The future will be green or not at all

Letter to the Editor Marietta Times by Aaron Dunbar Jun 2, 2020

“There have been calls for a moratorium on the approval and construction of new natural gas pipeline projects and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Congressman Bill Johnson wrote in a May 1st Facebook post.

“As a result, I – along with a bipartisan group of four colleagues – signed on to a letter strongly urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to continue processing, reviewing, and accepting projects in a manner consistent with regular business, as COVID-19 health and safety guidelines allow. American prosperity and energy security are closely linked, and that is why the energy sector is so critical to our current response and will be key driver of our recovery. The maintenance and development of critical energy infrastructure – such as natural gas pipelines and liquified natural gas (LNG) export facilities – is vital to the nation’s safety, prosperity and well-being. A moratorium would be unnecessary and detrimental to our economic recovery.”

I can’t help but wonder whether Johnson is far more concerned with his own prosperity and well-being than that of our nation. Having received over $600,000 in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry over the course of his political career, his presence in congress appears to hinge upon his catering to the whims of his corporate owners.

Examining his list of donors during the current election cycle, available via, a prominent name stood out to me- that of Koch Industries.

According to a 2012 article from, Johnson was one of several Republicans to sign onto an anti-climate protection pledge from the advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, which “opposes any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.” The group was founded in 2004 by the Koch Brothers.

Johnson’s continued catering to the fossil fuel industry, however unsurprising, is a disgrace. If the current pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the system we now have in place is an extremely volatile one.

We’ve seen oil prices plunge into the negative dollar amount for the first time in history, at the precise moment when scientists tell us we have approximately a decade to address the crisis of climate change – which will, by all accounts, dwarf the current pandemic by comparison. We need a green recovery, and we need it now.

Congressman Johnson constantly rallies against government spending and extols the economic virtues of the oil and gas industry, conveniently overlooking reports such as one published in 2019 by the International Monetary Fund, noting that fossil fuels are globally subsidized to the tune of $5,000,000,000,000 per year. Or reports that the costs of climate change could amount to $8 trillion by 2050, to say nothing of the toll in human lives. Or that trying to fight climate change now, rather than later, could save the U.S. a whopping $20 trillion by the end of the century.

In the words of Australian politician and environmentalist Bob Brown, “The future will either be green or not at all.” It seems that even in a time of unprecedented crisis, men like Congressman Johnson are hell-bent on guaranteeing us the latter fate.

Caught between supply and demand

Local Column Marietta Times May 9, 2020

By David E. Ballantyne

Little in my experience prepared me for a Pandemic. I am an engineer by training; thus, a student of science.

I have high respect for the methods and principals within science.

Of course, those methods and principals are applied by humans.

Thus, show me the data and the evidence.

But we all largely know that it is just a matter of time until science finds a vaccine for coronavirus-19.

In the meantime, it is a nuisance for most of us and a tragedy for some.

I support learning our lessons for adapting to the nuisance.

Parallel to the Pandemic is Climate Change. I am a Climate Activist.

I have studied the evidence and as an engineer and a student of science, there is no doubt in my mind but what Climate Change is a threat of equal gravity as the current Pandemic.

Science indicates that Climate Change is largely caused by carbon emissions trapping heat in the atmosphere.

The bulk of the change in these emissions is due to human use of Carbon Fuels.

These fuels are used for generating electricity, fueling internal combustion transportation engines, home and building heating and cooling and industrial processes for making products such as metals, plastics and cement.

As with the Pandemic, addressing Climate Change requires behavioral changes to avoid risks — changes which are an inconvenience; but, if not avoided are a tragedy for some of us. And with both issues, behavioral changes require the need for “building public will” to convince people to accept the changes required to address avoiding risk.

Those behavioral changes address the supply/demand balance for the Virus or for Carbon Emissions.

Climate Scientists have for years called for global reduction in Carbon Emissions without substantive success.

However, over the past three months, when a good portion of the global population have been sheltering in their homes, Climate Change inducing Carbon Emissions were substantively reduced — by not driving automobiles and not using public transport, particularly airplanes.

Air quality improved and air pollution induced illnesses declined.

And, what we also learned was that certain segments of the population are significantly disadvantaged to the risks.

For Climate, we call them refugees.

For the Pandemic, we call them old, ill or poor. Addressing it is a matter of Public Will and Human ingenuity.

And a merger of Science and Human Desire.

I think addressing it can be done without giving up our accustomed lifestyle.

And, we have seen surprising bipartisanship in the past three months.

Don’t do more damage

Letter to the Editor Parkersburg News & Sentinel, May 9 by Eric Engle

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has recently issued a Public Notice (20-07), which states that Deeprock Disposal Solutions LLC has submitted an application under the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 to construct a waterfront barge loading and offloading facility on the Ohio River by Rt. 7 to transfer traditional oil and gas well waste to existing upland storage tanks.
More oil and gas waste being shipped to Ohio up the Ohio River, doesn’t that sound wonderful?
Here we are in the midst of the worst pandemic in this country in 100 years and the oil and gas industry is trying to push through risky permitting to allow more dangerous waste to be offloaded and dumped here. This waste could be shipped in from as far away as Texas and Oklahoma. Oil and gas waste has been shown to be radioactive, it contains high salinity, and it has been shown to contain known carcinogens. This is a danger to area aquifers and groundwater, and the Ohio River is a drinking water source for 5 million people and is already one of the most contaminated and polluted waterways in the country.
The permit application itself states that the barge lodging and offloading dock is within the known or historic range of the endangered Indiana bat, the threatened northern long-eared bat, the endangered fanshell mussel, the endangered pink mucket pearly mussel, the endangered sheepnose mussel, and the endangered snuffbox mussel. A trip to the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge will inform you that these and other mussel populations have already been impacted heavily by the dredging and damming of the Ohio River for river commerce, and that these water purifying mussel species are critical to the river valley’s ecology and river health.
Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action has joined other organizations in asking for a public hearing and extension of the public comment period on this waste offloading station. The people of the Mid-Ohio River Valley, on both sides of the river, need to say no to this nonsense. COVID-19 has decimated the oil and gas industry and our focus needs to be on energy transition, not clinging to the past and continuing to pollute and contaminate already devastated communities.

A legacy of externalized costs

Letter to the Editor, Marietta Times by Victor Elam, May 6

Externalized costs are costs that are generated by one party who benefits but a third party pays for those costs directly or indirectly. The Mid-Ohio Valley is rife with examples of its residents and its lands paying the price while others reap the rewards, from forest harvest in the early 1900’s followed by oil, coal, gas extraction to industry leaving behind poisoned employees and lands.
One such example occurred in 1999 when an industry near Marietta released harmful chemicals into the Ohio River that killed thousands of fish and at least 990,000 mussels over a 20 mile stretch of the river. The guilty parties paid a 3.25 million dollar penalty for their misdeed yet 30 years later and after great efforts to restore the mussel population, the population has not recovered.
The public often has no opportunity to have a voice when these externalized costs are forced upon them, but there is a proposal submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) that will require a permit and is subject to public comment and it so happens to have potential to affect the same area as the chemical release in 1999. The proposal is to bring well waste by barge to a docking site and pump the waste material from the barge to existing holding tanks where it will then be transferred to trucks and transported to area injection wells for disposal. So here again the residents of the MOV are subjected to risk of contamination from spills or unknown risks resulting from the injection wells to help others profit while we get nothing. If something does go wrong, we will suffer or the environment in which we live will and no amount of money will be able to correct the damage.
I encourage you to provide comment regarding this project to:
Unless an extension is granted, comment is being taken until May 6. In the past public hearings were held for these types of actions but the USACE has elected to forego those hearings and only accept comment online. If you feel that this should be delayed until we can have a proper public hearing please let the Huntington District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers know.

Trust the science

Letter to the Editor Marietta Times May 13, 2020 by Aaron Dunbar

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been,” wrote prominent science fiction author Issac Asimov four decades ago. “The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

I don’t know that a more succinct explanation exists for the era in which we live.

How else to make sense of the heavily armed protesters demanding an end to stay-at-home orders during a deadly pandemic? Or a President who casually floats the idea of injecting disinfectants in order to treat the coronavirus, leading to a reported spike in calls to poison control centers throughout the country?

How do you explain Mike Pence’s visit to the Mayo Clinic without wearing a mask? How do you explain Jared Kushner referring to 58,000 dead Americans as a “great success?” How do you explain a political party that brazenly promotes itself as being pro-life, now pushing for the reopening of the country despite explicit warnings from medical professionals, and arguing that the loss of a few million lives is a worthwhile price to pay for a strong economy?

How do you explain the fact that many of the same people witnessing this insanity will (literally) die on the hill of denying any of this? Of insisting they were right all along despite observable reality?

Anyone who’s paid any attention to our nation’s gross mishandling of the climate crisis can hardly be surprised by the turn of events now unfolding in response to COVID-19. As a Vox article from last month astutely pointed out, “One of the strongest and most robust predictors of social distancing behavior is found in attitudes toward another major challenge facing the United States: climate change.”

I really do not know how to lay this out more explicitly:

I do not know more than scientists. Neither do you.

You do not know more than medical professionals. You do not know more than epidemiologists. You do not know more than the international community of climate scientists, who overwhelmingly agree on the reality of anthropogenic climate change, and the unprecedented threat it poses to humanity’s future.

I don’t know better, you don’t know better, and neither does the President, whose cult of ignorance appears endlessly willing to bend objective reality in order to accommodate whatever pseudoscientific delusions happen to pop into his head on any given day.

The only way we can ever hope to grow is by possessing the humility to admit that there are things we simply do not know as individuals. Instead of manufacturing theories from whole cloth based on what we want to hear, perhaps it would be wiser to defer to those who’ve spent their entire lives devoted to studying whatever it is we’re unsure about. Maybe it’s time to stop paying attention to the President and his henchmen, whether on climate change or COVID-19, and to finally start listening to the scientists.

Individual ignorance is one thing. But when huge segments of the population are willing to accept certifiable falsehoods as truth, we all inevitably suffer the consequences.

Increasing risk without our consent

Letter to the Editor May 5, 2020 Marietta Times by Rebecca Phillips

Yet again, proposals affecting the health and well-being of everyone in the Mid-Ohio Valley are being made without our input. The Army Corps of Engineers is considering a proposal that would expand a docking facility on Route 7 south of Marietta to allow potentially radioactive drilling wastewater to be offloaded there. No public notice of this proposal appeared in local media, and the Corps will not be holding a public meeting; the online comment period ends on May 6, in just a few days.

Drilling waste contents are not generally made public because of loopholes in US law, but the likely toxins include arsenic, benzene, toluene, and mercury, in addition to a mix of radioactive materials. Much of the wastewater coming our way would be from other states as Ohio’s geology makes it “suitable” for service as a wastewater dumping ground. Some of this out-of-state waste would likely go into injection wells in our county; more of it would be transferred to trucks – as many as 250 per barge – and sent over our roads, through residential neighborhoods and past farms.

Barge accidents and leaks are not unheard-of. The Ohio River provides drinking water to more than five million people and is already considered one of the country’s most polluted bodies of water. Many local water systems already face challenges filtering toxins such as C8: does adding to the risk make sense?

The Corps of Engineers is accepting comments on this permit application until May 6 unless an extension is granted. Please consider submitting a comment and a request for extension at the following web address. Only online comments are being accepted:

Especially in this time of pandemic, people and communities should not be placed at increased risk, and especially not without their informed consent.

Residents concerned about wastewater permit

Local News May 5, 2020 Marietta Times by Michele Newbanks,

The public comment period is set to end Wednesday on a permit for a docking facility at Deep Rock Disposal Solutions. The docking facility, which would be located just south of Marietta on Ohio 7, is where local residents are concerned fracking wastewater will be offloaded.

The Independent Petroleum Association of America explains hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is the process of injecting liquid and materials at high pressure to create small fractures within tight shale formations. This is to stimulate production and extract energy from an underground well after the drilling has ended and the rig and derrick are removed from the site.

Devola resident George Banziger said in an email that he and others are concerned about the project.

“(We) are very concerned about the health hazards of his proposed facility, the lack of attention to this issue publicly, and the timing of the public comment period – to end May 6,” he said. “It seems that the intention is to offer the comment period just when everyone is consumed with news about the coronavirus.”

Dawn Hewitt of Marietta said the notice was published on the Huntington District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ website. It requests the authorization to operate a barge offloading facility to transfer traditional well waste to existing upload storage tanks.

“Who looks there?” Hewitt said of the website. “If it was announced, it was announced in the Huntington (W.Va.) newspaper. It wasn’t brought to the attention of people here. They were following the letter of the law, not the spirit of the law.”

Ohio Revised Code notes that all legal advertisements , notices and proclamations shall be printed in a newspaper of general circulation and shall be posted by the publisher of the newspaper on the newspaper’s internet website, if the newspaper has one.

Chuck Minsker, public affairs specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, noted the regulatory office said there are no plans to expand the public comment period. He was unaware if the notices had run in any newspapers.

Marietta resident Rebecca Phillips said drilling waste contents could likely include arsenic, benzene, toulene and mercury, as well as radioactive materials.

She said several people she knows have contacted the corps of engineers, but they haven’t heard much beyond the notice on the website.

“What we’ve been told by the corps, is that it is for traditional wastewater by oil and gas wells,” she said. “Anything coming out of the ground has danger of pollutants, even if it’s traditional wastewater.”

Phillips said she is concerned that southern Ohio is becoming a dumping ground.

“We are geologically suited (for wastewater dumping), but the notion of wastewater, we have no rights to know what’s in it,” she explained. “They can take waste water from all over the country and inject it into the ground here.”

She said the area is already getting truck loads of waste, but having a docking facility would add to the current problem.

John Mossor, who applied for Deep Rock’s permit, did not return calls for comment.

Hewitt said there are brine trucks driving through Marietta that are full of “toxic, contaminated water” that’s being pumped into old wells.

“I’m not convinced of the safety of the disposal method,” she said. “I’m concerned we are contaminating our ground water, and bringing in more could be a threat.”

She said there are only a few disposal sites in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, but Ohio has thousands.

“I wonder how carefully these waste disposal sites are inspected,” Hewitt said. “This area where this barge is proposed is already contaminated. We should be working to clean things up instead of contaminating it more.”

A call to Darryl Ting, a retired chemical engineer from Marietta who wrote a letter to the corps of engineers about his concerns with the permit, was not returned by press time.

The letter said that Ting also had concerns about the public notification process, as well as concerns about the waste itself, which he believes to be fracking waste.

“The difference is significant,” he said in the letter. “Fracking waste contains as many as 157 chemicals known to be toxic…by a legal loophole, fracking waste is not legally hazardous.”

Ting also said that there is no evidence a process safety review has been made.

Climate change and national security

Letter to the Editor Apr 28, 2020 Marietta Times by Aaron Dunbar

“Within a few short centuries, we are returning to the air a significant part of the carbon that was extracted by plants and buried in the sediments during half a billion years Through his worldwide industrial civilization, Man is unwittingly conducting a vast geophysical experiment. Within a few generations he is burning the fossil fuels that slowly accumulated in the earth over the past 500 million years. By the year 2000 the increase in CO2 will be close to 25%. This may be sufficient to produce measurable and perhaps marked changes in climate. The climate changes that may be produced by the increased CO2 content could be deleterious from the point of view of human beings.”

The above is an excerpt from an official report sent to President Lyndon B. Johnson back in 1965. It’s not as well known as it really should be that every single U.S. President going back to at least Johnson has been warned about the dangers of anthropogenic climate change.

Today the United States Pentagon (hardly fitting the profile of the left-leaning tree huggers accused of peddling a socialist conspiracy by climate change deniers) considers the ongoing climate crisis an imminent threat to the future of our nation.

Said the Department of Defense in a 2015 Congressional memo: “Climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources such as food and water. These impacts are already occurring, and the scope, scale, and intensity of these impacts are projected to increase over time.”

Recall the much-demonized “migrant caravan” traveling north from South America throughout the past couple of years. Above the raucous political noise about whether or not these desperate individuals should be allowed entry into the United States, there were also smatterings of articles here and there about the underlying causes of the migration. Among these reasons were widespread drought and crop failure, theorized to have been a direct effect of anthropogenic climate change.

Africa and the Middle East, meanwhile, both areas of the world already fraught with tension, are likely to experience massive escalations in conflict as a result of rising global temperatures. Studies have already found, for instance, that the devastating civil war in Syria was likely sparked in part by the migration of farmers from rural areas into cities, due again to drought fueled by global warming.

These instances are only going to multiply and get worse until we begin to take meaningful action on climate change, and it’s a mistake to believe that we as Americans can remain insulated from the conflict for long.

For more information on how you can get involved in the effort for meaningful climate solutions, reach out to the Citizens’ Climate Lobby Marietta Chapter.

Save our earth

Letter to the Editor Apr 24, 2020 Marietta Times by Margaret Meeker

Last year at this time I submitted a letter concerning Earth Day which was started 50 years ago under a Republican administration. As we approach Earth Day, April 22, 2020 we need to ask, what have we as a country done to reduce carbon dioxide in the last year? Nothing. The present administration in Washington, D.C. has done a great job of dismantling everything the Obama administration did to reduce our emissions. Now the Trump administration is fighting with the state of California about regulations for auto emissions.

Since 2019 we have witnessed the worst fires in Australia. Now fires are burning in Russia near the site of the worst nuclear disaster at Chernobyl that occurred on Saturday 26 April 1986. I can’t remember which news channel reported this. The fires and wind are now carrying radiation into the surrounding areas. Also, I have not seen any statistics on how Russia is handling the coronavirus pandemic.

Is the pandemic tied to the climate crisis? Well, yes, some places are seeing bluer skies due to lack of auto and plane travel. That would change quickly if all rush to return to “normal”. But now the use of plastic bags and containers has grown due to shopping without cloth bags and more carry out from restaurants.

The lessons we could learn from this virus is that we must listen to scientists, we must act quickly as our earth is not well. In an article published by Beth Gardiner, she says, the virus teaches us that we must act with great urgency to save the planet. Maybe, our ‘new normal” will be working from home, teleconferencing rather than continental/intercontinental travel, using public transportation vs individual cars, only traveling for essentials, living with less vs more, respecting the beautiful outdoors, raising our food, enjoying the ones who live in our homes, helping neighbors, making sure all have food, clothing, and shelter as well as health care and sufficient income to live regardless where we live or the color of our skin.

As we stay home to protect our neighbors, may we think of ways we can save the earth.

One way is to elect government officials who will listen to scientists, act quickly for the good of all people, and protect our air, water, food, etc.

Using pandemic to avoid regulations

April 10,2020 By Dr. Randi Pokladnik at

The world has come to a standstill as countries try to protect their citizens from the COVID-19 virus spreading across the globe. People have been asked to adhere to social distancing guidelines, and only essential businesses are allowed to remain open to prevent further spread of this very contagious virus.

While the world is preoccupied with this crisis, polluting industries have used this as an excuse to increase their assault on our environment. Some government agencies charged with assuring the safety of our air and water have all but abdicated their responsibilities.

As usual the oil and gas industry has been quick to claim their industry is an “essential” one. Although the maintenance of existing energy supplies is critical, new pipeline construction is not. Yet many pipelines including the Mariner East II in Pennsylvania, the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in West Virginia and Virginia, and the Keystone XL Pipeline in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska all continue to be constructed.

The Keystone XL Pipeline could carry 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta through Nebraska to the Gulf Coast in Texas. Farmers, indigenous communities and ranchers in the USA are resisting its construction.

Oil Change International’s Collin Rees spoke out against the recent $1.1 billion investment from Alberta, Canada’s government to help construct the XL tar sands pipeline. “We need billions of dollars invested directly in vulnerable communities dying from COVID-19, not spent propping up massive oil companies and unneeded projects that would trample indigenous rights and exacerbate the climate crisis.”

In the midst of a pandemic where people are being asked to avoid family funerals and are separated from their loved ones, hundreds of out-of-state construction workers will move into rural communities in these regions.

This is especially disturbing in isolated areas that lack hospitals and medical resources such as indigenous communities and isolated regions in West Virginia.

Citizens living in communities close to the Shell Plastic Cracker Plant in Monaca, Pennsylvania have asked Governor Wolf to pause its construction due to the possible spreading of the COVID-19 virus. They cited a range of hazards including crowded busses and a lack of hand sanitizer in portable bathrooms. The site has seen over 7,000 construction workers employed on the 40-acre tract of land.

Communities in and around these pipelines also are worried about the spread of the virus from “man-camps.” Out-of-state workers use these camps to set up temporary housing. The leader of the Yankton Sioux tribe likened the influx of nonlocal workers to the distribution of infected smallpox blankets.

The continued construction of pipelines and other oil and gas projects during a time of a pandemic shows a total disregard for the health and safety of local communities and also for pipeline workers and their families.

On March 26 the EPA announced a “temporary policy on environmental enforcement” would occur during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the results of this policy is “no penalties will be given to entities who fail to comply with routine monitoring and reporting.” This also includes no reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and the weakening of transportation sector emission requirements.

As we struggle with a disease that specifically affects the lungs, the EPA announced it will weaken 2012 auto pollution standards. This will make the U.S. one of the worst countries when it comes to fuel efficiency.

According to a Mother Jones article, the reversal means “an increase of 185,000 premature deaths, 250,000 more asthma attacks, 350,000 other respiratory problems and an increase of $190 billion in health costs between now and 2050.”

In a recent article in The Hill, environmentalists said this policy is a “license to pollute.” Some industries that will greatly benefit from the lack of monitoring and reporting include chemical plants, oil and gas, power plants, steel manufacturers, and others who could discharge more pollutants into the air and waterways of our nation.

Last week I attended a webinar conducted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The webinar covered new proposed regulations that would transfer disposal requirements for what the NRC called “very low-level radioactive wastes” from licensed radioactive disposal sites to any private or public landfill receiving an exemption.

After a brief PowerPoint presentation, the webinar was open for questions. There were people present from all over the country and from various environmental and health organizations. No one was happy about this proposed rule change.

The wastes that could fall under this VLLRW classification range from contaminated mops and clothing from nuclear power plants to irradiated pipes and reactor components. A truckload of wastes could meet the amount considered to be very low-level radioactive wastes by averaging all the radiation in the load.

The ability to average together both high- and low-level radioactive wastes occurs with “irregularly contaminated” fracking wastes. These wastes can have both high amounts of Radium from technically enhanced naturally occurring radiation from produced waters, as well as sludge from drill cuttings.

According to one of the webinar participants, an attorney from Ohio, ”The NRC will grant a one-time license, calling it an ‘exemption’ for a local landfill, with no articulated guidelines for what the dumping pit must be lined with, whether there are any well monitors set up, no firm testing or other monitoring protocol, no indication whether leachate samples should be tested and no means of determining whether there is offsite leakage.”

Ohio currently has 38 private or municipally owned landfills, and any of these could apply for an NRC exemption. Nuclear power plants all over our country are aging out and looking for places to take their wastes. These landfills would provide a cheap way around the current expensive alternatives (see 10 CFR 20.2002).

Most people familiar with landfills can tell you they will leak. I have seen butter break down a landfill liner in a matter of weeks in a lab setting. Counting on these landfills to protect our surface and groundwater from irreparable harm is naïve at best.

The Ohio attorney said, “Improperly disposed of industrial chemicals leak into area water, and now the NRC wants radioisotopes with half-lives extending out to tens if not hundreds of thousands of years to be securely confined in facilities that are nowhere near being up to that mission.”

Will Ohioans know if their local landfill is accepting these wastes and if workers are trained in handling these wastes? What will communities do if underground water sources become contaminated?

We have until April 20 to submit comments to the NRC at

People also can contact local officials who deal with solid wastes and let them know we do not want our landfills to become cheap radioactive dumping sites for the nuclear industry.

See many more great articles by Dr. Pokladnik here.