Climate Corner: More fracked gas is a dead end

Mar 23, 2024

Eric Engle

editorial@newsandsentinel.com

It’s clearer than ever that, for residents of Ohio and greater Appalachia, the fracking “boom” has turned out to be a bust. The Appalachian Hydrogen Hub will only be another dead end for our region but it’s not too late to turn back.

More than a decade ago, the shale gas industry held all the right cards. Decision-makers were lavishing fracking developers with tax cuts and publicly funded subsidies. Gas production in the early 2010s was soaring, outpacing even the most optimistic pre-boom estimates. Between 2008, when gas development first began in earnest in the Marcellus and Utica shales, and 2019, before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the largest fracking counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia saw their economic output swell by nearly 90%, a rate more than four times the national average. Business was booming. Elected officials and industry boosters promised the fracking industry’s success meant prosperity for Appalachia, that our region would soon see hundreds of thousands of new jobs and a bona fide economic renaissance.

But those promises of prosperity never came true. During the same period of soaring output, families closest to the booming gas economy were actually having a harder time finding jobs. Many residents left the region entirely, due in no small part to the human toll of fracking operations. A litany of epidemiological studies began to demonstrate the connections between shale gas development and serious health impacts for nearby residents, including respiratory problems, heart-related complications, mental health issues, birth defects, and an outsized risk of rare cancers. Data show that those same fracking counties collectively lost more than 10,000 net jobs and almost 47,000 residents by 2021.

Fracking for methane gas hasn’t worked for our communities. In fact, for most people, it’s done nothing but harm. That’s why we can’t afford to keep continuing down the same gas-lined path.

But the industry is pulling all the stops to continue our region’s reliance on fossil fuels. Their latest ploy? The Appalachian Hydrogen Hub, or ARCH2, a gas-powered network of industrial facilities, power stations, and pipelines geared to create “blue” hydrogen, which uses costly, experimental carbon capture technology to reduce some smokestack emissions.

ARCH2 claims that blue hydrogen is “clean” energy, that their sprawling complex of heavy industry, fossil-fired power generation, and expanded fracking operations will somehow reduce the region’s net greenhouse gas emission output. That claim is far from the truth. Recent peer-reviewed research on lifecycle emissions shows that, in fact, 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. And because blue hydrogen uses fracked gas as a feedstock, greenlighting ARCH2 would mean more expanding fracking operations, generating even more pollution and climate-warming emissions.

Yet, as concerned residents prepare for the Department of Energy’s upcoming virtual listening session on ARCH2 — scheduled for March 27 at 6 p.m. — the hydrogen hub has already made significant choices about their plans, including how hydrogen will be produced and what companies are involved. To date, no information about project sites has been publicly provided. For too long, we’ve been kept in the dark. Still, we can’t allow the high-risk, low-reward Appalachian Hydrogen Hub to move forward without making our voice heard.

Sign up to speak at the ARCH2 listening session on March 27 at 6 p.m. to make sure federal officials hear your concerns. Fracking has already had its chance, and ARCH2 just means more of the same — the same pollution and the same broken economic promises. With our region at a crossroads, it’s time to build a better future for our communities. Register at bit.ly/ARCH2-listening-session.

***

Eric Engle is board president of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action.

Climate Corner: Transition from exploitation to sustainability

Mar 16, 2024

George Banziger

editorial@newsandsentinel.com

The exploitation of Appalachia by outsiders goes all the way back to the days of George Washington, who, prior to serving as our first president, surveyed the lands around the Ohio River for development and ownership by the eastern colonists. Then, in the 1800s, as Steven Stool described in his 2017 book, “Ramp Hollow,” outsiders extracted lumber and coal from the Appalachian forests. One of the justifications for this exploitation was the disparagement of the residents of these areas as degenerate, backward, and ignorant. Fast forward to the 21st Century, and we witness the false promise of natural gas being extracted from the Utica and Marcellus shale deposits and the profits once again going mainly to outsiders.

Many of us who reside in the Mid-Ohio Valley, which is part of the federally designated region of Appalachia (Appalachian Regional Commission) see the need for a transformative economy in West Virginia and eastern Ohio. For many years we have been promised that economic development, jobs, and prosperity would result from the extractive industries of coal, oil, and natural gas and from the profits that these industries generated.

But where are the profits, jobs, and prosperity from these industries going and how much benefit to the Appalachian region accrues from these investments? In a study done by the Ohio River Valley Institute (July 2021) it was reported that from 2008-2019 in the 22 counties in Ohio, in western Pennsylvania, and in West Virginia, which produce 90% of the natural gas in Appalachia, economic prosperity, in terms of jobs, income, and population growth, trailed the U.S. measures of these factors. In that period the number of jobs increased just 1.6%, eight percentage points below the U.S. figure, and personal income was one-third below the national average. The demographics of our region continue to show decline of population as young people choose to leave. In other words, little revenue or benefit from all this activity with natural gas has come to the region. Natural gas extraction and plastics manufacturing are capital-intensive enterprises. What is needed for job creation and sustained prosperity in the region is activity that is labor-intensive and that produces wealth which remains in the region.

Organizations like ReImagine Appalachia and the Ohio River Valley Institute (ORVI) have provided factually based information about the economy in central Appalachia and ideas for what kind of sustainable growth can be achieved. Other groups such as the regional chapters of the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) are advocating for federal policies that promote such change toward a transformative economy. And Mid-Ohio Climate Action gives a local voice to these efforts.

There are many opportunities for economic development in Appalachia, even in manufacturing, which can serve as alternatives to extractive industries. Biomaterials, such as hemp, which can be readily grown in the region, can serve as an alternative to plastics. Production of batteries for vehicles which reduce greenhouse gas emissions is another promising idea. “Green steel,” (Power Technology, 2024) made with green hydrogen energy and transported with renewable energy is an option to traditional steel manufacturing. Locating and capping abandoned oil & gas wells can provide many jobs in the region (32,000 such jobs according to ORVI). Controlling methane emissions can generate 155,000 direct sustainable jobs in the region, according to a recent report by ORVI. There are now more jobs in the solar and wind industries in Ohio than in the coal industry (U.S. Energy & Jobs Report, U.S. Department of Energy, 2023). Research on the use of coal tailings to produce rare-earth metals, which are used in electric vehicles and other modern applications, is producing promising results. Parts for wind turbines can be manufactured in Appalachia. Hydrogen, produced from electrolysis, can be developed as a cleaner, safer, and less expensive alternative to coal for electricity production.

Appalachian communities where economic investments are being made should be assured that their communities will receive long-term benefits from any major investments in their areas including the following: that local labor will be hired on construction and manufacturing jobs (to be paid at prevailing wages), that environmental standards will be applied (e.g., clean air and clean water), and that green space and affordable housing will be provided. These assurances have been formalized into community benefit agreements, now a requirement for grant-funded projects supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Job-training programs are being developed in Appalachia for those who have been involved with the criminal justice system, through drug-related crimes, and those in drug-treatment programs. These efforts seek to address one of the critical endemic social problems of Appalachia.

***

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.

Climate Corner: Detoxing your home

Mar 9, 2024

Randi Pokladnik

editorial@newsandsentinel.com

Spring is usually the time homeowners decide to take inventory of unnecessary “junk” and clean out closets, garages, and other areas of their homes. It is also a good time to detox your home. We all have items that have outlived their usefulness, but detoxing a home involves looking at the ingredients in items that could be toxic.

Look around in your garage, do you have lawn and garden poisons like glyphosate (Roundup), which was declared a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), or Sevin, which is highly toxic to bees and aquatic species? Contrary to what the pesticide industry tries to tell us, if it kills a weed or a bug, it’s toxic. Rachel Carson warned us in her book “Silent Spring” that we are killing ourselves by using poisons on our foods. Sadly, the take-over of our food by corporations killed family farms and ushered in the cultivation of monocultured crops, which are genetically modified and use more and more toxic chemicals.

It is better for us and the environment to go green and chemical free when it comes to our lawns and gardens. When you go shopping, buy organic produce when possible, paying attention to the dirty dozen; the list of foods that should always be purchased from organic selections. These include strawberries, which can have up to 22 different pesticides and fungicides on them. “Non-organic spinach has more pesticide residues by weight than all other produce tested.” Three-fourths of the spinach samples tested were contaminated with a neurotoxic bug killer banned for use on food crops in Europe.

Our next stop on the detox tour is the bathroom. This might be where you store your house cleaning products. The petrochemical companies tell us we need an arsenal of chemical cleaning products, however, most of your household cleaning can be accomplished with baking soda, vinegar, powdered cleanser, isopropyl alcohol, and Murphy’s Oil Soap. My mom was a red-head with very sensitive skin. She never bought anything with harsh chemicals, and used the above products with great success.

The bathroom can be very toxic. If a personal care product lists multiple ingredients on the label, especially chemical names, this would be a good product to avoid. Phthalates and parabens, which are endocrine disruptors, are often found in hair shampoo, hair conditioners, liquid soaps, nail polish, cosmetics, and lotions. Another catch-all category of ingredients is “parfum.” Many chemicals can be thrown into this category without exposing their real identities. “The word “fragrance” has been protected in the industry for many years as a “trade secret,” meaning that companies do not have to disclose all of the raw materials that make up a fragrance. Better to choose unscented or fragrance-free products. Also avoid PVC shower curtains which out-gas toxic vapors. The EPA Safer Chemical List is a good online site to visit for information.

The kitchen is another place where toxic substances can be eliminated. As I said earlier, try buying organic produce whenever possible and don’t use toxic compounds to clean counters and appliances. Do not use Teflon pots and pans or pure aluminum pans, instead use stainless steel, glass, cast iron, anodized aluminum alloy, or real ceramic pots and pans. Use stainless steel or wooden utensils. Do not use plastic cutting boards, which release tiny particles of plastics with each cut. Store foods in glass. I use my canning jars for leftovers and these can go directly into the microwave, unlike plastic containers which can leach out plasticizers when heated.

Now we come to the last two stops of the toxic home tour, the bedroom and living room. For both areas, avoid carpeting, as many carpets have been sprayed with PFAS containing chemicals to make them stain resistant. “Over four billion pounds of old carpets are annually dumped in American landfills or burned in incinerators, releasing deadly pollutants into the air, soil, and water. Many mattresses, drapes, and upholstery have also been treated to resist stains. Do not buy polyurethane mattresses, instead choose natural fibers for mattresses and pillows. “The polyurethane foam can emit volatile organic compounds, or VOCs; harmful chemicals that can cause respiratory irritation or other health problems. The flame-retardant chemicals used on upholstery are linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and adverse effects on the immune system.” Skip the plug-in air fresheners too, which basically spray toxic chemicals into your air.

Finally, many of us are still unaware that our home basements can be exposing us to deadly Radon gas. “Radon is responsible for 3,000 non-smoker lung-cancer deaths each year.” A smoker who is also exposed to radon gas runs a higher risk of lung cancer. Radon contributes to 21,000 lung-cancer deaths annually. Studies show that Radon gas emissions increase in areas where fracking is taking place. “The closer the distance from homes to shale wells, the higher the radon concentrations.” The fracturing of underlying bedrock releases Radon as well as methane. Consumers can purchase a Radon test kit for around $20 at a hardware store. After the kit is exposed to your basement air for a set number of hours, you will mail it to a certified lab and get the results. The EPA recommends installing a system if your radon level is at or above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air.

We, along with many of our neighbors, believe our Radon levels increased after fracking started in our area. Luckily, we had thought about radon 20 years prior when we were building our log home and we were ready to install the fan and start pulling a vacuum under our basement floor. Our Radon levels immediately dropped once the system was in operation. You can also purchase a digital Radon detector to monitor Radon levels in your home.

There are other places where toxic products might be hiding in your home. You can search the many reliable online sources to help guide you through detoxing your home.

***

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.

Suggested Readings for March 2024

MOVCA Selected Media Postings February 2024

Compiled by Cindy Taylor

 

Appearing online in The Marietta Times:

February 26, 2024  Local News by Stephanie Elverd

“Norfolk Southern investors continue criticism over derailment”

https://www.mariettatimes.com/news/2024/02/norfolk-southern-investors-continue-criticism-over-derailment/

 

February 2, 2024 Business article by Michelle Dillon

“Washington County Commission supports SAI.TECH grant application”

https://www.mariettatimes.com/news/2024/02/washington-county-commission-supports-sai-tech-grant-application/

 

Appearing online in The Parkersburg News and Sentinel:

 

February 8, 2023 Community News Staff Reports

“Mid-Ohio Valley Odds and Ends – Documentary Virtual Screening”

https://www.newsandsentinel.com/news/community-news/2024/02/mid-ohio-valley-odds-and-ends-154/

 

 

Appearing on WTAP:

February 25, 2024 Feature by Chase Campbell

“U.S. Supreme Court hears case that could impact interstate pollution” On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Ohio v. Environmental Protection Agency.

https://www.wtap.com/2024/02/25/us-supreme-court-hears-case-that-could-impact-interstate-pollution/

 

February 25, 2024 Feature by Chase Campbell

“Pilot program planned to test hydrogen at Pleasants Power Station”

https://www.wtap.com/2024/02/25/pilot-program-planned-test-hydrogen-pleasants-power-station/

 

February 18, 2024 Feature by Chase Campbell

“New report highlights concerns and goals for Ohio River Basin waterways”

https://www.wtap.com/2024/02/18/new-report-highlights-concerns-goals-ohio-river-basin-waterways/

 

Available on the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

See articles by Mike Tony, Environment and Energy Reporter: https://www.wvgazettemail.com/users/profile/mike%20tony/

February 19, 2024 Article by Mike Tony

“FirstEnergy utilities, solar advocates reach net metering agreement in PSC case”

https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/energy_and_environment/firstenergy-utilities-solar-advocates-reach-net-metering-agreement-in-psc-case/article_ae8147a1-a02c-57a3-a1f9-dd0e57f3c7ad.html

 

February 14, 2024 Op-Ed by Eric Engle

“Eric Engle: Tired of dirty games from dirty industries”

https://www.wvgazettemail.com/opinion/op_ed_commentaries/eric-engle-tired-of-dirty-games-from-dirty-industries-opininon/article_91216d42-886c-571e-87f2-7c534d3d04e0.html

 

February 13, 2024 Article by Mike Tony

“WV House sends bill giving DEP underground CO2 injection well primacy to governor”

https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/legislative_session/wv-house-sends-bill-giving-dep-underground-co2-injection-well-primacy-to-governor/article_ffab04d0-1c02-581f-a19d-d909b965b4f0.html

 

February 10, 2024  Article by Mike Tony

“WV lawmakers siding with gas and oil industry despite heavy consumer costs”

https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/legislative_session/wv-lawmakers-siding-with-gas-and-oil-industry-despite-heavy-consumer-costs/article_e08b4bbf-795f-5a72-b495-95e5ed0baee9.html

 

February 10, 2024  Article by Mike Tony

“WV Senate passes bill to give DEP primacy over underground CO2 injection wells”

https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/legislative_session/wv-senate-passes-bill-to-give-dep-primacy-over-underground-co2-injection-wells/article_438ba79e-c34b-52ff-b73e-c3330b16b0d8.html

 

 

 

Available on Associated Press:

February 26, 2024 Article by Samantha Hendrickson

“Ohio commission awards bids to frack oil and gas under state parks, wildlife areas”

https://apnews.com/article/fracking-state-parks-ohio-oil-gas-investigation-c72fae07430e317d34ec801a0c181355

 

February 21, 2024 Article by Glynis Board

“Form Energy to begin manufacturing iron air batteries in Weirton to stabilize electric grid”

https://www.alleghenyfront.org/weirton-west-virginia-form-energy-storage-batteries-grid/

 

Available on The Allegheny Front:

February 26, 2024 Article by Julie Grant

“Commission Approves Bids to Frack Ohio’s Largest State Park and Two Wildlife Areas”

https://www.alleghenyfront.org/ohio-commission-approval-fracking-state-parks-wildlife-areas-salt-fork/

 

Available on National Wildlife Federation:

February 2024 “Restoring the Ohio River: A Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity”

https://www.nwf.org/ohioriver

Includes this link to download New Report: Community-Driven Solutions To Restore & Protect Ohio River Basin.

Findings from 31 community listening sessions

https://www.nwf.org/-/media/Documents/PDFs/Waters/Community-Priorities-for-Ohio-River-Basin-Restoration-and-Protection.pdf

 

See also: available on Ohio River Basin Alliance (ORBA) https://www.orsanco.org/ohio-river-basin-alliance-orba/

February 13, 2024 Press Release from Ohio River Basin Alliance – National Wildlife Federation

“New Report Chronicles Community Concerns, Priorities for Local Waters in Ohio River Basin” Report identifies community-driven restoration priorities to address pollution, clean water concerns in 14-state region.

https://www.orsanco.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/02-13-24-Ohio-River-Listening-Session-Report-Press-Release.pdf

 

Available on Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission ORSANCO:

2024 Ohio River Basin Day on the Hill Event May 16, 2024  Registration link included

https://www.orsanco.org/orba-ohio-river-basin-hill-day-event/

 

Available on West Virginia Rivers Coalition:

February 29, 2024 “Action Alert: Tell WVDEP no more toxic discharges into the Ohio River!”

https://wvrivers.org/2024/02/action-alert-no-more-pfas-discharge/

Includes link to fact sheet about Chemours Company’s Water Pollution Control Permit Application No. WV0117986

 

February 23, 2024 WVRC Policy News

https://wvrivers.org/2024/02/wvrivers-policy-news/

 

February 23, 2024 “Join Us for Ohio River Webinars”

https://wvrivers.org/2024/02/orb-briefing/

 

February 21, 2024 “Urgent Action Needed: Comment on Chemours Consent Order by Feb 25!”

https://wvrivers.org/2024/02/action-alert-chemours-optima-belle/

 

February 17, 2024 “Action Alert: Curb methane emissions, create jobs, and protect public health!”

https://wvrivers.org/2024/02/mec/

 

February 14, 2024 “Action Alert: Tell the Senate to Vote NO on HB 5018”

https://wvrivers.org/2024/02/nohb5018/

 

February 2024 Updates from WV Rivers Coalition

https://wvrivers.org/2024/02/february2024enews/

See “Clean Water for All Event Recap” & “A Symbol of Resilience and Community is on the Move” and more

 

Available on ORVI:

February 28, 2024 Report by Gregory Cumpton and Ted Boettner

Addressing Methane Emissions in Appalachia: How Many Jobs Will It Take?”

https://ohiorivervalleyinstitute.org/addressing-methane-emissions-in-appalachia/

Includes links to download report, state fact sheets, toolkit, and webinar recording.

 

Available on ReImagine Appalachia: https://reimagineappalachia.org/events/  

Register for upcoming March Virtual Events via Zoom and see recordings & resources available for past events.

 

March 19, 2024 noon “Natural Infrastructure/ Workforce Development Policy Report Release”

https://reimagineappalachia.org/natural-infrastructure-workforce-development-policy-report-release/

 

March 14, 2024 noon.  “Shelter in the Storm: ReImagining resiliency for your communities & congregations”

https://reimagineappalachia.org/shelter-in-the-storm-reimaging-resiliency-for-your-communities-and-congregations/

 

March 5, 2024 noon. “Sustainable Manufacturing Co-Ops Report Release”

https://reimagineappalachia.org/sustainable-manufacturing-co-ops-report-release/

 

February 29, 2024 11AM-1PM  “Planning Grants: Getting The Capacity to Build Your Capacity”

https://reimagineappalachia.org/planning-grants-getting-the-capacity-to-build-your-capacity/

 

February 20, 2024 noon  “Appalachia Sustainable Business Network Listening Session”

https://reimagineappalachia.org/appalachian-sustainable-business-network-listening-session/

 

February 13, 2024 noon   “Coalition Update: Appalachian Flooding Policy Platform”

https://reimagineappalachia.org/coalition-biweekly-lunchtime-update/

 

Sierra Club West Virginia https://www.sierraclub.org/west-virginia

Spring 2024 Mountain State Sierran Newsletter available digitally and can be downloaded.

See articles including on page 7 “Chemours Applies to Continue Causing “Dark Waters” “ by Eric Engle

https://www.sierraclub.org/west-virginia/newsletter

 

Available on West Virginia Environmental Council (WVEC):

February 10, 2024 “Climate Reality Training in NYC, April 12-14- Application & Scholarship”

https://wvecouncil.org/climate-reality-training-in-nyc-april-12-14-application-scholarship/

 

February 9, 2024 WVEC Green Legislative Update

https://wvecouncil.org/green-volume-34-issue-5/

 

Available on West Virginia Citizen Action Group:

February 15, 2024 Action Alert to Support House Bill 5422 for full retail credit Net Metering

“West Virginians Deserve To Be Paid Fairly For The Energy They Produce”

https://wvcag.org/west-virginians-deserve-to-be-paid-fairly-for-the-energy-they-produce/

Links to action through West Virginians For Energy Freedom

 

Available on Earthjustice:

February 15, 2024 Article by Zahra Ahmad

“A Train Full of Toxic Chemicals Derailed in Her Town. Here’s What Her Community Needs Now.”

https://earthjustice.org/article/a-train-full-of-toxic-chemicals-derailed-in-her-town-heres-what-her-community-needs-now

 

Available on Toxic Free Future:

February 15, 2024 Letter to President Joe Biden and EPA Administrator Michael Regan

“RE: Recommendations for East Palestine and nearby communities”

https://toxicfreefuture.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Letter-to-President-Biden-and-EPA-Admin-Regan-East-Palestine-Policy-Recommendations.pdf

Note: MOVCA is signatory (over 200+ organizations) to this important letter to President Biden

 

Available on Environmental Working Group: https://www.ewg.org

February 23, 2024 Article by John E. Reeder (EWG) and Anthony Lacey (EWG)

“Government panel calls for limiting federal purchases of products with ‘forever chemicals’

https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news/2024/02/government-panel-calls-limiting-federal-purchases-products-forever

See also “Many Companies Market Alternatives for Products that Contain PFAS” (updated January 2024)

https://www.ewg.org/withoutintentionallyaddedpfaspfc

 

February 14, 2024 Article by Ketura Persellin (EWG) and David Andrews, Ph.D. (EWG)

“ ‘Forever chemicals’: Top 3 ways to lower your exposure”

https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news/2024/02/forever-chemicals-top-3-ways-lower-your-exposure

 

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

February 22, 2024 Article by Curtis Tate    Text and audio.

“Chemours Seeks DEP Permission For Tenant To Discharge Chemicals”

https://wvpublic.org/chemours-seeks-dep-permission-to-discharge-chemicals-into-river/

 

February 13, 2024 Article by Curtis Tate

“Revitalization Of communities Is EPA’s Focus In State, Ortiz Says”

https://wvpublic.org/revitalization-of-communities-is-epas-focus-in-state-ortiz-says/

 

Available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

February 12, 2024  USDA Press release

“Climate Corps, USDA launches New Working Lands Climate Corp to Train Future Conservation and Climate Leaders on Climate-Smart Agriculture”

https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2024/02/12/part-president-bidens-american-climate-corps-usda-launches-new

 

Available on The Guardian:

February 17, 2024 Article by Oliver Milman

“Very cool: trees stalling effects of global heating in eastern US, study finds”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2024/feb/17/us-east-trees-warming-hole-study-climate-crisis

 

February 15, 2024 Article by Dharna Noor

“ ‘They lied’: plastics producers deceived public about recycling, report reveals”

Includes link to Center for Climate Integrity study.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/feb/15/recycling-plastics-producers-report

 

February 12, 2024 Article by Dharna Noor

“Certified natural gas is ‘dangerous greenwashing scheme’, US senators say”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/feb/12/natural-gas-greenwashing-democrats

(Important issue to know about for our region)

 

Available on Inside Climate News:

February 11, 2023 Article by Keerti Gopal

“How a Climate Group That Has Made Chaos Its Brand Got White House’s Ear”

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/11022024/how-a-climate-group-that-made-chaos-its-brand-got-white-house-attention/

Climate Defiance’s  engagement with Joe Manchin included in article.

 

February 9, 2024 Article by Marianne Lavelle

“Michael Mann’s $1 Million Defamation Verdict Resonates in a Still-Contentious Climate Science World”

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/09022024/michael-mann-defamation-verdict/

 

February 8, 2024 Article by Amy Green

“EPA Reports ‘Widespread Noncompliance’ With the Nation’s First Regulations on Toxic Coal Ash”

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/08022024/epa-reports-widespread-noncompliance-with-toxic-coal-ash-regulations/

 

Available on Earthday.org:

February 21, 2024 Article by Lindsey Sparkman

“Chemical Recycling: Savior or Saboteur?”

https://www.earthday.org/chemical-recycling-savior-or-saboteur/

 

February 12, 2024 Article by Kelley Scott

“Love in Bloom: Eco-Friendly Valentine’s Celebrations”

https://www.earthday.org/love-in-bloom-eco-friendly-valentines-celebrations/

 

February 11,  2024 Article by Jacquelyn Wells

“East Palestine, Ohio, One Year Later”

https://www.earthday.org/east-palestine-ohio-one-year-later/

 

February 11,  2024 Article by Lindsey Sparkman

“Unraveling the Impact of Thrifting”   Thrifting doesn’t solve the fast fashion problem.

https://www.earthday.org/unraveling-the-impact-of-thrifting/

 

February 7, 2024 Article by Lindsey Sparkman

“Climate Education Takes Root”   NY can inspire climate education in schools across the country.

https://www.earthday.org/climate-education-takes-root/

 

January 27, 2024 Article by Michael Karapetian

“Guiding You to a Greener Vacation”

https://www.earthday.org/guiding-you-to-a-greener-vacation/

 

Available on Yale Climate Connections:

February 28, 2024 Article by Lauren Kurtz

“Michael Mann beat his defamers. But climate scientists are still under attack.”

https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2024/02/michael-mann-beat-his-defamers-but-climate-scientists-are-still-under-attack/

 

February 7, 2024 Article by Laura Thomas-Walters, V. Cologna, E. DE Lange, J. Ettinger, and M. Selinske

“How to speak with your family and friends about environmental issues” A simple guide to getting started.

https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2024/02/how-to-speak-with-your-family-and-friends-about-environmental-issues/

 

HERE ARE A FEW MORE ARTICLES OF INTEREST:

Available on VOLTS.WTF:

February 14, 2024 Podcast by David Roberts. A conversation with Reps. Sean Casten and Mike Levin.

“The Democrats’ new consensus bill would supercharge transmission”

https://www.volts.wtf/p/the-democrats-new-consensus-bill

Informative discussion about permitting reform legislation- Clean Electricity and Transmission Acceleration Act (CETA)

 

Available on the Science & Environmental Health Network:

February 26, 2024 Article by Ted Schettler, Science Director SEHN

“Competing for Water, Driving Climate Change”

https://www.sehn.org/sehn/2024/2/23/competing-for-water-driving-climate-change

 

February 26, 2024 Article by Sandra Steingraber, SEHN Senior Scientist

“Repercussion Section: Thoughts on Groundwater”

https://www.sehn.org/sehn/2024/2/23/repercussion-section-thoughts-on-groundwater

 

Available on YaleEnvirionment360:

February 29, 2024 Article by Boyce Upholt

“In Rush for Lithium, Miners Turn to Oil Fields of Arkansas”

https://e360.yale.edu/features/arkansas-direct-lithium-extraction

 

Climate Corner: Where have all the flowers gone?

Mar 2, 2024

Linda Eve Seth

editorial@newsandsentinel.com

What a lonely place it would be to have a world without a wildflower! — Roland R Kemler

***

Think about climate change. If you’ve been paying attention, you are likely picturing devastating floods, raging wildfires, melting glaciers, or parched earth. Few of us would think of the lovely, delicate wildflowers in nearby meadows as victims of climate change. But recent studies suggest the future of these pretty blooms may be dismal as a result of our warming planet.

For short-lived spring wildflowers (known as ephemerals), such as rue anemone, trillium, or Dutchman’s breeches, timing is everything. These fleeting plants grow in temperate forests around the world (West Virginia is home to a remarkable abundance of the delightful beauties.), leafing out and flowering early in spring before the trees above them leaf out and block the sunlight. Emerge too early, and it will still be winter; emerge too late, and it will be too shady under the forest canopy for the essential process of photosynthesis to take place.

Over their evolutionary history, these plants have figured out the best timing for their survival. But climate change is altering spring growing conditions, and in order to survive, plant life is changing along with it.

When scientists considered phenology — the timing of biological events — they found that trees in their studies were more sensitive to spring temperatures than wildflowers were, which has resulted in earlier tree leaf-out, reducing available light below in the understory, and making a less than ideal environment for spring ephemerals.

This pattern has been found to be common across three continents, North America, Asia, and Europe. Trees and wildflowers are active earlier now than in the past, especially in warm years and places. An analysis of over 400 plant species found that the average first flowering date from 1987 to present is a full month earlier than the average first flowering date from prior to 1986. That period coincides with accelerating global warming.

My personal experience and subsequent concerns arise from years of searching annually for spring ephemerals and recording the dates of my initial sightings of those beauties growing within 1/2 mile of my house in rural Ritchie County. Each year, from March through May, I find 80-85 different kinds of blooming wildflowers! Every year over the past decade, I have dutifully recorded the date I first noticed a species blooming. By reviewing my own charts, I see that in just that short period of time, most of the wildflowers in my corner of the world are blooming 2-4 weeks EARLIER than they did just 10 years ago. The greatest shifts have occurred in the past 4-5 years.

Although the sight of the first spring flowers is always special, this earlier flowering can have consequences for the ecosystems and agriculture. Other species (birds, bugs …) that synchronize their migration or hibernation can be left without the flowers and plants they rely on which can lead to biodiversity loss if populations cannot adapt quickly enough. Recent studies conducted in California have recorded a decline of wildflower species by 15% in 15 years.

The impact of climate change involves more than just losing the visual beauty of these wildflowers. As pollinator plants, wildflowers help to support declining bee populations as well as helping maintain a healthy population of other bugs which are paramount when growing fruits and vegetables; e.g. strawberries, raspberries, cherries, apples, and nuts.

Wildflowers supply seeds, insects, and other food for wildlife. On croplands and in forests wildflowers also provide erosion control and aid the management and filtering of storm-water. Their root systems create a natural groundwater filtration system and reduce the impacts of drought.

A study completed in 2022, has found that climate change not only reduces the abundance of wildflowers but causes them to produce less nectar and fewer and lighter seeds. These changes also impact pollinating insects visiting the flowers; they have to visit more flowers, more frequently, in order to gather the required food.

Some researchers warn that wildflowers may be doomed to fade away in coming decades. Due to our warming climate, trees in North American forests are leafing out earlier and earlier each spring. For the wildflowers on the forest floor, searching for energy from the sun, all that extra shady foliage could end up causing a lot of harm.

Not even those delicate, picturesque wildflowers are safe from the effects of climate change.

Until next time, be kind to your Mother Earth.

***

Linda Eve Seth, SLP, M.Ed. is a mother, grandmother, concerned citizen and member of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action

Stop all LNG projects

2/28/2024
Randi Pokladnik
Canton Repository

The recent op-ed in The Hill, titled “Biden’s LNG decision will make it harder to reach our climate goals,” by Tim Ryan and Mary Landrieu, claims that “without natural gas as a foundation,” we cannot meet our climate goals.

The science is clear. We need immediate, concrete solutions to the climate crisis. We do not need a “bridge fuel.” Carbon capture and hydrogen hubs, funded by taxpayer dollars only serve to prop up fossil fuels and avoid transitioning to real solutions.

They are not proven to work at scale, are expensive, and do not address the increasing methane emissions from fracking. Liquified natural gas facilities release carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and volatile organic compounds like the carcinogen benzene.

Ohio’s southeastern counties have become sacrificial zones as fracked gas heads to coastal export hubs. The 9th “Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking,” said “there is no evidence that fracking can be practiced in a manner that does not threaten human health directly or without imperiling climate stability upon which human health depends.”

We can meet the climate challenge by building grid resilience, adopting renewable energy, and investing in energy efficiency. The Big Wires Act promotes more interregional transmission from areas with available energy to areas that need energy. It ensures “utilities and other transmission developers would be responsible for upgrading the grid.”

Technological improvements have now made renewable green energy cheaper than fossil fuels. Energy efficiency tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act include “the installation of new doors, windows, skylights, insulation, heat pumps, installation of residential solar, small-scale wind, geothermal heat pumps, home battery storage, and fuel cell energy systems,” projects to help citizens and the planet.

Climate Corner: Paradise threatened

Feb 24, 2024

Rebecca Phillips

editorial@newsandsentinel.com

As winter drags on in the Mid-Ohio Valley, many of us dream of escaping to tropical climes until spring. Since retiring, I have been lucky enough to do just that, spending several winters in the Yucatan peninsula, home to lovely people, peaceful beaches, scores of Mayan ruins, and 400+ species of birds. I am not the only one: in the winter months, snowbirds from the U.S. and Canada increase the population of the Progreso area by more than 10%, and the resort city of Cancun draws millions of vacationers every year. Culturally minded tourists flock to World Heritage sites like Chichen Itzo and Calakmul, while nature lovers come here to view the flamingos, motmots, and other gorgeous tropical birds.

Unfortunately, this beautiful region is one of those most threatened by climate change. Its geology and its location in the hurricane belt explain why. The Yucatan peninsula is a nearly flat limestone slab between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean sea, with no place here more than a few feet above sea level and a water table that lies close to the surface, rendering it vulnerable to hurricanes and flooding.

The last few years have not been kind. As the world’s scientists have noted, warmer oceans are leading to more and stronger hurricanes. In 2020, the year of the pandemic, Yucatan experienced three tropical storms and two hurricanes in four months, along with record-breaking rainfall. Merida, the capital city, experienced serious flooding in a number of areas, with streets underwater, homes inundated, power out, parking garages rendered useless, and a section of its major underpass closed for weeks. With a new Category 6 proposed as a designation for the stronger hurricanes of the last few years, the situation is likely to worsen.

Hurricanes are not required for flooding in this vulnerable land. The winter storms known as Nortes are becoming more frequent due to changes in the atmospheric currents, meaning that the rainy season lasts longer. With the aquifers full, water has no place to go except across the surface. Just last week, a friend sent photos showing the Gulf of Mexico at the top of the steps leading to her terrace and the sand road next to her home completely underwater. Increased development in the area and an expansion of the Progreso pier, combined with the higher sea levels, have caused serious erosion of some areas of the coast. A longtime resident reports the loss of ten feet or more of beach near her home in the last decade.

The winds associated with these winter storms are also becoming stronger. Yucatan Magazine reported that the Feb. 5 storm brought winds of 75 mph — literally hurricane strength in what is not supposed to be hurricane season — due to an atmospheric cold front reaching the record-warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to extensive flooding and property damage, at last report two fishing boats and the five men who crewed them were still missing. Weather forecasters are warning of more such storms this winter.

In a 2023 Washington Post interview, Yucatan governor Mauricio Vila stated that “important. . . [parts] of Yucatan and the Yucatan Peninsula will disappear in the next hundred years.” Yes, you read that right: the conservative-party governor of the state has admitted that climate change-induced sea level rise and flooding will cause some of the area’s fabled beaches to vanish in the possible lifetimes of children born today.

Too much water is not the only problem. Salvador Flores Guido, research professor at the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan, has noted that both summer temperatures and periods of drought have increased here, leading to crop failures, livestock deaths, and water shortages. With almost no surface water, the population of Yucatan depends on groundwater and an extensive system of underground lakes called cenotes for its water supply. Sea level rise is causing saltwater intrusion into this fragile supply, and a corresponding reduction in freshwater availability. Professor Guido is also concerned about an increase in tropical diseases and heat-related deaths, especially in rural areas.

This place that so many view as paradise is in danger of being lost.

***

Rebecca Phillips is a WVU Parkersburg retiree and a member of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action and the Green Sanctuary Committee of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Marietta.

Property rights take a back seat to fossil fuel profits

February 19, 2024

Dr. Randi Pokladnik

LTE Columbus Dispatch

Ohio pro-fossil-fuel laws are enabling both public and private lands to be exploited by out-of-state fossil fuel companies. In 2022, House Bill 507 was passed during the 2022 General Assembly “lame duck” session.

This bill did not accept public comments and opened up public lands for fracking leases.

The Oil and Gas Land Management Commission disregarded the nine criteria contained in the statute, the vocal disagreement of over 100 informed, angry Ohio citizens, and the peer-reviewed health and environmental studies.

Private lands are also open for fracking as citizens can be forced to participate in oil and gas development via a forced pooling or mandatory unitization action. Our family was recently notified that our land is no longer exclusively ours, but instead is a part of a unitization parcel.

The chief of the Division of Oil and Gas at ODNR approves a mandatory pooling application by considering correlative rights; providing for effective development and use; and promoting conservation of oil and gas. Environmental harms or health effects are not considered.

Landowners have the choice between participating in the drilling unit or nonparticipating and risking penalties. In Ohio, citizens’ property rights take a back seat to fossil fuel profits.

Climate Corner: Net metering benefits all

Feb 17, 2024

Jean Ambrose

editorial@newsandsentinel.come)

As someone who lives in rural Wood County, I experience frequent power outages. That means worrying about whether my freezer is going to thaw or if my blood sugar alarm is working. For my neighbor it’s her oxygen machine for COPD. That’s why the idea of “living off the grid” is so attractive to many people. When you can generate your own power you know it’s always there for you and you have the security that you’ll always be able to afford it.

With that in mind, we installed 18 solar panels six years ago. After the solar tax credit, the array cost us $12,000, which would take at least 10 years to get back in savings, but we wanted to contribute to reducing greenhouse gasses and also enjoy the sense of self reliance that comes from using the sun for our power needs. It still is magical to me. (A fun fact: the sun produces enough energy in one hour to power the entire globe for one year.) I could plug in an electric vehicle and eliminate my gasoline costs as well. The economic security this gives to a household is tremendous, to know you don’t have to worry about affording your heat and electricity and getting to work.

As electrification of our energy system moves inevitably forward, the case for making the change to solar gets stronger and stronger. Mon Power’s number of customers generating their own power increased from 306 in 2019 to 763 in 2023, according to PSC filings. Business and residential customers who have invested in their own solar power number around 5,000 according to Solar United Neighbors. If we use my own investment as an average, that means private individuals have voluntarily invested $60,000,000 into West Virginia’s power grid.

In return, customers with solar panels have a special electric meter that measures both kilowatts used and kilowatts generated; at the end of the month the customer pays for the difference or accumulates credits against their next bill. This is called net metering where the customer gets the same credit for the power they generate that the electric company charges. This is on top of the base rates they also pay to the electric companies which are supposed to be each customer’s share of transmission and distribution costs.

Seeing the increase in solar power, WV electric companies are working this legislative session to pay a much smaller wholesale rate for customer generated power. This eliminates the incentive for the average homeowner to make that big upfront investment; Dan Conant owner of Solar Holler in the Eastern Panhandle said his scheduled installations in First Energy territory all were canceled when this came up in the legislature. He thinks it will kill his business and any others in the state who are looking to invest in the jobs of the future in solar energy. (This happened in Nevada.) WV is ranked 49th per capita among all states jobs according to the annual census by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council with only 378 solar energy jobs, while Kentucky has 1595, Ohio has 7486, and Pennsylvania 4288 solar jobs .

41 states have net metering in place. It has been a critical policy for the expansion of solar businesses, but WV seems to want to discourage this economic development. WV electric companies say people who can’t afford solar energy are subsidizing those who can by not paying their share of transmission and distribution costs. That argument ignores the clear benefits to the electric grid and to other customers expansion of this energy resource provides. Solar home photovoltaic (PV) systems reduce the amount generated by or purchased from fossil fuel-fired plants. They decrease the amount of energy lost through transmission lines. By reducing demand on the grid, solar systems help ratepayers and utilities avoid the cost of new power plants, transmission lines and other electric infrastructure. Solar energy is stable, unlike the fluctuations we experience with other forms of energy, and helps stabilize rates otherwise subject to volatile fossil fuel prices. Solar PV energy also increases grid resiliency by decentralizing power production so one region’s problems don’t have to spill over into other regions.

Solar energy also creates valuable benefits to society at large and to the environment, which is one of my personal motivators for our family’s investment. 25% of greenhouse gasses which are warming our planet come from electricity production, the second highest after transportation (28% : EPA) Solar energy reduces air pollution that harms public health. It creates jobs and new business opportunities that spur local economies.

A review of 11 cost/benefit analyses of net metering revealed that solar energy brought more value to the community and society than the benefits received through net metering. (Shining Rewards: Lindsey Hallock, Frontier Group)

Net metering is smart public policy that creates benefits for all, including electric companies, and provides fair compensation to those who invest in solar. Government is always carving out exceptions and incentives for what are called “public/private partnerships.” Net metering is a creative public/private partnership that benefits, not just one or two companies, but hundreds of West Virginians, with the potential to benefit thousands. If solar homeowners were a single business, net metering would remain the law of the land without debate.

***

Jean Ambrose is trying not to be a criminal ancestor.

Climate Corner:‘Some animals are more equal than others’

Feb 10, 2024

Aaron Dunbar

editorial@newsandsentinel.com

One of my first actions as a fledgling climate activist was to deliver 100 books on the subject of climate and the environment to the office of my climate change denying Congressman, Bill Johnson. I harbored no illusions that this action would convert my bought-off Representative into some born again eco-warrior, but at the very least I figured that: A. it would rob him of the cover of claiming there was “insufficient information” about the subject of climate change, and B. it would annoy him, and that would be funny.

Among the works I included in this collection was Thomas Friedman’s 2008 book “Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution — and How It Can Renew America.” I enjoyed the book quite well at the time, and although I knew little else about the Pulitzer Prize winning author, I naively assumed that, because he was writing about climate, and because climate is the most important issue of our time, he and I must share at least a baseline similarity in terms of our overall worldview.

Fast forward to February 2, 2024, however, when the New York Times published the following article: “Understanding the Middle East Through the Animal Kingdom, by Thomas L. Friedman.”

Now, if that immediately sounds incredibly racist to you, don’t worry. It gets much worse.

Every Arab nation described in Friedman’s column is depicted as some species of insect, whereas the United States and Israel are “an old lion” and “a sifaka lemur,” respectively. Most notably, Friedman compares the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to a parasitoid wasp infecting its host, and flatly declares that “We have no counterstrategy that safely and efficiently kills the wasp without setting fire to the whole jungle.”

For the New York Times to publish something so blatantly racist and openly genocidal is shocking, though perhaps on-brand for the paper that helped lie us into the Iraq War and initially downplayed the threat of Adolf Hitler.

What’s perhaps more shocking to me is the amount of sheer indifference to the loss of human life on display from individuals like Friedman, who purport to be advocates for the survival of our planet.

Dr. Leah Stokes, an environmental political scientist, recently tweeted her support for Joe Biden in response to his administration’s pause on natural gas projects, stating that “President Biden is a climate leader. And Trump? He’s an arsonist.”

Bill McKibben, often worshiped by environmental activists as a veritable climate messiah, responded to this with “very well put.”

It’s unclear whether the two of them were unaware of or simply indifferent to the ongoing genocide in Gaza perpetrated by their dear “climate leader,” which to date is responsible for some 30,000 deaths, over 10,000 of them children. According to The Guardian, the first two months of Israel’s U.S.-backed bombing alone generated more CO2 emissions than twenty other nations annually — to say nothing of the immense reserves of natural gas in Gaza that are currently being eyed by “the old lion and the sifaka lemur” as they “set fire to the whole jungle.”

For years the climate movement has been inculcated with warnings about the extreme racism of the far right, and the danger of growing eco-fascist ideologies which seek to pin the blame for environmental catastrophe on issues such as immigration and overpopulation, particularly among the Global South. But by all appearances, this gross and racist callousness toward human suffering is being paralleled by relatively “mainstream” neoliberals who falsely label themselves as pro-climate.

As climate essayist Mary Annaise Heglar opined, “I’m super confused how anyone can call themselves fighting for a ‘livable future’ while staying silent in the face of a literal genocide.”

In December, the center-liberal Atlantic published an article entitled “War in the Congo Has Kept the Planet Cooler.” This disturbing title was swiftly changed in response to the predictable backlash it received, but not before offering a startling glimpse at how the publication clearly tallies the value of certain human lives.

“An argument for war being beneficial for the climate without stressing the human casualties enables discussions that can be unethical and perverse. It implies that lives, African lives, are disposable in search of climate solutions,” write Nteranya Ginga, Tshimundu, Koko Ginga, and J. Munroe in their response to said article, published via Brittle Paper.

And yet I can’t help but wonder, how is this any different from the multitude of those in the environmental movement who dismiss issues such as child slavery being used in Congo’s cobalt mines to power rechargeable batteries and electric vehicles? This is a subject frequently broached in bad faith by the right, but which largely gets hand-waved away by mainstream segments of the climate movement, and treated as a complete non-issue.

At the end of the day, it’s abundantly clear that there are those with so-called “environmentalist” leanings who view the lives of their fellow human beings as expendable. They’re more than willing to compromise and ignore the safety and well-being of others so long as their own interests are met — chiefly, the maintaining of their own comfortable lifestyles, regardless of the human cost.

True climate activism is about the sacred preservation of life on Earth. Any activism that runs counter to that goal, be it to defend war, industry, or ideology, is not climate activism at all. It must be vocally denounced and rejected out of hand, given no opportunity for purchase in our fight for a better, more equitable world.

***

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