Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action holds shoe strike

By Hannah Stutler

Published: Jul. 25, 2020 at 6:58 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 25, 2020 at 7:34 PM EDT

PARKERSBURG, W.Va (WTAP) – If you drove past Parkersburg City Park on Saturday, you may have noticed the nearly four hundred pairs of shoes sitting in the grass.

They were put there by members of the Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action organization.

The organization held a shoe strike for climate justice.

The event allowed the organization to share their message while remaining socially distant.

The shoe strikes have been happening not only here, but across the globe.

“The movement Fridays for Future, which Greta Thunberg helped found,” said, Aaron Dunbar, Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action. “They have been setting these up in different locations around the world. It is to encourage people to get involved even though they can’t protest in large groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, this is a way to get together and keep the issue of climate change in focus.”

Many of the shoes were donated to the organization.

The ones that are still wearable will be donated and the rest will be recycled.

Do You Want Oil and Gas Waste in Your Water?

Robin Blakeman

Jul 23, 2020

Hoots and Hollers

If the answer to the title question is “no!” then please register to attend the Peoples Hearing on August 27th

Why is this necessary?

A virtual hearing hosted by USACE on August 7th, 2020 didn’t provide good access and allow adequate time for all participants to voice their concerns, so we – the people – are holding our own public meeting! 

Media reps covered the August 7th public meeting, but USACE officials wouldn’t even talk freely to them. 

This Letter to the Editor of the Huntington Herald Dispatch gives some details.


What’s the big deal? There have been three barge docks proposed to be built along the Ohio side of the Ohio River this year. If built, all three will be accepting oil and gas waste from unknown destinations, some of which are likely to be connected to horizontal well “fracking” operations. This would put a host of highly toxic and potentially radioactive substances only one spill away from contaminating the tap water for five million people. So far, this is the only public meeting or hearing that has been granted in response to public requests and comments.

Please register for the virtual public meeting, and send comments or questions. If you need more information or advice,  contact robin@ohvec.org 

Particular details of the hearing:

  • Relevant to the Deep Rock proposed barge facility near Marietta, OH.
  • To register for this hearing and receive the meeting link and call-in information send an email to: CELRH.North@usace.army.mil with the subject line “RSVP for 7 August Public Meeting” and include your full name, email address, and contact phone number with area code.
  • To submit a question prior to the meeting send an email to: CELRH.North@usace.army.mil with the subject line “Question for 7 August Public Meeting” and include your full name and contact phone number with area code. Questions submitted by email prior to the virtual public meeting will be prioritized over those received during the meeting, according to info. posted by USACE.
  • Comments and requests for additional information should be submitted electronically to CELRH.North@usace.army.mil by 4 p.m. August 17, 2020.  If you do not have internet access, comments may be submitted through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to the following address:

United States Army Corps of Engineers

ATTN:  CELRH-RD-N

Public Notice:  LRH-2020-293-OHR

502 Eighth Street

Huntington, West Virginia 25701-2070

Here are some urgent concerns we have about these proposed barge dock facilities, which focus on pollution/spill response concerns:

· It is unclear who would have jurisdiction/responsibility for records keeping and spill response planning, and whether those entities have clear channels of communication about the contents of these barges.

· There is a lack of appropriate testing methods for radionuclides; some of this waste could be radioactive (especially if from the Marcellus and Utica shale fields).

· USCG does not provide for any public notification, or public comment period, and only allows extremely limited access to public records on horizontal fracking related waste barges. USCG approves applications for this type of oil and gas waste based on information provided entirely by the shipper and waste can be sourced from hundreds of horizontal or vertical fracking wells in different phases of production throughout the Appalachian Basin.

· Toxic contents of unconventional oil and gas drilling waste are not among the chemicals tested for at source water intakes, nor at ORSANCO testing stations. Common contaminants in fracking waste that are toxic to human health: chemical additives, such as ethylene glycol, naphthalene, and sulfuric acid; Metals and organic compounds – for example, barium is linked to gastrointestinal disturbances, muscle weakness, and paralysis; BTEX – benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene – for example, benzene is a carcinogen, and linked to blood disorders such as anemia, and toluene is
linked to nervous system, kidney, and liver problems; salts or total dissolved solids – corrodes infrastructure, harms aquatic life and vegetation; NORM – naturally occurring radioactive materials, such as radium-226 and radium-228 – carcinogenic, linked to blood disorders. (These isotopes are found in brine associated with the salt deposits in the Marcellus shale and are brought to the surface along with produced water during fracking).

· Current drinking water treatment would probably be unable to filter out these contaminants if a spill occurred.

· Current standards for chemicals in fracking fluids, such as toluene, benzene and xylenes – established over 30 years ago – are NOT adequate to protect human health. Fracking waste contain TENORM (Technically enhanced radioactive materials) that can contain water soluble radium 226 and 228 according to a March 20, 2020 EPA post, in 120 pCi/gram. These radionuclides can only be removed by osmosis and ion exchange
methods; neither technique is used by most public drinking water facilities in our region. (The EPA has set a legal limit for Radium 226 and 228 combined at 5 picocuries per liter)

· Levels of radium could be much higher because of inadequate testing methods.

Here are more talking points, and sample questions that you might want to include in comments or questions sent to USACE:

Updated: Aug 25, 2020 — 8:55 pm

A Shoe Strike for Climate Justice

July 21, 2020   Press Release (written and submitted by Adeline Bailey)

Appearing in Clutch MOV (on-line magazine):  

The Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action group is hosting a Shoe Strike this Saturday, July 25th at Parkersburg City Park. A Shoe Strike is a safer form of protest during a global pandemic. Those wishing to participate are encouraged to bring a pair of shoes and a protest sign for Climate Justice to Parkersburg City Park at 9:00 am. The protest will be on display through 3:00 pm that afternoon. Once participants have placed their shoes and sign, they are asked to leave so that they can maintain safe social distance.

If you prefer, you can donate shoes in advance at one of three drop-off locations:

  • First Christian Church, 1400 Washington Ave., Parkersburg
  • First UU Church Courtyard, 232 Third St., Marietta
  • Seventh-day Adventist Church, 1901 Park Ave., Parkersburg

Why a Shoe Strike?

Changing conditions from drought to floods to wildfires to massive hurricanes are leading to millions of climate refugees all over the world. Twenty-four million people were displaced by climate disasters in 2019, and the World Bank projects that climate change will displace 143 million people per year by 2050, unless we do something about it right now.

While the USA is among the biggest polluters causing greenhouse gas emissions, we seem to be unable to take responsibility for the consequences of our actions. Across the world and in the US, it is people of color who are being most negatively affected by climate change.

Since we cannot gather safely in large numbers due to the pandemic, Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action is holding a Shoe Strike for Climate Justice, modeled on the Sko Strejk movement that started in Sweden and is now spreading to other parts of the World. People will bring their shoes and protest signs toCity Park in Parkersburg (corner of 23rd St. and Park Ave.)on Saturday, July 25th. The protest will take place from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

The Parkersburg Shoe Strike is sponsored by Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action in coordination with Fridays for Future and other Shoe Strikes for Climate Justice! in the U.S. For more information, visit FridaysforFuture.org.

Part of a Movement

On July 25th Shoe Strikes for Climate Justice are going global with Shoe Strikes happening all over Sweden, Germany, Great Britain, the US, Canada, and parts of Africa.

With an ongoing tragic corona pandemic and economies in free fall, our Federal decision-makers are busy today. But strong leadership is also about being able to look beyond the chaotic present and act now to address a far greater challenge: the climate crisis.

While many US cities are implementing strong climate action and adaptation plans, our federal government has backed out of our country’s commitments to the international Paris Climate Accord.

In the Paris Agreement, 194 countries agreed that the average temperature increase should be limited to well below 2 degrees with the aim of limiting it to 1.5 degrees. Despite this, greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase. Since the industrial revolution, we have already raised the average temperature by 1.2 degrees.

The warming means not just elevated sea levels, but also dehydrated agricultural land and greater evaporation of our precious water. Clearly these outcomes are unsustainable. Water availability and food production are projected to drop even further in Central America, and corn production is shifting northward into Canada.

There are plenty of things that individuals do to reduce their carbon footprints. Our state and federal representatives need to take the bigger steps towards a sustainable and secure society.

At the end of 2019 the European Investment Bank (EIB) announced that they will stop making loans for projects involving fossil fuels. The World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and other major global financial institutions are now considering whether to follow the EIB’s example.

Perhaps our cities should build a more sustainable future by divesting from fossil fuels, before their value plummets. Perhaps our government leadership should build a more sustainable future for us all, by investing in the coming technologies of wind and solar power.

Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action announces online series of seminars

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel:

Community News

Jul 16, 2020

PARKERSBURG — While Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action has suspended its Third Thursday programs because of the pandemic, the group has several upcoming opportunities that don’t require in-person meetings.

Climate Action will hold a webinar at 11 a.m. Friday, “Climate, Water and Justice” with Dr. Georgiana Logan, an assistant professor of health science and a research associate for the Minority Heath Institute at Marshall University. She is among the nation’s leading experts on climate, public health and environmental justice.

Logan is serving a two-year term on the American Public Health Association’s Center for Climate, Health and Equity inaugural advisory board. Part of WV Rivers’ Climate and Water Series, the free webinar will be presented on Zoom and requires registration at https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIlceqgqzkuHtYMLiFPatNLrxAQGQYN3PwZ

Teaching kids to care about the world we all live in

Appearing in The Marietta Times

Editorials

Jul 15, 2020

It is never too early to start thinking about ways to do better for our environment. In Williamstown, officials found a way to rope in local elementary students in lending support to pollinators. In fact, Williamstown Bee City USA had the aid of 16 children this summer, who planted their own pollinator gardens.

“We as a committee had to shift gears with what we could accomplish this year, because of the shut down and social distancing,” said Marty Seufer, a Williamstown council member and president of the Bee City Committee. “With school being taught from home during the COVID-19 outbreak, we were really glad to be able to work with the elementary schools to help educate the youth and give parents an activity they could involve the whole family in.”

Certainly help is needed from those of all ages, and anyone who wants to get involved can check out a list of plants that encourage pollination and can be added to a home garden at williamstownwv.org. Some of them can be purchased from River City Farmers Market vendors.

Meanwhile, having kids in our midst who already care this much about the world around them is an encouraging sign.

We hope the upcoming school year provides enough normality to allow the committee to expand the program beyond Williamstown-area elementary students, as they plan.

Frack Waste Barges: Another Threat to Ohio River Valley Residents’ Drinking Water Supply

Randi Pokladnik

Jul 14, 2020

Hoots and Hollers

The 981-mile Ohio River is notoriously one of the most polluted rivers in the nation according to the U.S. EPA. The river supplies drinking water to more than five million people. According to the Ohio River Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), an interstate agency that sets water quality standards for the river, 23 million pounds of toxic discharges are dumped into the river from industries and manufacturing processes all along its shoreline.

Adding insult to injury, three companies have recently submitted applications to obtain permits from the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct three barge terminals for liquid drilling wastes from the oil and gas industry.

One terminal would be developed by 4K Industrial Frac Water Supply and Recycling Technologies in Martins Ferry, one by DeepRock Disposal Solutions about 61 miles downstream of Martins Ferry near Marietta, and one by Fountain Quail Energy Services about 38 miles downstream from Marietta in Meigs County, Ohio. The facility in Martins Ferry will recycle frack wastes from Utica and Marcellus Shales. The other two sites will inject wastes into disposal wells.

The projects must comply with U.S. Coast Guard rules, and as of 2016, the coast guard only considers individual requests for barging operations on a case by case basis and does not provide for any public notification, public comments, or access to records. According to an article in Kallanish Energy, “It is unclear if anyone has moved shale drilling brine wastes by barge on the Ohio River.”

Unfortunately, the notice of these facilities gave local citizens little time to comment or express concerns. Citizen groups, including OVEC, made several requests to the Corps of Engineers for a public hearing on the Martins Ferry facility, but those requests were denied.

Citizens have every right to be concerned about yet another threat to their drinking water. A quick glance of the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) data collected from public drinking water suppliers along the Ohio River reveals that all public drinking water sources along the river have pollutants that in many cases exceed the EWG health standards and in some cases exceed federal standards. The EWG sets 0.05 pCi/liter for Radium-226 and Radium-228 combined whereas the federal standard is 5.0 pCI/L.

Mike Chadsey, director of public relations for the oil and gas industry said in an  article in the Marietta Times, “The brine which will be offloaded is not radioactive according to the U.S.EPA.” This statement is incorrect, and the U.S. EPA’s own fact sheet acknowledges the presence of radionuclides in oil and gas waste. Gamma-ray logs indicate high radioactivity in Marcellus shale according to a 2010 report published by the Radioactive Waste Management Associates. In fact, it is so high that natural gas deposits in Marcellus shale are identified by using gamma-ray detectors.  The salty water in the rock formations can contain “extremely high levels of water-soluble radionuclides” including uranium, thorium, and radium. These radionuclides are brought to the surface during oil and gas extraction.

The U.S. EPA does not regulate fracking wastes from oil and gas operations. Under the Bentsen Amendment, Congress exempted fluids, water, and other wastes generated by oil and gas from Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. A report published by the Western Organization of Research Councils said, “In 1987, the EPA issued its final report, which stated that oil and gas wastes ‘contain a wide variety of hazardous constituents,’ and that almost 25% of the waste samples it studied were highly toxic. Despite these findings, the report concluded that the exemption should stand. Regulating oil and gas wastes, it explained, ‘would cause a severe economic impact on the industry,’ not to mention ‘severe short-term strains’ on disposal facilities and permitting agencies.”

Chadsey also stated “hydraulic fracturing fluid used to frack a well is more than 99 percent water and sand plus some chemicals which are disclosed.” The U.S. EPA and Department of Energy said that an average of seven million gallons of fluid are used for each well. If one percent are chemical additives, that means upwards of over 70,000 gallons of chemicals including biocides, surfactants, and anti-corrosive agents are required for each well. Additionally, a study by Yale Public Health found that of these hundreds of chemicals, more than 80 percent have never been reviewed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Of the 119 that have been reviewed by IARC, 55 were found to be carcinogenic.  

Among the chemicals most frequently used in fracking, 24 are known to block the hormone receptors in humans, according to a 2017 study published in Science Direct.

Chadsey said, “we have been using Class II injection wells since the mid-1980s and the wastewater will be from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.” A 2018 article, A Toxic Tour Through Underground Ohio reported, “In 2016, Ohio injected 1,342,561,206 gallons of fracking wastewater into the earth, under full approval of Governor John Kasich, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and the EPA.” Ohio’s geology is “better suited” for injection wells than that of Pennsylvania and West Virginia and it currently has 177 Class II wells and accepts waste from its neighboring states.

Several studies, including one published in a September 2019 Scientific American issue, have cited injection wells as a cause for the substantial increase in earthquakes.  The Ohio Department of Natural Resources admitted oil and gas activities can cause earthquakes like the nearly 80 quakes that have occurred in the Mahoning County region of the state.

On April 23, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decided it was “not necessary to update federal standards on handling toxic waste from oil and gas wells, including the waste produced by fracking.” Instead they are leaving regulations up to individual states which frequently regulate in a piecemeal fashion.  Once again, the citizens of the Ohio River Valley will be left wondering about the safety of their drinking water. There are many questions that remain unanswered. Can spills be detected by the public water supply facilities? Can these facilities test for radionuclides? Who is responsible if a spill occurs? Who will cover clean-up costs?

New opportunities to take Climate Action safely with MOVCA

Neighborhood News Jul 14, 2020 Marietta Times

PARKERSBURG – Since large in-person gatherings indoors are not advisable during this time of COVID-19, Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action’s usual Third Thursday programs have been suspended until public programs are safe for presenters and attendees. But MOVCA is pleased to announce several upcoming opportunities for taking climate action that don’t require meeting together.

First on the calendar is a free webinar at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 17: Climate, Water, and Justice with Dr. Georgiana Logan. Dr. Logan is an assistant professor of health science and a research associate for the Minority Heath Institute at Marshall University, is one of our nation’s leading experts on climate, public health, and environmental justice. Currently, Dr. Logan is serving a two-year term on the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) Center for Climate, Health and Equity inaugural advisory board. Part of WV Rivers’ Climate and Water Series, the free webinar will be presented on Zoom and requires registration at zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIlceqgqzkuHtYMLiFPatNLrxAQGQYN3PwZ.

“We thought this would be a great way to learn about the public health effects of climate from a professional in the field from the safety of your own home,” said Jean Ambrose, co-vice chair for MOVCA. “And if you can’t participate during the live Zoom webinar, WV Rivers will make a video recording of the presentation available to registrants on their website later.”

MOVCA chair Eric Engle announced that another free, expert-led webinar will be presented by WV Center on Climate Change on July 29 at 6 p.m. “Who Speaks for the Trees?” with speakers Dr. William Moomaw and Dr. Sam Davis will discuss why diverse, intact forest ecosystems are vital for controlling greenhouse gases and global warming.

“You will need to RSVP and register for this free event at wvclimate.org/july-29th,” Engle said. “Then you will receive an e-mail acknowledgment (if not, be sure to check your spam folder). If you are unable to attend, a recording will be made available for registrants.”

“If you’re looking for a way to take climate action locally but not online, MOVCA needs your help!” said Aaron Dunbar, leadership team member. “We plan to participate in a climate shoe strike on July 25 in Parkersburg. The idea is that since we can’t assemble in person due to COVID-19, we can instead use pairs of shoes to represent citizens concerned about climate change, as well as future generations who have no voice with which to protest. This only works if we get enough shoes to have an impact, and we need your donations to make that happen.”

MOVCA is setting up drop-off sites for donated shoes in Parkersburg at the First Christian Church parking lot (1400 Washington Ave.) and in the courtyard area at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Marietta (232 Third St.)

“Our plan is to donate any wearable shoes to a local charity, and recycle the rest,” Dunbar said. “I’m really looking forward to turning this idea into a reality!”

Weigh benefits of proposed cracker

Letter to the Editor The Times Leader Jul 11, 2020 by Aaron Dunbar

I live in a small town in southeast Ohio, about a half hour away from Parkersburg, West Virginia.

I remember being beyond excited to learn that a major Hollywood film was being made about my community, Todd Haynes’ excellent 2019 feature “Dark Waters.” The film focuses on chemical giant DuPont’s willful poisoning of the Parkersburg area via the manufacturing of Teflon, which exposed countless numbers of unknowing citizens to the deadly chemical known as C8.

I ended up seeing “Dark Waters” twice in the same Parkersburg movie theater, and went with a friend the second time. As we were waiting for the film to begin, an elderly woman in the row ahead of us turned around and began making conversation.

It turned out that she was one of the many victims who’d been poisoned by DuPont, and that she, her husband, and two of their neighbors now each only had a single kidney. I was stunned by this, but even more so when I told the woman that this was my second time seeing the film, and she responded by asking me:

“So, do you believe that what they say in the movie is true?”

Here was a woman who’d just told me that a multibillion-dollar corporation had poisoned her, robbed her of an organ, and potentially shortened her life. And yet it was clear to me that she was used to having to defend the fact that she was a victim.

So entrenched was DuPont in her community, and so successfully had they duped so many people into thinking they’d done nothing wrong, that this woman’s own friends and neighbors evidently didn’t believe her when she told them that she and her husband had been poisoned.

In the months since this event, I’ve gradually begun learning more about the proposed PTTGC cracker plant being built along the Ohio River.

Although I’m a few miles further south from the areas immediately impacted by this development, I can’t help but be alarmed by certain echoes of the situation here. It’s being argued, for instance, that the regional economic benefits of this facility will outweigh the considerable health and environmental risks, despite this claim already looking very much to be a lie on behalf of the petrochemical industry.

I obviously have no power or authority to tell anyone what to do or what to believe. But it chills me to think of the Ohio River Valley being treated as just another sacrifice zone, and I sincerely hope that those advocating for this plant will think very carefully about their reasons for doing so, and whether or not the plant’s alleged benefits will even begin to outweigh the risks.

To read more about these potential risks, please visit Concerned Ohio River Residents on Facebook, or visit nocrackerplantov.com for more information.

Time to rethink priorities

Letters to the editor Jul 11, 2020 Parkersburg News&Sentinel by Aaron Dunbar

“Energy key to economic recovery,” claims a report in the July 5 edition of the News and Sentinel. Wally Kandel, co-founder of Shale Crescent USA, is quoted as saying that “The time for an energy and petrochemical Renaissance is now.”

I’m struggling to wrap my head around this reasoning. It’s odd to me that now would be the time for doubling down on fossil fuel production, when oil prices have just plunged into the negative for the first time in history, when it’s just been announced that CO2 levels in our atmosphere are the highest they’ve been in the past 23 million years, and when temperature records are being shattered right and left around the planet due to anthropogenic climate change, including 100-degree temperatures in the arctic.

It seems to me that trying to boost fossil fuel production now, when our planet is nose-diving headlong into a crisis, makes about as much sense as trying to force open the nation’s economy just as deaths from COVID-19 are beginning to skyrocket.

Oh, but wait…

On May 21, an article in The Guardian pointed out that a number of groups pushing for America’s premature reopening had in the past received significant funding from fossil fuel organizations, including ExxonMobil and Murray Energy, as well as the Koch and Mercer families.

That actually makes a lot more sense to me. The same people willing to sacrifice your health and safety for the sake of the economy surely have no qualms about sacrificing the habitability of our planet for the sake of short-term profits.

Now is the time for a radical reimagining of what our energy system looks like, not for doubling down on tired old systems that we know are unsustainable, that we know are killing us, and that we know are designed to enrich an elite few, while leaving the rest of us behind to clean up their messes.

Even if you do not care one iota about climate change (and I have no idea why you wouldn’t at this point, unless you had a vested interest in ignoring the issue), it’s abundantly clear that the future of the global economy lies in green jobs and renewable energy. And if America truly wants to continue leading the world in innovation and economic might, I suggest that now, more than ever, is the time for us to begin drastically reconsidering our priorities.

More common sense needed on fossil fuels

Column Jul 11, 2020 Times Leader by RANDI POKLADNIK

Environmental Consultant and Trainer

Last week’s Times Leader (July 5, 2020) carried an op-ed by Greg Kozera, the director of marketing and sales for Shale Crescent USA. In the op-ed Mr. Kozera talked a lot about common sense and our need for fossil fuels: specifically, plastics.

In a world drowning in plastic, common sense would dictate that we need to significantly cut down on our production of single-use plastics. According to the Ocean Conservancy, which monitors litter on beaches worldwide, the 10 most common items of litter picked up by volunteers were made of plastic. This included cigarette butts, food wrappers, drink bottles, caps and grocery bags. Not surprising, as plastic packaging makes up about 40 percent of all the plastics produced today.

One of the major issues with plastics is that they do what they are intended to do very well; they last forever. Plastics are long-chain carbon polymers that are synthesized from petroleum or natural gas feedstocks. Unlike other naturally occurring long-chain carbon compounds, such as carbohydrates found in plants, plastics will not degrade when exposed to enzymes or bacteria in the environment.

Common sense would ask is it wise to expand the production of something that never degrades? According to a study published in 2017 in Science Advances, we have produced approximately 8,300 million metric tons of plastic since the 1950s. Plastic waste now blankets our planet. More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year. Peer reviewed studies show that water from the Great Lakes contains a substantial amount of microplastics. Research published in the Public Library of Science disclosed microplastics were in 12 American beers. A study published in ORB Media determined that of 159 tap water samples taken from around the world, 83 percent contained plastic particles.

Mr. Kozera points to recycling as a solution to our plastic wastes. In 2017, there were 6.3 billion tons of plastic waste. Only 9 percent was recycled, 12 percent was incinerated and 79 percent ended up in landfills or the environment. I am old enough to remember the Keep America Beautiful anti-litter campaign of the 1970s. Backed by the beverage industry, it was a slick attempt to continue the production of plastic beverage bottles by passing off the responsibility for litter to consumers. Common sense would ask how successful has recycling been if after nearly 50 years, we only recycle 9 percent of our plastic waste.

In order to make plastic, the industry relies on a finite resource; fossil fuels. The fracking required to obtain ethane creates an enormous impact on the planet, including water and air pollution. Greenhouse gas emissions, in the form of methane and carbon dioxide make plastic production a major contributor to climate change. Under the Bensten Amendment, oil and gas wastes from exploration and production are exempt “from federal hazardous waste regulations.” Tests have shown wastes contains high levels of brine, toxic chemicals and radioactive isotopes. This brine is being marketed to consumers as deicers and spread on Ohio’s roads. A study by the Colorado Department of Health has shown that living near oil and gas activities results in exposures to toxic compounds such as benzene and toluene and poses a substantial health risk to people.

Given all these negative externalities, such as health effects and environmental destruction, does it make sense to use plastic wrap or containers for food items that have a shelf life of days? How could we explain to our great grandchildren that we used precious fossil fuel resources and ruined our planet to wrap green peppers and bananas?

Mr. Kozera tries to spin COVID-19 as a reason to use plastic bags. A recent Harvard study determined that “long-term average exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 death in the United States.” The Shell cracker plant will emit 159 tons of 2.5 particulate matter a year. Peer reviewed research shows that when exposed to toxic compounds, plastic acts as a sponge absorbing those toxins. Plastic can also leach unreacted monomers as well as plasticizers such as bis-phenol A (BPA). Chemicals can migrate from the plastic into the foods inside.

Certainly, there are applications that suit the use of plastic, ones that involve long-term uses. However, the industry is currently creating a supply, not filling a need as it pushes single use items and plastic packaging at the consumers of the world. According to the statistics site, Statista, the amount of plastic produced each year, 300 million tons, is equivalent to the weight of humanity.

Mr. Kozera says “we just can’t blindly follow or believe everything we hear or read.” I totally agree. We need to do our own research, finding sources that produce data based on independent studies, ones not funded by fossil fuel money. Lenny Bernstein, a climate expert with Exxon Mobil, said the company was aware of climate change in 1981, but they chose to cover the data with a massive program to promote climate denial much like the tobacco industry. This industry also receives $20 billion a year from the U.S. in subsides.

Mr. Kozera says “we need to educate ourselves and let go of long held beliefs that are wrong or not true.” I totally agree. This can be said of the belief that the Ohio Valley cannot have environmentally sustainable, safe jobs. Residents must stand-by while foreign corporations use the resources of the region to make profits for stockholders, leaving taxpayers with the bill to clean up the environmental destruction.

Contrary to Mr. Kozera, I believe most people realize that solar panels do not work at night. What he doesn’t know or fails to state is that excess solar energy can be stored in battery farms. Bloomberg reported that Tesla’s Hornsdale Power Reserve has saved South Australians $116 million as it stores power during low demand times and releases it during high demand times. China also has a battery farm, The China Shoto produces 30 MW of solar power supported by 20 MW of energy storage.

When it comes to the fossil fuel industry “common sense is much less common than you think.”

Randi Pokladnik is a Urichsville resident who holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry as well as amaster’s and Ph. D in environmental studies. She is a member of the Fresh Water Accountability Project Board of Directors, holds a certificate in hazardous materials regulation and is an Ohio certified naturalist volunteer. She also is active with several local environmental organizations.