Climate Corner: Regulatory burden – must it be so?

May 27, 2023

Vic Elam

There has been a lot of critical conversation lately about the burden that business, industry, and the economy endure because of what many view as unnecessary laws or regulations. Though I cannot speak to all regulations, I have considerable and varied experience with regulatory impact in many different fields and would like to share some insight. The accounts that I share here are just a few select experiences intended to make a point.

I have had the opportunity, or misfortune, depending on your viewpoint, to work in the fishing industry in Alaska. That industry is regulated by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). NMFS gathers information about the health of the fish populations to set harvest regulations that restrict the numbers of different species that can be removed by commercial fishermen and still maintain a healthy population for subsequent years. Commercial fishing vessels are required to have a person on board that is trained by NMFS to monitor and report the amount of catch so that NMFS can track the fishery and close the season when the expendable population has been removed. Those monitors are not hired by the boats they monitor and must follow stringent ethical standards. Without the regulatory oversight of NMFS there is little doubt that the fishing industry would destroy itself by removing more fish than can repopulate. This has been demonstrated in Japan where failure to control commercial fishing has led to major collapses in desirable fish populations. Certainly, our local recreational hunting and fishing seasons and limits are designed to ensure a harvestable population for generations to come.

Consumer protection laws, driving laws, building codes, and much more are put in place to protect ourselves from the actions of others. Laws and regulations are not easily put in place and require the effort and cooperation of our elected officials to enact and enforce. Despite considerable effort from the energy sector industries to manipulate or eliminate laws and regulations, some have been enacted to protect workers and the public. As in other circumstances, these restrictions put on the energy industry serve to protect us from ourselves. The anemic few regulations that made it through the energy industry gauntlet often come under attack even though their intent is to protect public safety.

Although this is not an issue specific to the Mid-Ohio Valley, I have been in a position to observe the tremendous amount of water drawn from many aquifers throughout this country and when I look at a U.S. Geological Survey Report from 2008 that shows that aquifers that underlie critical farmland areas in this country have been depleted to the tune of up to 400 cubic kilometers, it concerns me. I am familiar with farmers who irrigate from aquifers who keep needing to put in deeper wells, and then I see them flood irrigate their fields with water flowing out the other end of the fields filling the drainage ditches. This is where more regulation is needed to protect us from ourselves. As climate change continues to shrink the world’s arable land, the aquifers we deplete may be called on for the worlds’ food supply – they are for a large part already.

Regulatory burden gets a bad rap, but without it our quality of life might be jeopardized. We can lift regulations and the economy might respond favorably, but I would argue that lax regulations are not sustainable and will lead to problems that are not a burden on those who profited from deregulation, but the problems will fall on society.


Vic Elam is a Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action member, an avid outdoorsman, and contributor to organizations that share his concern for our environment and the children we borrow it from.

Climate Corner: Facing reality

May 20, 2023

Aaron Dunbar

“You need to be more realistic.”

Those of us advocating to prevent the collapse of human civilization caused by anthropogenic climate change have heard this line or some variation of it more times than you can possibly count.

“Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that the unanimous consensus of the world’s climate scientists is accurate, and that we really are heading for apocalyptic levels of global heating,” our critics might occasionally allow us, once they’ve decided that the evidence is too grim to go on denying that the problem of warming exists at all. “I agree that we need to do something, but the solutions you’re proposing are far too radical. We use fossil fuels in every single area of our lives, and we can’t survive without them. I agree that we need to stop polluting so much, but getting rid of fossil fuels just isn’t realistic.”

It is impossible to respond to such an argument without acknowledging a kind of deeply flawed calculus implicit in the minds of those who advocate for such middle-of-the-road thinking, and indeed most human beings in general. That is, put simply, the idea that everything will always work out for us in the end.

In some ways, it could be argued that our dogmatic adherence to this myth often serves as a kind of survival mechanism for humanity. This mentality can spur us on through hopelessness and adversity, leading us to persist through hardship no matter how bleak the circumstances may seem. All is not lost, we convince ourselves, and we somehow find the courage to keep putting one foot in front of the other, assured that a path will eventually illuminate itself for us.

On the other hand, this level of perseverance, coupled with a lack of self-awareness and ignorance of our place in the sprawling complexities of our world, can easily creep into catastrophic levels of delusion.

“I need a habitable planet,” our thinking goes, “and I also need access to the fossil fuel resources that power my standard of living. But that’s okay, because somehow things always work out in the end. Therefore, it is inevitable that there must be some way that I can have both of these things, and nothing has to change.”

I’m strongly inclined to believe that Americans are particularly susceptible to this line of reason, as among a race of hairless apes which believes itself to be separate from and above the limitations of nature, we are a nation that believes itself to be an indomitable exception among the empires of the world, as per our longstanding mythology of manifest destiny.

We hold steadfast to the belief that the dealer always wins, and in our short-sighted arrogance we believe the unprecedented excesses of hypercapitalist extraction place us comfortably and eternally in the dealer’s chair.

And yet ultimately, the forces of nature, the laws of physics and chemistry, and the infinite complexity of interconnected ecological systems reign over us like an all-powerful dictator, however benevolent or malevolent its demeanor.

Sometimes things simply do not work out in the end, however unpleasant a fact this may be. Sometimes the equation does not balance. Sometimes people’s lives are destroyed, and they never recover. Sometimes entire species are erased from the Earth as though they were never really here, and sometimes life on our fragile planet is nearly eliminated altogether — as was the case some 250 million years ago, during the Permian-Triassic extinction event, which wiped out some 90% of Earth’s species.

Believing ourselves immune to such a fate, or that it can be avoided while maintaining our limitless consumption of Earth’s finite resources, in no way qualifies as “being more realistic” about the climate crisis, but instead constitutes a level of magical thinking of the most catastrophic order.

For those who call on us to “be more realistic” about the climate crisis, I have some hard and unfortunate truths for you. Realistically, we are on track to arrive somewhere around 3∂C of global heating within the coming decades. Realistically, the Earth’s carrying capacity, or “the maximum population size of a biological species that can be sustained by [a] specific environment,” is likely to be reduced to no more than 1 billion people once we arrive at 4C of warming, as predicted by Professor Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Given the difficulty of factoring in numerous future variables and feedback loops in our estimates of temperature rise, it is by no means an unrealistic prospect that heating should eventually reach this level.

And finally, the only realistic way for us to avoid the potential genocide of some 90% of the Earth’s human population through ecological collapse, is a widespread and immediate transition away from the fossil fuel economy.

You can be as angry as you want to about this. In fact, you should be angry. But the ones you should be angry at are the powerful elites and the fossil fuel executives who spent half a century lying to you about the deadly effects of their product as they deliberately made it indispensable to our everyday lives, viciously fighting against a global transition to renewable energy for fear that it might endanger their bottom line.

The longer these malicious actors keep you enraged at truth-tellers instead of the snake oil salesmen who brought us to this point, the more leverage elites gain in deciding who among us is expendable in their planet-killing crusade for profits.


Aaron Dunbar is a member of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action.

Climate Corner: Addressing climate change in your own backyard

May 13, 2023

George Banziger

For anyone in the Mid-Ohio Valley who senses the importance and urgency to act on climate change, these can be frustrating and discouraging times. Public officials in West Virginia seem inextricably committed to fossil fuels, especially coal. And public officials in Ohio seem to be hopelessly corrupt and under tightening influence of the fossil-fuel industry.

It’s important in keeping motivated for this cause to exercise personal agency and a sense of purpose in one’s own life. One way to achieve a modicum of success is to strive to make small changes in one’s personal life to address climate change. Spring is the ideal time to set some climate goals in your own backyard–a first step is the lawn, as Dr. Douglas Tallamy, botanist at the University of Delaware and author of the book, “Nature’s Best Hope,” expresses through his slogan, “shrink the lawn.”

Lawn ownership and lawn care are an obsession with most American homeowners. Americans spend, collectively, three billion hours on lawn care per year. Lawn irrigation consumes over 8 billion gallons of water daily. Over 40 million acres of U.S. land are taken up by lawns; this compares to 20 million acres of national parks.

The machines that we use to mow our multitude of lawn areas are not required to have emission controls. By contrast, a healthy ecosystem built upon native plants produces oxygen, cleans water systems, captures carbon, builds topsoil, and prevents floods.

Another advantage to an ecosystem based on native plants is that this biosystem is friendly to pollinators, which are in trouble. As one group of pollinators, honeybees are essential to the multi-million-dollar fruit industry. The rusty-patched bumblebee population, for example, is down 90%. The solution to helping pollinators is straightforward: shrink the lawn, put in native plants, keep the dandelions (an important early source of pollen for bees), restrain from using pesticides, do not rake leaves in the fall (leaves and brush piles support larvae growth in colder months), and watch for nests.

If you are financially able, consider planting some trees in your back yard (approximately ten trees can be bought for the price of one tractor lawn mower). Tallamy uses the phrase “keystone species” to describe tree species that have a disproportionately large effect on the abundance and diversity of other species in the ecosystem. Among these keystone species are oak, cherry, and willow trees. We took a small step in this direction on our property by planting two oak trees in our backyard last fall. Such trees will host hundreds of species of caterpillars.

There is a movement in the U.S. called Homegrown National Park (, which is attempting to link individual property owners all over the U.S. to restore habitat. Most national parks are located in the western U.S., and this means that migratory corridors in the eastern side of the country are blocked to native populations of plants and animals. Conservation efforts that are confined to national parks will not preserve species in the long run because these areas are too confined and small. By associating with this movement one can make a small individual contribution to ecological restoration and collectively move us ahead with national restoration.

A local success story of ecological restoration is the pollinator garden on the west bank of the Muskingum River in Marietta near the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio rivers. Under the uniting leadership of Rebecca Phillips, scores of volunteers, public officials in Marietta, and residents of the west side have come together to plant and care for asters, cup plants, native daisies, cone flowers, and other native species. The pollinator garden has added color, land stabilization, habitat for numerous pollinators, and serves as a model for other communities.

Another opportunity we have to build our resources of native plants is the establishment of a new nursery in Mineral Wells, called Native Roots, which specializes in native plants. One of the sister owners of this nursery, Jen Johnson, opened the Mineral Wells facility in early May this year and is participating in several events to promote native plants in the region.

Continue to press your legislators to make policies that address climate change but make your own personal contribution to addressing climate change with some native plants in your own backyard.


George Banziger, Ph.D., was a faculty member at Marietta College and an academic dean at three other colleges. Now retired, he is a volunteer for Mid-Ohio Valley Interfaith, and Harvest of Hope. He is a member of the Green Sanctuary Committee of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Marietta, Citizens Climate Lobby, and of the Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action team.

Climate Corner: Trust me (you?); we collect the data

May 6, 2023

Jonathan Brier

My name is Jonathan Brier, I’m a resident of Marietta and an information scientist, but I started as a citizen scientist as a teenager. I didn’t know what I was doing would be called citizen science until years later. I still identify as a citizen scientist to this day, even though I earned a Master of Science degree in Information from the University of Michigan and spent 7.5 years pursuing a PhD in Information Studies at the University of Maryland. My reason for these studies was to help make citizen science more effective and reach more people. I’d like to introduce you to one of thousands I’ve explored.

What is citizen science, you might ask? Well, the Citizen Science Association (“”> uses the definition “Citizen science is the involvement of the public in scientific research — whether community-driven research or global investigations.” To me citizen science is an umbrella term encompassing many practices of the public engaging in science. Birders, aka people really into birdwatching (like my fiancee), often talk about the eBird citizen science project and tracking what they’ve seen and where. eBird applies sophisticated statistical checks for data quality and trust. The United Nations has identified citizen science as important to tackling the sustainable development goals and data needs ( There are growing data needs in many areas of science. Climate science is where I’m focusing today.

The project I would like to share with you is CoCoRaHS ( It is pronounced like hot chocolate ‘coco’ and ‘ra’s like the Egyptian deity, but plural. CoCoRaHS stands for Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network and started at the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University in 1998. It now has thousands of people all over North America. Ohio joined in February 2009 and West Virginia in May 2009.

CoCoRaHS participants are important as they provide local coverage of precipitation for where they live. The minimum requirements are: (a) buy one of the 4″ standard rain gauges, (b) apply to join, and (c) attend or watch a training session.

There are a few types of measurements and other tools, but the 4″ rain gauge is the basic equipment to start and costs $48. The basics to participating are to check, record, and empty the rain gauge at the same time each day and to keep a written record of your data as backup. Enter your data on the website. Quality checks are performed once your record is in the central database and they may ask you to double check your written log if something doesn’t look right. Additional low-cost materials like a ruler, wood dowel, and square of plywood painted white are other tools used in monitoring depending on the precipitation.

What data matters? Reports of zero precipitation at the same time frame each day matters as much as accurate measurement of precipitation. Why? As the report of zero still is data to confirm nothing fell instead of no data, which is a gap.

View the latest data from CoCoRaHS participants by visiting and see a report near you. By adding your backyard, farm, or other data from a location you monitor means that weather forecast models have more reliable data to base their statistical estimates from and climate models can compare their prediction to actual data over time at specific locations. Manual weather records such as ship logs, which include weather data, are one way climate scientists are able to create models of past weather and understand how our climate changes over time.

CoCoRaHS data complements automated weather stations such as those found at airports, NOAA monitoring sites, personal weather station networks like Weather Underground’s Personal Weather Station Network (, and other monitoring sites. Better data means improved forecasts for weather forecasts and crops and maybe you know someone who already relies on this data. As a community we can collect the data, trust the data because we know how it is collected, and maybe better understand the science of climate science.

Does CoCoRaHS interest you? Visit and sign up visit


Jonathan Brier is a Marietta resident, information scientist, and an Eagle Scout. He is a member of the Citizen Science Association, Association of Computing Machinery, American Association for the Advancement of Science, OpenStreetMap US, Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action, and a Wikipedia contributor. If you want to know more about citizen science or to reach him, visit or email:

Suggested Readings for May 2023

MOVCA Selected Media Postings April 2023

Compiled by Cindy Taylor

Appearing in The Marietta Times:

April 24, 2023  Local News by Clara Noelle; Photo by Clara Noelle shows Adeline Bailey with MOVCA’s tabling

“24th Earth Day celebration a success”

Image of article in Marietta Times

Appearing online in The Parkersburg News and Sentinel: 

April 27, 2023 Business Article by Steven Allen Adams

“Future of Pleasants Power still murky following PSC order”

Image of article in Parkersburg News and Sentinel

April 8, 2023    Op-Ed by Craig Straight, Pleasants Power Station production supervisor

“Op-ed: WVPSC should approve Mon Power’s temporary rate increase”

Image of article in Parkersburg News and Sentinel

Available on the Charleston Gazette-Mail:  

See full list of articles by Mike Tony, Environment and Energy Reporter

April 27, 2023 2023 Article by Mike Tony, Energy and Environment Reporter

“EPA’s first Clean Water Act enforcement action on PFAS discharges targets Chemours facility in Wood County”

   Eric Engle is quoted.

April 25, 2023 Article by Mike Tony, Energy and Environment Reporter

“PSC greenlights Mon Power, Potomac Edison talks toward Pleasant Power Station takeover, holds off on surcharge approval”

April 14, 2023 Article by Mike Tony, Energy and Environment Reporter

“FirstEnergy utilities report potential new costs, “significant risks” amid $36M rate hike proposal in Pleasants plant pursuit”

April 10, 2023 Article by Mike Tony, Energy and Environment Reporter

“FirstEnergy subsidiaries’ $36M rate hike proposal to keep Pleasants plant open drawing strong reaction”

April 1, 2023  Op-Ed by Eric Engle

“Eric Engle: Say ‘no’ to Pleasants Power Station sale”

Available on The Athens County Independent:

March 29, 2023  Article by Sam Stecklow

“Torch fracking injection wells received waste containing ‘forever chemicals’ PFAS: data”

Available on the Columbus Dispatch:

April 24, 2023 Letter-to-the Editor by Aaron Dunbar

“Public land being stolen”

Available on WTAP:

April 30, 2023 Article by Chase Campbell    Article and video

“Discussing the future of the Pleasants Power Station”

Eric Engle, MOVCA Board President, is interviewed and quoted.

April 27, 2023 Article by Chase Campbell    Article and video

“Discussing the EPA’s recent action against PFAS pollution”

Eric Engle, MOVCA Board President, is interviewed and quoted.

April 26, 2023 Article by Chase Campbell    Article and video

“Environmental Protection Agency ordering Chemours to address PFAS pollution”

April 25, 2023 Article by Chase Campbell    Article and video

“WVPSC approves interim solution to keep Pleasants Power Station open”

April 22, 2023 Article by Brittany Morgan  article and video

“WVUP Ecohawks celebrate and educate on Earth Day”

MOVCA participated in event

April 22, 2023 Feature by Jacob Krantz  video

24th annual Earth Day celebration held on Armory lawn

Available on WKBN 27 (Youngstown):

April 10, 2023  Local News: EAST PALESTINE TRAIN DERAILMENT Feature by Chelsea Simeon

 “Truck carrying toxic soil from East Palestine overturns in Columbiana County”

Available on Journal of Sustainability Education: (missing from previous media listing)

March 27, 2023 Article by Kathryn Williamson, Jamie Shinn, Deb Hemler and Sandra M. Fallon

“A Case Study for Climate Change Teacher Professional Development in West Virginia”

    “inspired by a similar effort by Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action, a West Virginia-based civic organization”

See The West Virginia Climate Change Professional Development Project (WVCCPD)

Available on West Virginians For Energy Freedom

April 26, 2023

“PSC Issues Order on Pleasants”

April 21 2023 News article by Steven Allen Adams
WV News: Public weighs in at West Virginia PSC hearing for Pleasants Power Station”

Appearing on-line on Ohio River Valley Institute

April 17, 2023  Article by Jacqueline Ebner, Ph.D., Kathy Hippie, Nick Messenger, and Irina Spector, MBA

“Green Steel in the Ohio River Valley: The Timing is Right for the Rebirth of a Clean, Green Steel Industry”

Available  on-line on WV Rivers  :

April 18, 2023 News about American Rivers (national nonprofit) report of our Nation’s most endangered rivers.

“Ohio River Named 2nd Most Endangered River”

Appearing on-line on  ReImagine Appalachia: Check out all events here:

April 28, 2023 Community Event (Zoom) Description, recording and resources links

“Full employment for All of Appalachia: Listening Session”

April 27, 2023, 2-3 pm Community Event (Zoom) Description, recording and resources links

“Solar Project Pipeline Fireside Chat”

April 18, 2023 Article by Annie Regan Links to playlists and events in PA, WV, and OH

“How to Celebrate Earth Day in Appalachia”

April 13, 2023, 1pm Community Event (Zoom) Description, recording and resources links

“Green Locomotives Can Be a Big Driver for Jobs in the Region”  Webinar

April 13, 2023 12:00 – 1:00  Community Event (Zoom) Description, recording and resources links

“Solar-Powered Faith Communities and Houses of Worship: Saving Money and Ethical Labor”

April 12, 2023 12:00 – 1:00 Community Event (Zoom) Description, recording and resources links

“Social Media 101 Training”

Available on Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services:  

See Community Democracy Resources & Tools:

See Ambassador Community 

 April 20, 2023 10-4pm in Parkersburg, WV

Available on Interfaith Power and Light:

April 24, 2023 Action Alert

“Tell EPS to Finalize Strong Mercury Pollution Protections”

April 13, 2023 Press Release

“Interfaith Power & Light Demands Accountability from Toyota Following New Electric Vehicle Announcement”

Faith Leaders delivered a letter with roughly 15,500 signatures to Toyota’s US headquarters asking the company to commit to full electrification by 2035 without exception

Available on Citizens’ Climate Lobby  :

April 27, 2023 CCL statement on House passage of IRA rollbacks

April 27, 2023 (posted) Citizens’ Climate Radio – Description  and link for listening

“Episode 83: The Not-So-Cool Effects of Air Conditioning on Climate Change”

April 20, 2023 statement on attempts to repeal IRA climate provisions

Appearing on-line on WV Public Broadcasting or WOUB (PBS) or WVXU or NPR:

April 20, 2023  Associated Press Environment feature

“The U.S. plans new protections for old forests facing pressure from climate change”

April 20, 2023  Climate feature by Seyma Bayram

“The Colorado and Ohio rivers are among the ‘most endangered’ in America. Here’s why”

April 16, 2023 Jeff Brady feature text and audio. Heard on All Things Considered

“A 15-year-old law would end fossil fuels in federal buildings, but it’s on hold”

April 6, 2023 Article by Gabriel Scotto

“Ohio University researchers will use a federal grant to find environmentally friendly uses for coal”


Available on EarthJustice:

April 5, 2023 Press Release

“EPA Moves to Strengthen Protections Against Toxic Power Plant Pollution”

Available on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

April 26, 2023 EPA Press Release

“EPA takes first-ever federal Clean Water Act enforcement action to address PFAS discharges at Washington Works facility near Parkersburg, W. Va.”

Tool available from EPA

EJScreen: EPA’s Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool

Available online from The Guardian:

April 25, 2023 Article by Fiona Harvey, Environmental editor

“John Kerry: relying on technology to remove carbon dioxide is ‘dangerous’”

April 19, 2023 Article by Nina Kakhani

“Nearly 120 million people in US exposed to unhealthy levels of soot and smog- report”

American Lung Association’s study also found great disparity between coasts, with 10 of 11 most polluted counties in California

April 7, 2023 Article by Nina Lakhani

“Green groups sue to stop Ohio from leasing state parks for oil and gas drilling”

April 6, 2023 Article by Damian Carrington, Environment editor

“ ‘Forever chemicals’ linked to infertility in women, study shows”

March 19, 2023 Climate Crisis Article by Oliver Milman  (omitted from last month’s report)

“ ‘We have money and power’: older Americans to blockade banks in climate protest”

Available on Inside Climate News:

April 4, 2023 Politics & Policy Article by Phil McKenna, Emma Ricketts

“Environmental Advocates Protest Outside EPA Headquarters Over the Slow Pace of New Climate and Clean Air Regulations”

April 3, 2023 Science Article by Phil McKenna

“Potent Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depleting Chemicals Called CFCs Are Back on the Rise Following an International Ban, a New Study Finds”

March 21, 2023 Justice Article by James Bruggers (omitted last month report)

“From Gas Wells to Rubber Ducks to Incineration, the Plastics Lifecycle Causes ‘Horrific Harm’ to the Planet and People, Report Shows”

Available on E 8 E NEWS:

April 21, 2023 Article by E.A. Crunden ;  Emma Dumain

“Biden order tackles environmental justice”

Available on Science and Environmental Health Network

April 24, 2023

“April 2023 Networker: A Fracked Nation” Editor’s note- Carmi Orenstein, MPH, CHPHY Program Director, SEHN

April 24, 2023 Feature by Sandra Steingraber, SEHN senior scientist

“The RePercussion Section: A Short History of Fracking”

April 24, 2023 Orenstein has conversation with Ranjana Bhandari, Founder and Ex. Director. Of Liveable Arlington

“The Moral Urgency of Stopping this Intergenerational Theft”


Available online on Grist:

April 21, 2023 Article by Kate Yoder, Staff writer

“A common talking point about climate change gets it all wrong, new study says”

Available from American Rivers

 “America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2023”

#2 Ohio River:

Available on Union of Concerned Scientists:

April 24, 2023  Article by John Rogers, Energy Campaign Analytic Lead

“Renewables Have Pulled Ahead of Coal. What’s Next?”

Research Available from American Lung Association:

2023 State of the Air

Available from Co2.Earth:

See Earth’s CO2 Home Page:

 Measurements from Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii (NOAA):  421.00ppm in March 2023; 418.81ppm March 2022

April 13, 2023 CSAS / GISS  Global Warming Update

Available online on World Meteorological Organization (WMO):

April 21, 2023 Press release by WMO

“WMO annual report highlights continuous advance of climate change”

April 19, 2023 Press release by WMO

“New study shows Earth energy imbalance”

April 13, 2023 Press release by WMO

“It was the second joint warmest March on record”


Available from Rewire America

See a great calculator on what you can save in IRA tax credits and rebates.

“YOUR  SAVINGS CALCULATOR: How much money can you get with the Inflation Reduction Act?”

Available from Appalachian Solar Finance Fund Supported by Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Initiative.   and

The Solar Finance Fund (SSF) provides grants and technical assistance to unlock the economic development potential of otherwise viable solar projects that face barriers unique to Central Appalachia. Eligible applicants include nonprofit organizations, public entities and local businesses that serve as community anchors.

Contact Autumn Long at

Available from Yale Climate Connections:

April 28, 2023 Article about new tool available from American Forests. Text with links and Audio by YCC team

“This tool helps communities identify areas lacking trees – and advocate for more” (available from American Forests)

April 28, 2023 Article by Michael Svoboda

“A grove of tree books for Arbor Day”

April 19, 2023 Article by Samantha Harrington

“’In every breath we take’: How climate change impacts pollen allergies”

April 18, 2023 Article by Donald Wright

“In ‘No Miracles Needed,’ the technical solutions to climate change are clear. The political ones? Not so much”

April 14, 2023 Article by Dana Nuccitelli

“Drastic climate action is the best course for economic growth, new study finds”

April 12, 2023 Article by Daisy Simmons

“Where to find training, fellowships, and classes on climate journalism”

Climate Corner: What’s food got to do with climate change?

Apr 29, 2023

Linda Eve Seth

Cutting food waste is a delicious way of saving money, helping to feed the world and protecting the planet. — Tristram Stuart


What we eat, and how that food is produced, affects our health, of course, but also the health of the environment.

Food needs to be grown, processed, transported, distributed, prepared, consumed, and often disposed of. Each of these steps creates greenhouse gases (GHG) that trap the sun’s heat and contribute to climate change.

We waste 1 billion tons of food every year. That’s a disaster for the planet. About a third of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions is linked to food. Reducing food waste is one of the most accessible, impactful climate solutions.

For many people in the world, food waste has become a habit: buying more food than we need at markets, letting fruits and vegetables spoil at home or taking/ordering larger portions than we can eat. Habits like those put extra strain on our natural resources and damage our environment. When we waste food, we waste the labor, effort, investment and precious resources (water, seeds, feed, etc.) that go into producing it, in addition to the resources that go into transporting and processing it. The result: wasting food increases GHG emissions and contributes to climate change.

Wasted food, no matter the cause, ultimately ends up in landfills, where it generates methane, an invisible, odorless gas with more than 80 times more warming power in the near-term than carbon dioxide, effectively helping accelerate climate change.

By some accounts, 20% of total GHG emissions annually is linked to food production. which means that agriculture contributes more than any other sector, including energy and transportation, to climate change. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN estimates that if food waste were a country, its GHG emissions would be the third highest in the world! Another way to look at the issue: Most of us generate more planet-warming emissions from eating than we do from driving or flying.

Reducing food loss and waste presents a simple. accessible opportunity for immediate climate benefits while simultaneously improving the overall sustainability of our food systems — a necessary transformation to ensure better planetary and nutritional outcomes for current and future generations.

It’s up to each of us to change our habits to make not wasting food a way of life! In the U.S. and beyond, food is wasted along all parts of the supply chain. A variety of local strategies and tools can be used to tackle this issue, including preventing food waste, connecting wholesome excess food to those who need it, and composting food scraps. People often wonder what they as individuals can possibly do to aid the world in the fight against climate change. Here are some easy actions you can take to re-connect to food and help the planet:

Buy only what you need: Plan your meals. Make a shopping list and stick to it, and avoid impulse buys: waste less food, and save money!

Pick ugly fruit and vegetables: Oddly-shaped or bruised fruits and vegetables are often thrown away because they don’t meet arbitrary cosmetic standards. Don’t worry – they taste the same! Use mature fruit for smoothies, juices and desserts.

Understand food labelling: There’s a big difference between “best before” and “use-by” dates. Sometimes food is still safe to eat after the “best before” date, whereas it’s the “use-by” date that tells you when it is no longer safe to eat.

Start small: Take smaller portions at home or share large dishes at restaurants.

Love your leftovers: If you don’t eat everything you make, freeze it for later or use the leftovers as an ingredient in another meal. You also can use your leftovers and food scraps to start a compost pile; Then use that rich organic matter to fertilize your own vegetable garden.

Changing our habits regarding food production and consumption is one very simple, but important, thing each of us can do! Every citizen can be part of the solution to combat climate change through thoughtful food consumption and processing of food wastes.

Until next time, be kind to your Mother Earth.

Climate Corner:‘The most wonderful time to be alive’

Apr 22, 2023

Jean Ambrose

Botanist and bestselling author Robin Wall Kimmerer was recently in Athens, lecturing on indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and what we can learn from plants and the natural world. As both a scientist and a registered member of the Potawatomie tribe, she has unique advice for us as we mark Earth Day today.

Straddling two worlds, Kimmerer learned that scientists might learn about the natural world, but in her tradition people learned from the natural world. Take mosses, for example. Mosses have stayed basically unchanged for more than 450,000 years, while more than 99% of all species have gone extinct. Such resilience is unmatched and Kimmerer wrote an entire book on what we can learn from mosses in a time many species are standing on the brink of extinction. Learning from moss is difficult for those who think of humanity as the dominant species, but the humility that allows us to be a student of the Earth rather than her conqueror permits us to observe, learn, and be changed.

Kimmerer had advice for what we can do:

* Raise a garden because of all you will learn.

* Raise children to love and learn from the Earth.

* Raise a ruckus.

The first Earth Day in 1970 didn’t happen through government action but was a spontaneous global movement prompted by seeing the first pictures of our beautiful planet against the black void of space.

The Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, the Environmental Protection Agency, the protection of endangered species, and much more was sparked by our visceral need to protect our fragile planet and was accomplished in a bipartisan manner under Richard Nixon. We who participated in that first Earth Day 50 years ago were sure that we would have solved the threats to the Earth by now.

Speaking for her generation, Alayna Garst, the sophomore Climate Ambassador at Williamstown High School writes “These past few years, we have watched as wildfires destroyed the beautiful landscapes of Australia and California, turning the sky orange and the hills into barren wastelands. 467 species have gone extinct and 14% of the world’s coral reefs have been killed in just the past ten years. The climate crisis can feel hopeless. So what if I use a plastic straw or buy fast fashion, when everything is literally on fire? Does it really make a difference if I carpool to work, when only 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions?

“Given the dire consequences of our past actions, we can waste our energy wishing we could prevent the Industrial Revolution from ever happening, or that we had started to act 30 or even 20 years ago. However, the best time to act is now because it’s all we have.

“Fear mongering and doomsday talk only hurt the movement to stop climate change. Polling from September 2020 showed that more than half of adults in the U.S. were anxious about how climate change affects their mental health. And nearly 40% of surveyed Gen Z Americans, born after 1996, said addressing climate change is their top personal concern. While this anxiety can lead to action, all too often it leads to paralysis in the face of something we perceive to be too far gone or outside of our control. It is important to maintain a positive, healthy mindset and realize the battle is not over. There is still time and that time is now.”

Alayna isn’t giving up and neither can we. This Earth Day, make it a point to talk to a young person about their relationship to the natural world. You may be surprised at their answers, like Dr. Kimmerer was, when a graduating student of hers told her not to despair because “This is the most wonderful time to be alive.” When asked how she could believe that, the student said, “It’s like the old Wiley Coyote cartoons where Wiley is standing on a teeter totter over a precipice. It matters where I stand. Every choice I make matters, everything I do matters.”

On this Earth Day, get outside. And remember, everything you do makes a difference to our Earth, our common home.


Jean Ambrose is trying not to be a criminal ancestor.

Climate Corner: West Virginia Public Service Commission must say no

Apr 15, 2023

Eric Engle

First Energy West Virginia subsidiaries MonPower and PotomacEdison want their ratepayers to pay $36 million between June of this year and May 2024 to place the Pleasants Power Station in a state of “warm storage” (aka not generating energy), energy that is generated for Ohio customers even when operational, while First Energy decides whether or not to purchase the plant and keep it running over the long-term. This is a terrible idea that the West Virginia Public Service Commission should not allow.

A writer in last week’s edition of the Parkersburg News and Sentinel who is a plant employee argued that warm storage is a responsible option for coal plants instead of permanently shutting them down because coal’s baseload power is needed when power demands can’t be met by other sources. The writer mentioned the power demands placed on grids last Christmas when an Arctic blast of cold weather hit the nation and that coal plants were fired back up across Europe to meet energy demands recently when Russian natural gas became more scarce with Putin’s war in Ukraine. Those arguments are fallacious.

According to a report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) from March, “more than 100,000 megawatts of coal-and-gas-fired generation failed to start or were forced offline during the Arctic blast that hit the central and eastern U.S. just before Christmas.” Dennis Wamsted, IEEFA energy analyst and author of the report, Fossil Fuels Fail Reliability Test, stated in a media release that “Coal-and-gas-fired resources’ performance in December show how unreliable they can be exactly when they are needed most. The increasingly troublesome record of performance needs to be accounted for in utility transmission system planning efforts.”

In Europe, energy for heating was the biggest challenge as the onslaught of Russian aggression in Ukraine led the Putin regime to cut off some of Europe’s gas supplies. This is a challenge Europe is now beginning to meet with heat pumps and energy efficiency and the deployment of more renewables. The electric heat pump market in Europe has exploded since 2021. The International Energy Agency has found that coal use in Europe is expected to decline below 2020 levels by 2025, at the latest.

Last week’s writer also mentioned intermittency issues with renewables like solar and wind. That’s where battery storage, grid management, and energy efficiency come in. Even West Virginia’s Republican supermajority in the state legislature and coal baron governor can see the importance of battery technology, as evidenced by the efforts and expenditures made to bring Form Energy’s iron-air, long-lasting battery manufacturing facility to Weirton. Investments in such technologies are booming in West Virginia, thanks to the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and especially the Inflation Reduction Act. And renewables are already coming in cheaper than coal. A study released in January by Energy Innovation Policy and Technology, LLC, found that every coal plant in operation in West Virginia could be replaced with wind and solar at a lower cost. In the case of the Pleasants Power Station, the study found regional wind energy could replace its generation at a cost that is $10.37 lower per megawatt-hour for customers.

It’s often pointed out that the Pleasants Power Station employs more than 154 people. As a longtime union steward, I want to see jobs and livelihoods protected, but in this case that is the responsibility of First Energy and the state and federal governments. Why can’t First Energy help these employees make the transition and why did the state legislature pass a resolution saying the sale of Pleasants from First Energy’s Ohio subsidiary, Energy Harbor, to its West Virginia subsidiaries go through on the backs of ratepayers instead of focusing on protecting theses workers’ futures? When this same sale failed to go through in 2017, the state legislature’s only response was a $12.5 million a year tax break on the backs of West Virginia taxpayers to delay the inevitable. Why wasn’t the focus on the workers and local communities’ long-term interests then?

Another important question is why the environment and public health always take a backseat ride in these discussions. According to the U.S. EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory, the Pleasants Power Station released 2.4 million tons of toxic chemicals in 2021, mostly through ground contamination. According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data, there is now 50% more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than in preindustrial times and an enormous proportion of that is attributable directly to coal use. We cannot dismiss the settled science of anthropogenic (human-caused) global climate change and the threats it poses or the extremely dire negative effects of coal on our air, water, soil and health. First Energy wants us to bear the costs of cleaning up those effects as ratepayers and taxpayers instead of their shareholders shouldering the responsibility.

On April 25, the West Virginia Public Service Commission must say no to another dirty deal that threatens our energy finances, health, and the very habitability of our only home in the cosmos.


Eric Engle is chairman of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action.

Climate Corner: Climate change and your allergies

Apr 8, 2023

Rebecca Phillips

The Mid-Ohio Valley has long been known for the prevalence of respiratory woes, particularly the notorious “Ohio Valley Crud,” often a result of seasonal allergies. Unfortunately, there is bad news for allergy sufferers: Climate change is making allergy season longer and more intense, and is almost certain to continue to do so.

Researchers from Rutgers University noted in 2014 that pollen season length increased by three days just in the first decade of this century, with pollen counts rising by 40% in that same period. These phenomena are caused by rising temperatures–in other words, climate change — and increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. Warmer temperatures lead to more frost-free days, with trees blooming earlier and the first frost coming later. Our area now experiences on average nine more frost-free days than it did in 1999. Oak pollen arrives earlier, as does grass pollen. Ragweed pollen lasts longer into the fall.

Ragweed, that bane of so many people’s existence, is not just blooming longer; it is also producing more pollen. USDA scientist Lewis Ziska has found that increased CO2 levels cause ragweed plants to become larger, bloom more heavily, and therefore produce more pollen–somewhere around a billion grains per plant. Not only does it serve as fertilizer: CO2 causes the pollen to produce more of the protein that causes the allergic reaction. Not good news for us.

And the news gets worse. If current emission levels continue, some climate scientists are predicting a 200% increase in total pollen this century, with pollen seasons nearly sixty days longer in some places, particularly the northern U.S. Pollen seasons will overlap, with more varieties in the air at any given time, leading to increased exposure and increased sensitivity for allergy sufferers.

Rising temperatures and humidity are also causing increases in the growth of molds and fungi, yet more allergy triggers. The more intense thunderstorms many places are experiencing coincide with more emergency room visits for allergic asthma; some research indicates that the winds are rupturing pollen grains and allowing them to penetrate more deeply into people’s lungs. Respiratory allergies are worse in areas with compromised air quality, such as the Mid-Ohio Valley.

We joke about our “crud,” but it is no laughing matter. Nearly a third of the world’s population suffers from respiratory allergies, and the Cleveland Clinic reports recent increases in those numbers. In addition to the very real human suffering, allergic rhinitis (the medical name for the crud) has an economic impact, estimated at more than $3.4 billion in annual medical costs in the U.S. alone. Allergy sufferers miss an average of 3.6 days of work per year and are less productive at work when ill. The annual cost of asthma (not always allergy-related) is more than $80 billion, and over 4,000 Americans die from asthma attacks each year.

We can reduce this suffering and these staggering costs by reducing the carbon emissions currently serving as weed fertilizer. This valley will always have pollen season, but we do not have to keep making the situation worse.

Rebecca Phillips is a member of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action.

Climate Corner: Becoming prepared for the next disaster

Apr 1, 2023

Callie Lyons

We have seen it happen time and again. Shell, IEI, train derailments like East Palestine, untold environmental accidents and disasters – and each of them a threat to our homes, our families, our health and our lives. What could be more important?

Yet each time it happens, we find ourselves in the void that occurs when we wait for the government to act and provide us with potentially lifesaving information. Valuable moments when action could be taken are sacrificed to uncertainty. Evacuation orders are late. Exposure overwhelms before culprits are identified and appropriate responses determined.

We can do better.

No longer should we be at the mercy of the government and the great unknown over such horrific incidents. If the history of C8 contamination in the valley has taught us anything, it’s that the U.S. EPA is not going to save us from harm. Watchers of the movie “Dark Waters” are no doubt familiar with attorney Rob Bilott’s famous words: “Who protects us? We do.”

It’s time we do.

Observing the examples of other communities faced with similar challenges, there is a path forward made possible because of modern technology and the availability of citizen science monitoring tools. We cannot wait for the next catastrophe. Advance work is required. We must be organized and prepared.

The strategy is simple. Form a team with the training, assets and infrastructure to respond immediately in a coordinated manner to document incidents, collect data, communicate information to the impacted public and work with experts to provide independent analysis and community safety and health recommendations.

We will need a small army of volunteers including nature observers and river watchers, sniffers and samplers, mappers and communicators. Add to that a process for reporting observations and developments, equipment and training for sampling air and water and a basic framework for coordinating community involvement.

One shining example of this is the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, which was formed in 2000 to support communities whose health and homes were being compromised by the petrochemical industry. Among the tools developed by the group is a Bucket, a low-cost air sampling tool approved by the EPA, and the iWitness Pollution map, a crowdsourcing tool used to document pollution.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel. An effective process has been defined by others like the founders of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade who are more than willing to share their expertise.

We need to learn from the past and prepare for the future. It is time for the Mid-Ohio Valley to have its own coordinated citizen response team — and it needs to happen before disaster strikes again.

Are you in?


Callie Lyons is a journalist and author living in the Mid-Ohio Valley. She is currently the chief researcher for the Murdaugh Murders Podcast. Her 2007 book, “Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal: The Hidden Dangers of C8,” was the first book to reveal the prevalence and danger of the PFAS family of highly fluorinated compounds used by industry in the manufacture of Teflon and thousands of other consumer applications.