decision to hand off responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the agency supposedly responsible since 1997 for reducing greenhouse gases from aircraft.

According to a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity:

"In the last 18 years, the ICAO has not adopted any measure to curb aircraft-induced global warming. The organization has rejected, in turn, efficiency standards, fuel taxes, emissions charges and global emissions trading. Despite the ICAO's failure to act, the EPA intends to wait to see if the ICAO will finally propose emission standards in 2016."[5]

Members of the public have until 8/31/15 to submit formal comments on the EPA's Proposed Finding That Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Aircraft Cause or Contribute to Air Pollution That May Reasonably Be Anticipated to Endanger Public Health and Welfare and Advance Notice of Public Rulemaking. (Federal Register Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2014-0828). Additional information on this matter is available at the US Federal Register website.

Sources

[1] EPA: Carbon Pollution Endangers Public Health, Must Be Controlled. Earthjustice website. (6/10/15).

[2] Conservation Groups Launch Legal Challenge to Cut Carbon Pollution from Aircraft. Friends of the Earth website. (8/5/14).

[3] Proposed Finding That Greenhouse Gas Emissions >From Aircraft Cause or Contribute to Air Pollution That May Reasonably Be Anticipated To Endanger Public Health and Welfare and Advance Notice of Proposal Rulemaking: A Proposed Rule by the Environmental Protection Agency. Federal Register Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2014-0828. (7/1/15).

[4] Ibid.

[5] EPA Finds Airplane Pollution Endangers Climate, Fails to Curb Emissions. Center for Biological Diversity. (6/5/15).


Related articles on this topic:

Holthaus. Eric. Just Plane Wrong: Global aviation is the fastest-growing cause of climate change. And the EPA might let it off the hook. Slate. (6/4/15).

McDonnell, Tim. Here's Why Obama Is Cracking Down on Airplane Pollution: On a plane? Enjoy the view of the planet you're killing! Mother Jones. (6/5/15).

Protestors Oppose London's Heathrow Airport Expansion

July 20, 2015

Below is an excerpt from a 7/13/15 EcoWatch article on actions by the group Plane Stupid, in opposition to a third runway at the Heathrow Airport.

Plane Stupid provided the following reasons for protesting this expansion:

  • We cannot meet our climate change targets and build new runways at the same time. It's a choice between the two. This should be very simple to understand.
  • We already fly more than any other country per head.
  • Nine of the ten most popular destinations out of Heathrow are short-haul including to places such as Manchester and Paris. There are already very good existing rail alternatives that we should be using instead.
  • 15 percent of the UK population take 70 percent of the flights. Building new runways will only benefit rich frequent flyers who are burning the planet for unnecessary leisure flights.
  • Airport expansion will have terrible implications for noise pollution and air pollution.
  • Local communities face being wiped off the map entirely by a third runway at Heathrow.
  • Aviation gets huge tax subsidies and pays no VAT. Why are we propping up an industry which is highly damaging to the environment at the exact time we need to be reducing our carbon emissions?
  • The huge advertising budgets of the aviation industry have tricked the public into believing we face an airport capacity crisis. Additionally, the employment benefits of expansion have been overplayed. Claims that airport expansion will create thousands of new jobs are based on unreliable statistics. Airport expansion actually results in more UK tourists going abroad, which creates a 'tourism deficit.'

To access the full report click on the following link - 13 Flights Cancelled, 9 People Arrested as Climate Activists Protest Runway Expansion

LA City Council Member Advocates For Closure of Santa Monica Airport

July 17, 2015

Los Angeles City Council member Michael Bonin recently launched a petition calling for the closure of the Santa Monica Airport (SMO), a general aviation facility that logs around 100,000 annual operations, primarily private jets and propeller flight training aircraft. The City of Santa Monica, which owns and operates the airport, prohibits helicopter training at this facility. The noise, pollution, and safety risks associated with this airport have been a source of conflict and controversy for decades. Many airport neighbors and other negatively impacted residents would like would like to transform the airport property into a public park.

As stated in the petition:

“SMO today is an airport that is out of its time period, and completely incompatible with the residential neighborhoods that have grown around its borders.”

Click here To access the Federal Aviation Administration: Put Neighborhoods First petition.

Flight Instructor and Student Pilot Who Died in Newberg Helicopter Crash Identified

July 6, 2015

The student pilot and flight instructor who tragically perished during a 7/1/15 helicopter accident near Newberg, Oregon, in what was described as a routine night-time training flight, have been identified. According to an Oregonian article by Kelly House, the Precision Aviation flight instructor was Anthony Gallerani. The student pilot, Kristian Blackwell, was enrolled at the Klamath Community College (KCC) aviation sciences program. However, the president of the college reported that night-time training was not a part of the curriculum. The report further noted that KCC announced plans to temporarily suspend all flights while the crash is under investigation by the FAA. The full article is available at Man killed in Newberg helicopter crash identified as Klamath Community College Student.

The report cited above stated that according to Precision managing director, David Rath, "Precision Aviation had not had a crash in 32 years of operation."

Rath's statement conflicts with information found in the National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Database which lists multiple accidents associated with Precision Aviation, Precision Helicopters, and/or the Chehalem Airpark.[1] Please note, according to their website "Chehalem Airpark is a public use airport owned and operated by Precision Aviation."[2] See Chehalem Airpark Accident History for more information on this topic.

Increased Risk Posed by Night-time Flying

Aviation industry documentation cites a number of reasons for the heightened risk posed by night-time flying including, but not limited to, reduced visibility, increased spatial disorientation, and fatigue.[3] Per a 2012 Plane & Pilot article,

"Accident statistics suggest that flying by night accounts for about 10% of the general aviation accidents, but 30% of the fatalities. That suggests night flying must be inherently more dangerous than aviating when the sun is up. The rules for night flying are more stringent in many countries than they are in the U.S., apparently in recognition of an increased level of risk."[4]

Sources

[1] Aviation Accident Database and Synopsis. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Available on-line at http://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/index.aspx.
[2] Precision website. Available on-line at http://www.flyprecision.com/about/.
[3] Trescott, Max. Night Flying Safety. AVweb. (11/6/05). Available on-line at http://www.avweb.com/news/airman/190849-1.html.
[4] Cox, Bill. Twenty Things You May Not Know About Night Flying. Plane & Pilot: Aircraft Mechanic School. (5/22/12). Available on-line at http://www.planeandpilotmag.com/proficiency/flight-training/20-things-you-may-not-know-about-night-flying.html?start=1#.VZrF7xtVhHw.

Student Pilot and Flight Instructor Die in Helicopter Crash Near the Chehalem Airpark

July 2, 2015

Two people, a flight instructor and a student pilot, died on July 2, 2015, when the helicopter they were piloting crashed in a field during a "routine night training flight." The aircraft was registered to Precision Aviation, a flight training school based at the Chehalem Airpark in Newberg, Oregon.

Chehalem Airpark is located approximately 14 miles southwest of the Hillsboro Airport and within a few miles of Stark's Twin Oaks Airpark. It is also in close proximity to the McMinnville Airport and Sportsman Airpark. All are flight training airports with a significant accident history, some fatal. A number of the accidents involve student pilot instructional flights.

Click on the following link for an article on the Newberg helicopter accident by Oregonian/OregonLive reporter Stuart Tomlinson: http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2015/07/helicopter_student_pilot_instr.html.

See http://koin.com/2015/07/02/2-killed-in-newberg-ore-helicopter-crash/ for a KOIN TV report.

See http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/07/02/oregon-helicopter-crash/29606261/ for a USA Today report.

Chehalem Airpark Accident History

According to the Aviation Accident Database and Synopsis section of the National Transportation Safety Board, there have been a number of other accidents associated with aircraft arriving and landing at the Chehalem Airpark including but not limited to those bulleted below.

  • On 11/21/07 a student pilot was seriously injured during a Precision Helicopter training flight. The aircraft reportedly lost power 7-8 miles from the airport.
  • During a 6/26/03 flight, the pilot of an amateur built experimental aircraft was fatally injured during a plane crash near the Chehalem Airpark. The pilot had been performing a number of high speed taxi maneuvers just prior to the accident.
  • On 8/19/02 an aircraft sustained damage when it veered off the runway during a landing at the Chehalem Airpark. In this case neither the pilot or flight instructor on board sustained injuries. The flight originated from Stark's Twin Oaks Airpark.
  • On 9/23/00 during final approach at the Chehalem Airpark, a flight instructor and student pilot were seriously injured when the aircraft they were piloting collided with a dump truck traveling on a county road.
  • On 7/19/97 the passenger of a helicopter operated by Precision Helicopters sustained minor injuries during a forced landing.

Applebee Aviation, Aerial Spraying and Toxic Exposure

By Miki Barnes, LCSW
May 29, 2015

A 5/20/15 Oregonian article by Rob Davis sheds light on the serious health threat posed by reckless aerial spraying. In this case, “Darryl Ivy, a truck driver for Applebee Aviation, repeatedly took shelter in his truck to avoid being sprayed with weed killers from a helicopter.” Ivy provided more than 200 phone videos documenting his experience. After being exposed to these toxins, Ivy developed persistent respiratory symptoms and started coughing up blood. He was later diagnosed with acute chemical exposure and acute contact dermatitis.[1]

Applebee Aviation (AAI) located in Buxton, Oregon is owned by Mike Applebee. According to the company website, “AAI invests in state of the art application equipment allowing them to accurately and efficiently apply the product needed while making as little negative impact to the environment as possible.”[2] However, the Oregonian report referenced above suggests otherwise.

“Applebee pilots have sprayed illegally before, Agriculture Department enforcement records show. An Applebee pilot doused a Hillsboro cyclist with an insecticide in 2010 but was not fined, state records show. The company was found in violation as well, but wasn't fined either. Last year, state records show, another Applebee pilot allowed weed killers to drift 400 feet into a neighbor's front yard during a Seneca Jones spray operation in Douglas County. Several people complained of being sickened. The pilot and the company were each penalized $407. The pilot could have gotten a bigger fine for driving 36 mph in a 25 mph zone.”[1]

To address the concerns of residents negatively impacted by chemical exposure resulting from aerial spraying, Oregon Senator Michael Dembrow and Representative Ann Lininger introduced Senate Bill 613 (SB 613). Per Oregonian reporter, Rob Davis, SB 613 included three key provisions:

"1. The state Board of Forestry would be required to set protective no-spray buffers around homes and schools. None exist today.
2. Timber companies would have to notify neighbors before spraying. Today, neighbors often must listen for approaching helicopters as their only warning.
3. Timber companies would have to disclose what and where they sprayed. Currently, companies must maintain those records and turn them over to the state only on request."[3]

Unfortunately the efforts of Dembrow and Lininger were undermined by fellow Democrats in key positions whose ties to the timber and chemical sector far exceeded their commitment to the environment as well as the health and well being of the community. Two of the major players who were influential in assuring that SB 613 fell by the wayside were recipients of generous campaign contributions from the industries in question. Brad Witt, a state representative from Clatskanie received $50,000 from timber and chemical special interests. Since 2006, the Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee, Chris Edwards, has been the recipient of more than $25,000 from the timber industry. Salem Democratic Senator, Brian Clem also blocked efforts to protect residents from aerial spraying.[3]

Federal Regulations on Hazardous Aerial Spraying of Persons or Properties on the Ground

Yet regardless of the failure of the Oregon legislature to develop safeguards to protect Oregon residents, there do appear to be federal standards. Whether or not they are enforced is another question entirely. Federal Aviation Regulation (FAA) Part 137.35 states, “No persons may dispense, or cause to be dispensed, from an aircraft, any material or substance in a manner that creates a hazard to persons or property on the surface.”[4]

Advisory Circular 137-1A, which explains the certification process for agricultural aircraft operations, further elaborates on this issue:

(2) The pilot should brief the groundcrew concerning the chemical being used and the necessary protective clothing. The protective equipment (rubber gloves, apron, boots, respirator, etc.) should be tailored to the environment and particular chemical in use. When using flaggers, pilots should be able to brief them concerning the potential hazard of the pesticide being dispensed, and should indicate that they equip themselves with the appropriate protective equipment. (3) Pilots should also be aware that persons working closely with or handling pesticides should change clothes and bathe at the end of the operation, or immediately if the pesticide contacts their skin. Persons handling pesticides should wear clean work clothes daily.[5]

As noted by Davis in the 5/20/15 Oregonian article, “If such chemicals land on workers' clothes, they're supposed to take them off and wash their skin for 15 minutes. Ivy said he was never told that. He wore the same clothes for three days before realizing that might be the reason his skin felt itchy.”[1]

According to Chapter 1 of Advisory Circular 137-1A, before being approved for certification, applicants are expected to demonstrate a knowledge of the rules and regulations pertaining to the handling of “economic poisons.” Chapter 1 also addresses recordkeeping requirements as well as the reasons for revoking certification including “unsafe operating procedures or practices.” [6]

Applebee Aviation Helicopter Accidents

In addition to aerial pesticide violations there have been a number of accidents linked to helicopters registered to Applebee Aviation. See the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) aviation query site for details:[7]

  • On 7/23/14 a pilot died while involved in a helicopter agricultural operation in Wenatchee, Washington.
  • On 11/14/11 a pilot sustained serious injuries while loading Christmas trees in Woodburn, Oregon.
  • On 7/12/11 a helicopter crashed during an agricultural operation in Wenatchee, Washington.
  • On 6/23/10 a helicopter crashed during an aerial application flight in Rickreall, Oregon.
  • On 5/19/06 a helicopter with a flight instructor and student pilot on board sustained serious damage during a training flight at the Skyport Airpark, a private facility in Cornelius, Oregon.

For additional information on this issue see Toxic Pesticides Released During Aerial Spraying.

Other Applebee Aviation Violations

In addition to aerial spraying violations and helicopter accidents, Applebee Aviation has been issued a number of citations related to his aviation business activities at the Apple Valley Airport in Buxton, Oregon - a property zoned for Exclusive Farm Use. Despite existing land use restrictions, Mike Applebee, the owner of the facility, attempted to run a commercial flight training business at this airstrip. His multiple infractions prompted impacted residents to invest more than $150,000 in legal expenses to protect themselves from these illegal activities. In the end, Applebee was forced to terminate all commercial flight training activity at the Apple Valley Airport.

Contact Local, State, and Federal Elected Representatives

Please contact your elected representatives to request that legislative safeguards be established to protect Oregonians from dangerous and “economic poison” exposure as well as the toxic political climate that allows illegal aerial spraying practices to occur. Those found to be in violation of their agricultural aircraft certification commitments should be held fully accountable.

Sources

[1] Davis, Rob. Whistleblower Videos Reveal Helicopter Spraying Workers with Weed Killers. Oregonian./OregonLive. (5/20/15). Available on-line at http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2015/05/whistleblower_videos_reveal_he.html#incart_special-report

[2] Applebee Aviation Inc. (AAI) website. About Us - Our Commitment. Available on-line at http://www.applebeeaviation.com/about/. Last accessed on 5/28/15.

[3] Davis, Rob. How Average Oregonians Challenged the Timber Industry - And Lost. Oregonian/OregonLive. (4/27/15). Available on-line at http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2015/04/how_average_oregonians_challen.html.

[4] Title 14: Aeronautics and Space. Part 137 - Agricultural Aircraft Operations. Subpart C - Operating 137.37 Manner of Dispensing. Subpart C - Operating Rules. U.S. Government Publishing Office. (Current as of 5/26/15). Available on-line at http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=78672cbdfb33bcf538a462c581407602&mc=true&node=se14.3.137_137&rgn=div8.

[5] Certification Process for Agricultural Aircraft Operations. FAA Advisory Circular/AC 137. Available on-line at http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/AC137-1A.pdf (Chapter 2-2, n 2-3).

[6] Certification Process for Agricultural Aircraft Operations. FAA Advisory Circular/AC 137. Available on-line at http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/AC137-1A.pdf (Chapter 1-8, pg. 17).

[7] Aviation Accident and Database Synopses. National Transportation Safety Board. Available on-line at http://ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/index.aspx.

OAW Endorses Testimony in Support of Removing Lead from Aviation Fuel

May 15, 2015

Oregon Aviation Watch endorses the testimony submitted in support of Senate Joint Memorial 1 (SJM 1). The slide presentation was submitted to the Oregon Senate Committee on Transportation and Economic Development on 4/15/15.

See Testimony in Support of SJM 1 to view the slide presentation.

As noted in the testimony, Oregon Aviation Watch appreciates the acknowledgment in SJM 1 that:

  • The operation of general aviation aircraft is the greatest source of lead emissions in Oregon
  • Children are especially susceptible to the toxic effects of lead, and that exposure to lead can lead to irreversible brain damage and reduce a persons cognitive function
  • Exposure to low levels of lead early in life has been linked to effects on a persons intelligence quotient, learning, memory and behavior
  • There is no safe level of exposure to lead.

In light of these serious health impacts, we appreciate SJM 1's support for prioritizing the development and certification of unleaded aviation fuel in advance of 2018.

The full text of SJM 1 is available at https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2015R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/SJM1.

Oregon Environmental Council Submits Testimony in Support of Unleaded Aviation Fuel

April 18, 2015

Attached is testimony submitted by the Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) expressing support for Senate Joint Memorial 1. A hearing on this memorial took place on Wednesday, April 15 at 1:00 pm in the Senate Business & Transportation Committee https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2015R1/Committees/SBT/2015-04-15-13-00/Agenda.

Below is an excerpt from the OEC testimony. See OEC Testimony for the full submission.

“Oregon Environmental Council supports SJM 1, which signals the Oregon Legislature's support for the Federal Aviation Administrations initiative to certify safe unleaded aviation fuel for piston engine aircraft and encourages the Federal Aviation Administration and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prioritize the development and certification of unleaded aviation fuel in advance of 2018.

Aviation gasoline used to power piston engine aircraft is the single largest source of lead emission in the U.S. and poses a significant threat to public health and the environment. Despite the phase-out of lead in automobile fuel almost 20 years ago, nearly 500 tons of airborne lead is still emitted annually from aviation gasoline. As the only remaining lead-containing transportation fuel, aviation gasoline directly contributes to lead exposures, which are particularly detrimental to children. The Centers for Disease Control has confirmed that no blood level of lead is safe in children; even low levels of this known neurotoxin have been shown to permanently affect children's IQ and ability to pay attention, which also impacts their academic achievement.”

Oregon Aviation Watch extends our gratitude to OEC for submitting this testimony and to the following sponsors of SJM 1:

Senators:
Michael Dembrow, Diane Rosenbaum, and Elizabeth Steiner Hayward
Representatives:
Mitch Greenlick, Phil Barnhart, Peter Buckley, Lew Fredrick, Alissa Keny-Guyer, Jeff Reardon, Barbara Smith Warner, and Jessica Vega Pederson.

OAW urges members of the public to submit testimony in support of this effort to their elected representatives and to the Senate Business and Transportation Committee. The text of SJM 1 can be accessed at https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2015R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/SJM1/Introduced.

Members of the Senate Business and Transportation Committee are:

Senator Lee Beyer:
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1706, Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-419, Salem, Oregon 97301, Email: Sen.LeeBeyer@state.or.us.
Senator Rod Monroe:
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1724 District Phone: 503-760-4310, Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-409, Salem, Oregon 97301 District Address: 7802 SE 111th Avenue, Portland, OR 97266, Email: Sen.RodMonroe@state.or.us.
Senator Chuck Riley:
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1715, Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-303, Salem, Oregon 97301, Email: sen.chuckriley@state.or.us.
Senator Chuck Thomsen:
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1726, Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-316, Salem, Oregon 97301, Email: Sen.ChuckThomsen@state.or.us.
Senator Fred Girod:
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1709, Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-401, Salem, Oregon 97301, Email: Sen.FredGirod@state.or.us.

Hillsboro Airport - New Runway - TV Clip from KOIN

By Miki Barnes, LCSW
April 7, 2015

Below is a link to a 4/6/15 article and TV clip by KOIN TV Channel 6 reporter, Lisa Balick, on the third runway expansion at the Hillsboro Airport (HIO). Per the report, the new runway is expected to open in a few weeks. The Port of Portland and the Federal Aviation Administration chose to construct this runway despite neighborhood opposition including a challenge in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Watch video: New Airport Runway Causes Rift in Hillsboro

Oregon Aviation Watch Appealing Third Runway

In the 84 years during which HIO has grown from a grassy airstrip into the largest general aviation airport in the state of Oregon, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Port of Portland have never taken a hard look or engaged in a thorough and comprehensive investigation of the environmental impacts of this facility by completing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). As a result the full impact of HIO, which accommodates the largest flight training school in the Pacific Northwest, has not been evaluated.

HIO is a major Washington County facility source of lead, PM 2.5, ethyl benzene and a number of other air toxins. Many are known or suspected carcinogens. Some are linked with a higher incidence of asthma, respiratory disorders, cardiac disease and a host of other debilitating and potentially life threatening health conditions.

In addition, the frequent noise intrusions from HIO aviation activity pose significant health risks and play a significant role in eroding livability and interfering with the ability of residents to enjoy their properties.

As part of our ongoing quest to insure public accountability, restore livability, and protect the environment, Oregon Aviation Watch is continuing with its appeal of the third runway. Even though the runway has now been built, the Court has yet to rule on the possibility of irreparable harm and significant environmental impacts due to the actual usage of the runway.

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We are seeking your support in this all volunteer effort to address the serious environmental, health, and livability degradations resulting from HIO aviation activity. All contributions will go directly towards covering legal costs.

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Oregon Aviation Watch is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. (U.S. tax-exempt number is 27-3131841.)

We are sincerely grateful to all community members who have supported Oregon Aviation Watch and other airport appeals in the past. Your willingness to stand behind this effort is sincerely appreciated. Thank you for your support!

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