Climate Corner: Gifting for the planet made easy

Dec 2, 2023

Jean Ambrose

I don’t know about you, but for many years I had anxiety attacks on Black Friday because I knew there were only three weeks left to purchase gifts for Christmas. My stress level skyrocketed. Too often I would run out of time and grab something I wasn’t happy about that was probably discarded soon after it was opened.

Since I became involved in the climate movement as a member of MOV Climate Action, a new world of gifting possibilities has opened. I can share my passion about reducing waste, especially single use plastic. I can share products and practices that might encourage the recipients to change habits that contribute to the climate crisis, to those that don’t.

I’ve done some research to help you step on this new path. Let’s think about the whole gift giving experience to give you some benchmarks to make decisions: How can we green the whole process of shopping, wrapping, and disposal?

Shopping: Make sure you minimize your own waste and take reusable shopping bags and your water bottle. Avoid overly packaged products; those wrappings typically can’t be recycled.

Keep it local; you’ll reduce your use of CO2 for shipping and also provide much-needed support for local artisans and businesses.

The website Done Good ( has vetted more than 100 businesses and makes it easy and affordable to use your purchasing power for good. They list companies that are committed to creating high quality products that are good for the people who make them and good for the planet.

Reused (or pre-loved!) gifts can come from your own household, thrift stores, or even online resellers that specialize in vintage and secondhand goods. Places to start: thredUP, Poshmark, VarageSale, and of course eBay

Wrapping: That shiny paper can’t be recycled, so think about recycled or reusable options. Repurpose what you have around the house–newspapers and magazines, pillowcases, napkins, recycled paper decorated by your kids. Or make the wrapping part of the gift, such as a reusable shopping bag or gift bag, a scarf, or mason jar. Use natural decorations such as pine cones and branches, dried flowers, or leaves.

Less is More: Everything we buy is a choice that can contribute to a healthy future for our planet and our grandchildren. Avoid last minute plastic trinkets or gag gifts that will end up in the trash. Homemade gifts and long lasting quality items will be meaningful and not forgotten, especially if they demonstrate your knowledge of the recipients and their interests.

Share Your concern for the Planet through your gifts. There are small companies specializing in rethinking everyday products to be as close to zero waste as possible. A gift pack of zero waste laundry detergent, soaps, cleaning supplies, and personal care items with subscription refills will support new habits. Companies like Net Zero, BlueLand, and Free the Ocean provide alternatives to heavy plastic packaging. Think about the small changes you have made in your own life — cloth napkins, reusable shopping bags, bamboo plates and tableware — and help your loved ones take that step to more aware consumption habits.

If you have people who garden on your list, share a bag of homemade compost along with directions on how you fit composting into your own lifestyle.

Some people are replacing gifts with contributions to non-profit organizations made in honor of the person you are gifting. Heifer International makes grants of livestock to low-income families to increase their self-sufficiency. A child could help pick the gift of rabbits, chickens, goats, or lambs to be made in their name. If you plan to make this change to charitable contributions instead of gifts, let your recipients know ahead of time with an early card or message so they will know you’re not giving personal gifts this year.

Help move the people you love off fossil fuels by buying them electric tools and appliances. Check out the Electric Gift Guide put out by Rewiring America for ideas to electrify all aspects of our households. (Companies like Home Depot are making a major shift to all-electric lawn care equipment.)

Let’s make this the year we refuse to succumb to the holiday consumer mania, and spend with the people we love, our planet and our community in mind!


Jean Ambrose is trying not to be a criminal ancestor.

Climate Corner: ‘Blue’ hydrogen is not the answer

Nov 25, 2023

Eric Engle

I’m writing this weekend’s Climate Corner column in response to a column from last weekend’s edition of the Parkersburg News and Sentinel regarding the Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen (ARCH2) hub proposed for the Ohio River Valley. Before I directly address ARCH2, though, I’d like to make a few things clear.

I myself am a union steward and a recruiter/membership coordinator for my union chapter. My maternal grandfather was a union member who worked for Pennzoil in the oil fields of Calhoun County. My father was a union member at an area plastics plant from which he retired. I had numerous family members and loved ones who were union members at the Ames plant in Davisville before it closed down.

Speaking not only for myself but for Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action as an organization, we stand unwaveringly with organized labor and want union contracts and collective bargaining rights to be economy-wide. We deeply admire what the United Auto Workers, SAG-AFTRA and numerous other unions across the country have accomplished this year with a record number of strikes and labor actions.

When it comes to ARCH2, unfortunately, it’s just not the promising initiative last week’s writer suggested. This is not because hydrogen production itself is a bad idea or negative thing; hydrogen shows immense promise in decarbonizing hard-to-decarbonize sectors like steel and cement-making, international shipping and aviation. The problem here is with what is referred to as “blue” hydrogen, which is hydrogen derived from methane gas by splitting off the carbon atoms and utilizing carbon capture and storage technology to address the resulting carbon dioxide emissions.

First of all, blue hydrogen production will increase the demand for methane gas obtained by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays in our region. Fracking is extraordinarily polluting, dangerous and destructive from start to finish. For a deep dive into the huge array of harms from fracking, please check out the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking and Associated Gas and Oil Infrastructure, ninth edition, at The compendium is published annually by Concerned Health Professionals of New York, a program of the Science and Environmental Health Network, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Secondly, in large part because of fracking, but also because of unaddressed methane emissions, a 2021 study by Robert W. Howarth of Cornell University and Mark Jacobson of Stanford University found that blue hydrogen has a 20% greater greenhouse gas footprint than burning natural gas or coal directly for heat and some 60% greater than burning diesel oil for heat. This study even assumed that carbon dioxide can be stored indefinitely, which the authors described as “an optimistic and unproven assumption.”

“Unproven” is a word you’ll hear a lot regarding carbon capture and storage technologies and processes. A more apt word, after decades of research and years of federal subsidies, would be “disproven.” Carbon capture and storage has not been shown to successfully capture and store even a fraction of the CO2 necessary to make any difference in reaching the emissions reduction goals of any nation. For a deeper dive into the dangers, immense costs and lack of viability of carbon capture and storage, please visit, a website created and administered by the Science and Environmental Health Network.

What’s happening at other proposed hydrogen hubs across the country and allegedly for parts of ARCH2 is the production of what is referred to as “green” hydrogen. Green hydrogen is derived from separation of water molecules using an electrolysis process powered by renewable energies like solar and wind. This should be the only method of hydrogen production utilized by the ARCH2 project. Institutional Shareholder Services, an international shareholder advisory firm, cited estimates that green hydrogen will be more cost effective than blue hydrogen by or before 2030 in its finding that there is “significant risk of stranded assets for blue hydrogen investments” in a 2022 analysis.

Producing green hydrogen can still create good-paying, union jobs in the Ohio River Valley, but the economic potential doesn’t stop there. A report for the Ohio River Valley Institute (ORVI) titled “Green Steel in the Ohio River Valley” found that switching to fossil fuel-free direct reduced iron-electric arc furnace (DRI-EAF) steelmaking fueled by green hydrogen would boost total steelmaking jobs by 27% to 43% by 2031 with nearly zero climate-warming emissions.

Hydrogen isn’t all that shows true, clean economic promise. A study titled “A Bigger Bang Approach to Economic Development” by the Ohio State University Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy found that “A new economic development model centering on high-multiplier investments in energy efficiency, weatherization, distributed generation, and education could help struggling Appalachian communities spark job, population, and income growth.” You can read the complete studies referenced above at

The answers to our economic woes are not to be found in shale gas and oil. To quote from the ORVI website, “Since the beginning of the shale gas boom in 2008, the largest gas-producing counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have lost more than 10,000 net jobs and nearly 47,000 residents.” The ORVI information continues, “Efforts to spark a petrochemical renaissance with the region’s abundant natural gas reserves have similarly produced poor economic outcomes.”

Some $169 million is being made available under the Defense Production Act by the Department of Energy’s Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains to build 15 heat pump manufacturing facilities across the U.S., including Ohio and Pennsylvania. Heat pump units both heat and cool homes very efficiently and effectively and can make great replacements for gas utilities as the price of the units continues to fall and point-of-purchase subsidies are provided for households under the Inflation Reduction Act.

ARCH2 isn’t a done deal. More community engagement is being planned, and changes can be made. Blue hydrogen, though, isn’t the answer.


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

Climate Corner: Investigating your environment

Nov 18, 2023

Callie Lyons

Every time I consider Diane Cotter’s story, I am encouraged. Diane is the person who identified the turnout gear used by firefighters as a major source of exposure to toxic chemicals — and one with far reaching health implications for the fire service. When her husband was battling cancer, she set out to discover the cause. Her questions, persistence, and alliances with world class experts resulted in a new understanding of these exposure issues and their serious capacity for causing harm. Diane’s story is told in a new documentary titled “Burned.”

Diane had no prior training or experience to guide her actions. She was driven by a love of family and the courage of her convictions. And, so it was that a determined woman with a hairdresser’s license cracked the chemical secret so many scientists overlooked.

The journey began with a burning question. What caused her husband’s cancer? Kitchen table environmental investigations often begin when a family member is suffering from a health problem for which the origin is a mystery.

In that spirit, here are some recommendations for anyone who finds themselves investigating their own environmental situation. While there are endless situations to be explored by dedicated citizens, the good news lies in the availability of information and tools for embarking on such an investigation

  1. Take a look around. Examine your situation and define the problem or reason for investigation. Diane began by closely examining her husband’s turnout gear, which prompted a number of questions
  2. Identify the suspects. Know your environmental influences. From industrial emissions on the edge of town to the mold under your kitchen sink, gather the data and develop an awareness of potential culprits. Using online resources like the Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database, you can identify specific contaminants and sources that may be impacting your health — or the health of loved ones. Identify those areas that require further study — or testing. Diane was aware that a controversy was brewing over the potential health consequences of exposure to highly fluorinated chemicals. This awareness prompted her to wonder whether this class of chemicals had a role in the fire service.
  3. Document everything. Track symptoms, environmental changes (like visible changes, smells, etc), and weather fluctuations. Keep the data in a journal for easy access. Use your phone to keep track of information and to take pictures of relevant data.
  4. Collect your own data and perform relevant sampling. This digital age provides the availability of many tools that can be used to assess the health of air, water, etc.
  5. Engage with experts. Groups like Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action are populated with individuals who have a variety of experience and expertise on issues that may be relevant to your situation. These people can be a valuable resource in your search for answers.

Finally, don’t be afraid to look into an issue that may be critical to your life. If you wait for the government via regulatory agencies to step in and fix things, you are going to be disappointed every time. The pace of science bogged down by politics and systems is far too slow to bring about meaningful change — particularly in the face of a crisis. Look no further than the calamity at East Palestine as an example of these failures. Agencies established in the interest of the herd are not about saving your family or your loved one. But, you are. Thus, you are uniquely positioned to be the change that your world needs.

Sometimes information leads to simple solutions — a water filter that will reduce or remove the problem, an air filtration system that will bolster the health of your household. These solutions are discovered through investigation.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all environment. Vulnerable populations, allergies, and an endless number of unknowns can complicate your situation and potential outcomes. The key is to find the answers that will fit your needs and improve the health and environment for the ones you love.


Callie Lyons is the author of the 2007 book, “Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal: The Hidden Dangers of C8,” which chronicles the discovery of PFAS or highly fluorinated compounds in Mid-Ohio Valley water supplies and beyond. She is a journalist and researcher for FITSNews and the FITSFiles true crime and corruption podcast.

Suggested Readings for November 2023

MOVCA Selected Media Postings October 2023

Compiled by Cindy Taylor

Appearing online in The Parkersburg News and Sentinel:

October 14, 2023 Business News by Evan Bevins, Staff Reporter

“Mid-Ohio Valley officials react to Appalachian Hydrogen Hub Announcement”

October 14, 2023 Business News by Steven Allen Adams

“West Virginia officials, skeptics react to Appalachian Hydrogen Hub Announcement”

October 7, 2023  Community News  Staff Report

“Fair Shake Environmental Services readies workshop for Community Democracy Ambassadors’

Available on WTAP:

October 13, 2023 Article by Alex Semancik

“West Virginia selected as Appalachian hydrogen hub’

October 10, 2023 Article by Chase Campbell text and video

“EPA: W.Va, state regulators missed over 300 streams in list of ailing waters”

Available on the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

See articles by Mike Tony, Environment and Energy Reporter:

October 29, 2023 Article by Fred Pace

“PSC Approves Solar Energy Project in Mason County”

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

“Warning signs loom over fossil fuel-powered Appalachian hydrogen hub’

October 25, 2023 Article by Mike Tony (Eric Engle, board president of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action. is quoted”

“Appalachian regional hub information leaves renewable energy advocates concerned after Department of Energy-hosted briefing”

October 2023 Op-Ed by Eric Engle (print only- not available digitally)

“Fossil fuels breaking the planet and the bank”

Available on Mountain State Spotlight:

October 20, 2023   Environment Article by Sarah Elbeshbishi

“Millions in federal funding to help West Virginia tackle orphaned and abandoned oil wells doesn’t go far enough”

 Available on

October 13, 2023 News Article by Sabrina Eaton

“Ohio lands projects as part of new Appalachian federal ‘clean hydrogen hub’

Available on Athens County INDEPENDENT:

October 19, 2023 Article by Dani Kington

“ODNR warns of ‘calamity’ as Torch injection wells resume operation pending appeal”

Available on The Appalachian Voice:

October 23, 2023 Article originally published in Public News Service on Oct. 19, 2023

“Activists Rally Over Pending Fracking on Ohio’s State Lands”

October 4, 2023 News article by Nadia Ramiagan, Public News Service

“Report: Blue Hydrogen hype not backed up by science”

Available on Save Ohio Parks:

October 21, 2023 (posted) of Randi Pokladnik’s October 21st Parkersburg News and Sentinel Article with added photo

“Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Corner: Save Ohio Parks”

October 11, 2023  Press release by Melinda Zemper

“Save Ohio Parks Announces October 27 Statehouse rally for State Parks, Climate and Democracy”


Available on Statehouse News Bureau: The Ohio Newsroom

October 18, 2023 News Article by Erin Gottsacker

“Ohio now has more ‘old growth’ forests than any other state. Here’s why that matters”


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

October 27, 2023 Article by Curtis Tate

“PSC Approves 100-Megawatt Solar Farm in Mason County”


October 25, 2023 Article by Curtis Tate

“State Gets EPA Funding To Address ‘Forever Chemicals’ In Drinking Water”


October 19, 2023 Article by Curtis Tate

“Mountain Valley Pipeline Cost Rises to $7.2 Billion, Completion Delayed”


October 5, 2023   Article by Scott Neuman Text and link to audio heard on Morning Edition

“New technology uses good old-fashion wind to power giant cargo vessels”


Available on Ohio River Valley Institute:

October 13, 2023  Statement by ORVI Staff

“Statement on Federal Funding for the Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub”

“ARCH 2 Blue Hydrogen Hub Threatens Higher Costs with Few Jobs, Continued Emissions”

Available on WV NEWS:

October 18, 2023 Article by Dan Conant, Founder and CEO of Solar Holler

“Protect solar and West Virginia’s new energy economy”

Available on West Virginians for Energy Freedom

2023 Article about issue of Net Metering  with action link.
“Power companies have a plan to kill solar in West Virginia”

Appearing on-line on ReImagine Appalachia:

October 24, 2023  Article written by Ted Boettner, Senior Researcher at Ohio River Valley Institute

“Getting Unions Connected to Orphaned Well Clean Up: Second Bite at the Apple”

October 24, 2023, 1pm Virtual Event hosted by Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, Appalachian Voices, National Wildlife Federation and ReImagine Appalachia. Description with link to recording and powerpoint.

“Reforesting Mine Lands: How the Forestry Reclamation Approach Works for Coal Communities”

October 14, 2023 10- 4pm  Symposium at Slack Plaza in Charleston, WV

“Sustainability in Motion: Ecovibe Symposium”

October 5, 2023, 3- 5 pm  Event- Listening Session   Description with link to recordings

“ReImagining Shuttered Coal Plants Summit”

Appearing on Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services:

October 25, 2023  Article by Daniel Weimer, Fair Shake Legal Intern

“West Virginia Zoning Case’s Potential Impact on Local Control of Oil and Gas Activities”

“SWN Production Company, LLC V. city of Weirton and City of Weirton Board of Zoning Appeals’

Available on Energy News Network US – Midwest

October 9, 2023 Article by Kathiann M. Kowalski

“Cleveland green bank aims to bring clean energy to underserved communities”

 October 5, 2023 Article by Kathiann M. Kowalski

“How efforts to restrict democracy in Ohio also make it harder to fight climate change”

 Available on Senate Committee On Energy & Natural Resources:

October 13, 2023 News announcement

“Manchin Announces West Virginia Selected as New Home of Appalachian Hydrogen Hub”

Available on Time,com:

October 13, 2023  Climate Policy Article by Matthey Daly and Marc Levy, AP

“Biden Awards $7 Billion for Clean Hydrogen Hubs to Help Replace Fossil Fuels”

Available on E & E NEWS by Politico:

October 19, 2023 Article by Carlos Anchondo

“Mountain Valley pipeline delayed: 4 questions answered”

Available on

#StopMVP Solidarity Month.  News, Descriptions and Opportunity to join Actions and links to videos

“Stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline”

Available on Inside Climate News:

October 20, 2023 Fossil Fuels article by Jon Hurdle

“Research by Public Health Experts Shows ‘Damning’ Evidence on the Harms of Fracking”

October 12, 2023 Inside Clean Energy article by Dan Gearino with link to research article published in Nature

“A Reality Check About Solar Panel Waste and the Effects on Human Health”

Available on The Guardian:

October 27, 2023 PFAS Article by Tom Perkins

“New ‘forever chemicals’ polluting water near North Carolina plant, study finds”

October 11, 2023 Article by Stephen Starr

“ ‘A sacrifice zone’: East Palestine’s wastewater is flooding into this Ohio community”

Available on the Wilderness Society:

October 23, 2023 Article by Nick Kohomban

“How can we work together to protect our forests? A federal program provides a model.

Available on Concerned Health Professionals of NY:

October 19, 2023 Announcement with link to download the 9th compendium.

“Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating risks and Harms of Fracking and Associated Gas and Oil Infrastructure, Ninth Edition, October, 19, 2023”

Yale Program on Climate Change Communications:

Newest REPORT on findings from national Survey conducted by Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communications.  Links to report and Executive Summary.

Climate Change in the American Mind: Beliefs & Attitudes, Spring 2023

Climate Corner: Save solar energy in West Virginia

Nov 11, 2023

Giulia Mannarino

Solar energy is one of the best ways West Virginians can save money on energy bills and dramatically reduce carbon emissions. It’s a chance to invest in clean homegrown energy that supports the local economy. It’s an opportunity for households and businesses to take control of their energy future. Installing solar allows West Virginians to generate electricity on their own roof tops or property. Over three thousand West Virginians have already chosen to install solar. That number should grow in the coming years. The solar industry supports nearly 400 local jobs. These jobs help strengthen communities and support families. Unfortunately, all of that is at risk as solar is under attack in West Virginia. Out of state utility FirstEnergy wants to turn off the lights on West Virginians’ energy choices and stop the growth of solar.

FirstEnergy has filed a proposal with the West Virginia Public Utility Commission to slash the value of solar for customers in MonPower and Potomac Edison territories. This would make it much harder for households, businesses, and organizations in that territory to choose solar. It would slow the solar growth enjoyed over the last decade and potentially take jobs away from West Virginia communities. It would hamper West Virginians ability to reduce carbon emissions to fight climate change. It would strand millions of dollars already invested in solar energy and discourage further investment. In the same proposal, FirstEnergy is also asking to force yet another significant rate increase on their customers. They want to keep all West Virginians tied to their ever-increasing rates and take away their freedom of energy choices.

Solar customers tied to the grid enroll in a program called net metering. When the sun is shining, solar users use the power they make in their home or business. If they make more than what they need, the excess power flows to their neighbors — wherever it can be used. When the sun isn’t shining, they buy the power they need from the utility. Solar customers pay the same rate for electricity that their neighbors do. They also receive a credit for the power they provided at the same rate. It’s a fair 1:1 transaction that appropriately values the benefits of solar energy. The current rate for power is around 11.5 cents per kWh. FirstEnergy wants to slash the solar credit to just 6.5 cents per kWh – and increase the rate for power to over 12 cents per kWh. Solar customers would be unjustly subsidizing utilities who are making billions of dollars. It would make it nearly impossible for customers to go solar and discourage further investment.

Solar energy benefits everyone and slowing solar is the wrong choice for all West Virginians. Studies have been done that show the economic and environmental benefits net metered solar provides to the broader grid exceeds the retail cost of energy. For example, when a home or business produces solar, it’s immediately used by that home or business or its neighbors. Using power right where it’s made means less strain on the system that carries power across the state. Since solar owners do not use the grid as often, they do not put much wear and tear on it making it last longer. Transmission and distribution systems are very costly to upgrade and those upgrades contribute to rate increases. Avoiding them by investing in local generation like solar helps keep costs down for all customers. We are not powerless. Even though FirstEnergy wants to take away West Virginians’ solar choice, we can say “No!”. Their unfair proposal is in front of the West Virginia Public Service Commission. The Commission will decide on the proposal in early 2024. Now is the time to make your voice heard. The Commission is accepting comments on the proposal. Add your voice to hundreds of fellow West Virginians’ who have spoken out against this unfair proposal. Contact your legislators. Tell them to stand with West Virginians and tell the Commission to reject FirstEnergy’s anti-solar proposal. Websites WV4EF, SolarUnitedNeighbors and WVLovesSolar have more information as well as actions you can easily take in opposition to the proposed changes.


Giulia Mannarino, of Belleville, is a grandmother concerned for her granddaughter’s future, and vice president of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action.

Guest column/Fracking, hunting don’t mix — lease should be denied

Nov 4, 2023     Herald Star


Many hunters are entering wooded areas in Ohio in search of deer, turkey and pheasants. Among the most popular places to hunt are Ohio’s public lands, especially parks and wildlife areas in the southeastern portion of the state.

Among the top 10 counties for deer harvests in the 2022-23 season were: Coshocton (7,590), Tuscarawas (7,028), Muskingum (5,982), Guernsey (5,073) and Carroll (4,251). The Ohio Department of Natural Resources reported that “hunters from all 50 U.S. states purchased deer permits in Ohio for use in the 2022-23 seasons with Pennsylvania hunters topping the list, buying 9,365 permits.”

The hunting community adds significant amounts of money to Ohio’s economy each year, spending nearly $866 million on food, equipment, lodging, fuel and other merchandise. A report by the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation estimates that close to half a million hunters participate in recreational hunting each year in Ohio, which translates to “15,500 jobs, $68 million in state and local taxes, and $753 million of the state’s GDP.”

Why would Ohio’s Oil and Gas Land Management Commission want to jeopardize an activity that provides so much revenue for the state, and enjoyment for Ohio and out-of-state residents? Why would this commission even consider fracking excellent hunting areas like Guernsey County’s Salt Fork State Park or Carroll County’s Valley Run Wildlife Area?

These areas located above Marcellus and Utica shale deposits provide habitat for hundreds of species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians.

The most obvious effects of gas extraction are fragmentation and loss of habitat. Fracking requires the complete clearing of land for well pads, infrastructure, pipelines and roads. This means acres of forested lands are lost as they become asphalted over, clear-cut or covered in gravel. In order to restore areas to the original forests, they must be regraded, topsoil needs to be added and native species should be replanted. But this type of reclamation is expensive and not regulated, and often the only reclamation that is done is reseeding areas with non-native grass species.

Forest fragmentation from endless pipelines and access roads leads to the introduction of invasive species, the disruption of predator-prey relationships, drops in migratory bird species and a reduction of core-forest habitat. We also know that fracking fluid and waste releases can be toxic to fish and wildlife, as noted by the spill that occurred in 2007 at Acorn Fork Creek in Kentucky, which killed numerous fish species including the “protected” blackside dace. Additionally, surface waters, including local streams, are impacted by water withdraws that lower water volume, create temperature increases, change pH,and amplify water pollutants.

A hunter described hunting this way: “It offers an understanding and appreciation of wildlife and their ecosystems like no other outdoor activity. Hunting affords the exploration of wild places, and provides delicious, nutritious protein for a meal at a time where much of our food is processed or modified.”

How will hunters feel about hunting at Salt Fork State Park when fracking brings light pollution, noise pollution, water pollution and air pollution to a place that was once wild? Tell the commission to deny the leases for Ohio Parks. Their e-mail is

(Pokladnik, a resident of Uhrichsville, holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, master’s and doctorates in environmental studies and is certified in hazardous materials regulations.)

Climate Corner: How much is enough?

Nov 4, 2023

Aaron Dunbar

How many genocides? How many extinctions?

How many wars must we wage? How many lives must we destroy? How many lands must we make uninhabitable?

How many thousands of Palestinian children must be exterminated for the sake of America’s imperialist interests? Is it merely a coincidence that the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank sit atop nearly half a trillion dollars in oil and gas reserves? Is there no level of depravity to which the client state of Israel may sink before its American benefactors develop any semblance of a conscience?

How many babies need to be blown apart by rockets? How many civilians must be scorched to their bones by white phosphorus? How many more bombs will we supply to Israel to drop on hospitals and refugee camps?

From Israel to Ukraine, how many more proxy wars will we finance? How many more blank checks will we sign to brazen war criminals?

All this, we say, is for the sake of American interests. No amount of human and environmental destruction is too great for the most heavily militarized superpower in the history of the world. In his book “Endless Holocausts,” David Michael Smith estimates the American empire is responsible for nearly 300 million deaths throughout its history. Is that enough?

The U.S. is historically responsible for nearly 25% of the greenhouse gas emissions destroying our planet. The Department of Defense is the single largest institutional emitter of greenhouse gasses in the world. Billions of innocent lives not directly destroyed by the sociopaths at the Pentagon through illegal acts of war will instead be subject to the horrors of the climate crisis it’s creating.

And still it isn’t enough.

Every year the war machine needs more. More innocent blood. More money — trillions spent over decades — more than any other nation on the planet, more than 144 other nations combined.

Politicians and an indoctrinated public squabble and hand-wring over the cost of climate legislation, a woefully inadequate $369 billion in the Inflation Reduction Act that is nevertheless our largest ever investment in mitigating a world-ending existential threat. We spend twice this amount every year on slaughter and bloodshed, on escalating tensions with nuclear superpowers, on a mind-boggling 750 military bases in 80 countries poisoning the water around them, on $100 million fighter jets that somehow go missing, and on developing nuclear bombs 24 times more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima.

We endlessly finance these horrors without giving them a second thought. We hiss and we snarl at the homeless and at welfare recipients, we allow our infrastructure to crumble, and we sleepwalk into a climate apocalypse that could rob us of everything. Yet we bow at the feet of mass murderers as they bleed us dry, enriching weapons manufacturers and war profiteers, demons in designer suits who will never have to look into the eyes of the innocents they massacre.

When will it be enough?

How long must the needs of the many be sacrificed for the insatiable bloodlust and gluttony of the few?

This is simply how things work, we’re told — the way they must be in order for the system to function.

And if that is the case, I say, then maybe the system has never been functional. And maybe it’s near time for us to find another system.

Could it really be true that our creature comforts, our “American way of life” and our well-being, must necessitate these rivers of blood, these mass exterminations of human life, and the complete destabilization of Earth’s systems, upon which 8 billion of us depend? And if that is the case, what right have we to pursue such a way of life at the expense of all others?

We cannot keep doing this to ourselves.

How many of our loved ones need to be chewed up and spat out through the gears of the war machine? How long will we allow military recruiters into schools and shopping malls to prey on the vulnerable, turning our children into ruthless destroyers of life, and sending them home in pine boxes and body bags?

How many more children must feel fear when they look up at the sky? Fear of the American-made bombs raining down onto their heads, or fear of once-in-a-lifetime hurricanes tearing their little worlds to pieces?

How many nightmares must the world endure for the American dream to survive?

How long will we let this go on in our names?

How long can we turn a blind eye to the corporate fascism that consumes us, and to the military industrial complex as it scourges the earth?

As our world overheats, as we plunge into tribal hatred and the tyranny of the surveillance state, as our borders are militarized in order to prevent the arrival of the refugees we create, and as protestors and journalists are murdered with impunity, when will we finally step back and ask ourselves why?

What will we do when the carnage we’ve sown inevitably arrives right back at our doorstep?

When do we stand up and say enough is enough?


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

Climate Corner: Can’t get genie back in bottle

Oct 28, 2023

Parkersburg News and Sentinel

Vic Elam

The industrial age has served us well and the oil, gas, and coal industries have served us well to provide the energy needed to become the world power we are, provide a comfortable living standard, and be the ultimate destination for hordes of emigrants looking for a better life. But, as history has shown, we often must adapt or perish, and that time has come. Humans are naturally averse to change and that, coupled with a huge industry that is fighting for its life, change is proving to be exceedingly difficult. Even though we are inextricably linked to the natural world around us, and the damage we are inflicting is ever-present, we have become so isolated from it, we have become unaware of it. Worse yet, many of those in positions of power inflict harm to the natural world and even directly to many of us in search of riches for themselves.

The latest demonstration of this is the Appalachian hydrogen hub project (ARCH2) recently selected for funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). Congress mandated that some of the hydrogen hubs eligible for BIL funding use natural gas as the hydrogen source, so there was some political wrangling involved in this funding. Some people refer to hydrogen as the Swiss Army knife of the renewable energy world because it can be used in many ways. I applaud the idea of producing hydrogen to offset carbon intensive energy uses, it’s the proposed way of going about it that I take exception to. Some of the hydrogen projects funded by the BIL are producing green hydrogen, meaning that the energy used to produce the hydrogen is from renewable sources such as solar. Conversely, the ARCH2 project will primarily be using natural gas to produce blue hydrogen and will store the carbon byproduct underground. The problem with using natural gas with carbon capture and storage (CCS) is that there are so many opportunities for things to go wrong. Start with the gas extraction, fracking wells that now go for miles and require millions of gallons of fresh water that is now removed from the water cycle and deprives streams of their natural flow.

There’s the surface damage from well sites, and roads required for access. Then the brine waste that is a byproduct of the gas wells that must be properly disposed of, and because of the harmful chemicals, heavy metals, and radioactivity associated with the brine, makes it hard to dispose of and puts people and their water supplies at risk. There is risk of methane escape throughout all aspects of this from the well installation and production to transport and at the facility that produces the hydrogen. Then the carbon disposal effort has many potential pitfalls from the damage from pipeline construction to move the carbon to a suitable injection site and the ever-present pipeline failures, to the concerns over the viability of the underground storage. And this is just some of the problem areas.

The currently used technology for green hydrogen is a process known as electrolysis and it has its own challenges. For it to be labeled as green hydrogen the energy used to produce it must come from renewable sources. If the electricity used to conduct the hydrolysis is coming from the grid; proving that the electricity used for that hydrolysis is from renewable sources can be problematic and it begs the question of might that renewable electricity be better used in other ways.

Hydrogen has been identified as an excellent energy source for steel and cement manufacturing, due to the intense heat that can be generated from it, and hydrogen is an excellent reducer for steel. However, hydrogen is not part of the answer at the new steel mill being constructed in Mason County that is being sold as a clean energy plant.

The federal government can try throwing some candy in the form of incentives through efforts like BIL and the Inflation Reduction Act, to try to entice the genie back into the bottle, but it appears that the corporate elite have the genie hog tied. Incentives appear to be working to some extent, but until we all get on board with fighting Climate Change and breaking these chains that are allowing the gap between the wealthy and everyone else to widen; I fear that we are doomed to the fate prescribed by the elite, and they are not concerned that this fate may consume us all.


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: Save Ohio parks

Oct 21, 2023

Randi Pokladnik

On Friday, Oct. 27, at noon, Save Ohio Parks will be holding a rally for Ohio State Parks, Climate and Democracy. When HB 133 passed back in 2011, Ohio’s Republican legislators made it known that public lands were not protected from fracking. “The most significant aspect of HB 133 is the creation of the Oil and Gas Leasing Commission, which will oversee and coordinate the leasing of land owned or controlled by a state agency, state university or college for the exploration, development, and production of oil and gas.”

After the passage of this bill, Ohio’s citizens expressed their anger over the opening of our lands to this extractive process. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources worked hand in hand with the industry trying to convince the public that fracking was safe. At one point, Ohio citizens protesting fracking state lands were referred to as “environmental activist opponents” and “skilled propagandists.”

In 2014, then Gov. Kasich reversed his position and the issue seemed to be a moot point. But, during the lame duck session of December 2022, HB 507, dubbed the “stuffed chicken bill,” passed along party lines. The bill not only declared that fracked gas was green energy but also resurrected the issue of fracking state lands. This bill was passed and signed into law without any public comment period.

Now Ohio’s citizens wait while the Oil and Gas Land Management Commission, an industry biased group appointed by Gov. DeWine, decides to approve or not approve the nominations to frack thousands of acres of state lands, including the entirety of Salt Fork State Park, Wolf Run State Park and Zepernick Wildlife Area.

Make no mistake, those so-called “skilled propagandists,” aka concerned Ohio citizens, have done their very best to educate the commission. The commission members often seem totally unaware of anything related to fracking, as well as their responsibilities as commission members; including their ability to deny nominations. Citizens have sent countless comments, many citing peer-reviewed studies like the Physicians For Social Responsibility Release 8th Compendium of Scientific, Medical, Media Findings On Risks, Harms Of Fracking And Oil & Gas Infrastructure, that describe the health effects, environmental issues, and safety issues that come with fracking and its infrastructure. Citizens are doing the research that should be done by the commission.

During commission meetings, citizens are only spectators who can watch and listen but not ask any questions of the commission. According to the statue, the names of the companies nominating state land for fracking leases shall be kept secret. Citizens deserve to know why and how the commission decides to approve or not approve submissions. Democracy in Ohio is practically nonexistent.

The recent announcement of the selection of seven regional hydrogen hubs across the nation makes it even more important that we should prevent fracking in our precious parks. Southeastern Ohio will be part of the Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub (ARCH2) where methane gas obtained from fracking would produce hydrogen using heat, steam, and pressure. Proponents refer to it as clean hydrogen because they plan on capturing the carbon dioxide generated using unproven carbon capture technology. This is not clean energy. A study published in Energy and Science Engineering said, “The carbon footprint to create blue hydrogen is more than 20% greater than using either natural gas or coal directly for heat, or about 60% greater than using diesel oil for heat.”

Once again, Ohio’s Appalachian communities are becoming a mineral colony for the fossil fuel industry. Those $925 million federal dollars being appropriated for the hub could be used to support energy efficiency, real clean energy, and local jobs. Hub supporters say that the projects will create 3,000 full-time jobs, but the citizens of the fracked counties of Appalachia Ohio know jobs promised are not jobs realized. Fracking did not bring economic prosperity to local communities.

“Hydrogen is another bait and switch from an administration that continues to break its promises to aggressively tackle climate change and help communities achieve a just, equitable transition to renewable energy,” said Soni Grant of the Center for Biological Diversity. The Appalachian hub, ARCH2, has as one of its partners EQT Energy, the nation’s largest gas producer. The reason our region was chosen for this hub becomes obvious: Utica and Marcellus Shale gas.

SE Ohio, especially the counties of Harrison, Jefferson, Monroe, Noble, Guernsey, and Carroll, sit above deposits of Utica and Marcellus shale. Unfortunately, the state lands nominated for leases are also located in these areas. A satellite image of the region is rather shocking as it shows the ridiculous number of fracking pads, areas of 10 to 30 acres, that currently exist in these counties. Harrison county, where I live, currently has according to Shale XP over 160 well pads. These pads, including associated pipelines, tanks, compressors, access roads, injection wells, stream withdrawal stations, as well as the endless water trucks, brine trucks, sand trucks, chemical trucks, and construction vehicles are located near churches, cemeteries, small towns, farms, retirement homes, streams, lakes, and schools. Is this what we want for our state lands?

While local, state, and federal politicians, as well as the oil and gas industry sing the praises of the ARCH2 projects, we in the region realize that it means more forests cut apart by pipelines, more habitat eaten up by frack pads, more water withdraws, more air pollution, and more injection wells injecting billions of gallons of toxic radioactive wastes in our communities.

Ohioans must face the reality that our state has been captured by this industry. We cannot depend on our politicians to consider the future of our region, our state, or even the planet. Although climate change has been estimated to cost as much as $23 trillion in reduced annual global economic output worldwide, it is not on Ohio politicians’ list of concerns. It is the citizens who must take on this fight to educate and push back against those who consider us a sacrificial region.

Come to the rally in Columbus Oct. 27 and let Ohio’s politicians know we are not willing to let you destroy our state parks to pad oil and gas CEOs pockets.


Randi Pokladnik, Ph.D., of Uhrichsville, is a retired research chemist who volunteers with Mid Ohio Valley Climate Action. She has a doctorate degree in environmental studies and is certified in hazardous materials regulations.

Climate Corner: Why should we sacrifice for fossil fuels?

Oct 14, 2023

George Banziger

Advocates of the fossil-fuel industry often claim that the expeditious transition to renewable energy will involve sacrifice on the part of everyday Americans. What has truly involved sacrifice for most Americans, and, for those of us in Appalachia particularly, has been the sacrifices on behalf of fossil fuels. Critics of renewables have sometimes referred to the alleged extreme land use of solar arrays and wind farms. What they do not mention, of course, is the vast exclusive use of oil and gas on public lands. More than 23 million acres of federal lands were leased to oil and gas interests in 2022 according to the Bureau of Land Management. Private and public lands allotted for solar and wind projects may be put to multiple uses.

Residents of eastern Ohio know well about sacrifices made in the past and to be made in the future for the oil and gas industry. Under HB 507 passed by both houses of the state legislature and signed by the governor, oil and gas companies, most of which are from out of state, are allowed to conduct hydraulic fracturing, i.e., fracking, immediately adjacent to public lands including state parks, What the residents will be sacrificing for this “greater economic good” is the intrusion of access roads, air pollution, increased truck traffic, extraction of millions of gallons of fresh water, and resultant brine waste–most all for the benefit of companies outside of Ohio.

In her book, “Saving Us,” Katherine Hayhoe has cited the tax breaks and cash grants, i.e., sacrifices in our federal budget, awarded to fossil-fuel interests, such as subsidies for exploration, drilling cost reduction, percentage depletion, at $20 billion. With additional negative externalities of carbon emissions and health costs, those sacrifices amount to $5.3 trillion.

We have already sacrificed job creation to fossil fuels. According to the Ohio River Valley Institute, the shale gas region in Appalachia comprises about 22 counties in PA, OH, and WV; these counties produce about 90% of the gas of the region, yet the region trails the nation on key measures of economic prosperity.

Little of the profit from oil and gas has entered the local area; trained workers and service providers are generally from outside the area. The revenue from local natural resources is not returning to Mid-Ohio Valley. Many of the jobs in oil and gas, particularly in the shale-gas industry, are held by outsiders, which has been confirmed with the reports of workers at these sites driving vehicles with out-of-state license plates. Oil and gas companies should at least be contributing to the local economy through severance taxes, impact fees, and other revenue-generating opportunities that will stay here, benefiting our region and offsetting the health and environmental costs these industries exact upon our population, land, and waters.

In a study by the Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs on the economic impact of utility-scale solar energy, it was reported (even at the lowest level of estimation) that over 18,000 construction jobs, 207 annual operator jobs, which would be 80% Ohio-based, and $3.2 billion of total economic impact would result from this investment in this form of renewable energy.

Another steep sacrifice we are making for fossil fuels is the cost to our health in Appalachia. The Ohio Department of Health has reported that combined cancer rates in Washington County are 494.5, as compared to 464.5 statewide. West Virginia’s combined cancer rate is 487.4, and nearby Wirt County has the highest rate in the state. In an October 3, 2023, edition of the New York Times reported that climate change is the biggest single health threat in the world. And it is the fossil-fuel industry that is contributing the most to human-caused climate change with its relentless emissions.

As climate disasters mount through more intense hurricanes, rising ocean levels that are flooding low-lying shorelines, and violent storms, there is a rapidly increasing cost of disaster relief. The Harvard Gazette has noted that in the last five years there have been 18 serious disaster events per year, 911 deaths, and $153 billion in recovery costs. These figures are twice the rate of the previous decade. FEMA Public Assistance grants account for a growing part of our federal budget, yet the root causes of this violent weather are not being addressed.

Fossil fuels, especially natural gas, will be an important source of energy for many years. However, these resources do not need more sacrifice and subsidy but more taxes/fees with the dividend going to the American public, as exemplified in the Energy Innovation Act, which was just introduced in the Congress.


George Banziger, Ph..D., was a faculty member at Marietta College and an academic dean at three other colleges. 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.