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.

Guest column/Democracy denied at oil, gas commission meeting


Sep 29, 2023


On Sept. 18, about 75 Ohio citizens traveled from all over the state to attend the Oil and Gas Land Management Commission meeting. The meeting was to decide if thousands of acres of public land in Ohio, including Salt Fork State Park, Wolf Run State Park, Zepernick Wildlife Area and Valley Run Wildlife Area, would be open to bidding for oil and gas companies seeking to frack their acreages.

Legislation (HB 133) (passed in 2011 under then-Gov. John Kasich) opened up state lands to fracking. However, public outcry against the bill was so intense that Kasich “instituted a “de facto moratorium” on drilling in these areas by refusing to appoint members to a leasing commission mandated in the bill.

Fast forward to December, when Ohio’s majority Republican legislature fast-tracked HB 507, dubbed the “stuffed chicken bill,” through the lame duck session. In addition to opening state lands to oil and gas development, this bill also declared methane gas to be “green energy.” In a totally undemocratic process, the bill was quickly signed into law without any public comment period.

As mandated by the Ohio Revised Code 155.31, Gov. Mike DeWine appointed a five-person oil and gas land management commission. It includes two members with knowledge or experience in the oil and gas industry, and recommended by a statewide organization representing the oil and gas industry; one member of the public with expertise in finance or real estate; and one member representing a statewide environmental or conservation organization. The commission consists of Ryan Richardson (an attorney), Jim McGregor, Matthew Warnock (an energy attorney), Stephen Buehrer (an attorney) and Michael Wise (also an attorney, who was not present at the last two meetings.) Not one member has a background in environmental science, technology, engineering or the medical field. Yet they are charged with making decisions on whether or not to frack our state parks.

At the latest meeting, the commission was met by a very emotional crowd. People held up signs that read “deny” and “fake e-mails”. Several times members of the crowd yelled out things like “these are our parks” and “don’t frack our water.” Richardson, the commission chair, warned the crowd that she would clear the room if the comments were not stopped. At one point Buehrer, a commission member who represents real estate interests on the commission, responded, “We’re trying to conduct the state’s business here.”

It is ironic that these meeting are categorized as being open to the public. They are open but the public is not allowed to comment or ask questions of the commission at any time. Even though citizens are paying for state parks through their taxes, their voices have been silenced throughout this entire process. I have attended four of the OGLMC meetings this year and I can only describe the commission as ineffective and biased.

Some of the angst expressed by citizens in attendance was in part due to the way the commission and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has chosen to ignore “fake” e-mail comments that were in favor of fracking the parks.

“Dozens of citizens told Jake Zuckerman that their names and addresses were used without their knowledge on public comments supporting drilling for oil and gas in Ohio’s state parks.” Even though grassroots groups warned ODNR Director Mary Mertz, as well as the commission chair, that they had discovered fraudulent e-mails, Mertz “defended the decision to neither independently investigate nor remove from the official record, disputed, pro-fracking public comments.” Nevertheless, the attorney general has launched an investigation into the e-mails.

Thousands of Ohioans took time to submit real comments urging the commission to save Ohio parks. Many of these comments were technical with references to peer-reviewed studies on the effects of fracking on humans and ecosystems. By contrast, other than two sets of form letters, there were less than a dozen comments in support of fracking our public lands.

It was quite obvious that of the nine criteria to be used when considering fracking in Ohio parks (Ohio Revised Code 155.33), economics was far more important to the commission than any environmental damage or effects to the local tourism industry or visitors. The commission spent a great deal of time debating the current amount of royalties being paid by oil and gas companies for state lands. Matthew Warnock said the state legislature, which set royalties at 12.5 percent, set the value too low.

The four members present split over whether restrictions on fracking under parks sought by the Department of Natural Resources should be considered. These include: No well pads within 1,000 feet of the park boundary, a ban on use of park roads by oil and gas vehicles, rules about water and light pollution, as well as a temporary shutdown of some areas during hunting season. Because the commission could not agree on the ODNR restrictions, the matter was tabled until the next meeting.

The chair, Richardson, repeatedly claimed “I think the statute is very clear about what the scope of our authority is and is not, I don’t think we have the ability to simply say no.” But her statement is not factual. Why were nine specific criteria set for the commission to review if they did not have any recourse other than to say yes to all of the nominations? The relevant statute, ORC 155.33, says the commission can “approve or disapprove” lease nominations on the basis of the nine considerations, including economic benefit, environmental impact, geological impact, impact on visitors, and public comments and objections.

The Oil and Gas Land Management Commission is a prime example of regulatory capture, a form of corruption of authority that occurs when a political entity, policymaker or regulator is co-opted to serve the commercial, ideological or political interests of a minor constituency, such as an industry.

The commission is stacked in favor of the oil and gas industry, and the meetings are merely a puppet show with the strings being pulled by oil and gas interests. Citizens, hoping for an authentic process, diligently try to educate the commission on the many reasons why our Ohio parks should not be fracked. Yet, the commission, statehouse and DeWine have made it impossible for Ohio’s citizens to participate in a democratic process.

(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: Electrify the MOV, it just makes cents

Oct 7, 2023

Jonathan Brier

Electrification can be more economical and provides health and environmental benefits too. Why am I focusing on electrification? Last week was National Drive Electric Week (Sept. 22-Oct. 1) and we are entering the season where holiday decorations are powered by electricity for scary and fun displays, and lights hang from trees and bushes.

Infrastructure is not a sexy topic, it’s something most people don’t even think about until it breaks. What we choose to invest in as our infrastructure matters not just for immediate needs, but is about long term returns instead of increasing costs. Externalities are costs not always factored into the price you pay. We often end up paying more for healthcare, natural disasters, and environmental impacts. These costs can be harder to see.

Tracking the power grid emissions. PJM ( is the regional transmission organization which helps plan our region’s power balancing and includes a map on their homepage which shows the current price of electricity as well as power generation sources. Electricity Maps ( is a source of real time and historical power of cost, source, and carbon emission.

Have you considered how much you pay a year just to have gas service? I’m paying approximately $480 a year to maintain the connection even if I don’t use any natural gas. I plan to replace my furnace when it ages out with a cold climate heat pump. I’ll no longer need gas service and can factor in a $480 savings a year toward the cost of the install and operation of the new system. The Department of Energy is running a whole program on heat pumps for cold climates optimized down to -15 degrees F operation so these are not the heat pumps people say can’t handle the winter.

More on the fact sheet:

When we bought our house our gas hot water heater needed to be replaced so we installed a hybrid heat pump water heater as it had much higher efficiency compared to resistive electric since it moves heat from the basement to the water and had the benefit of dehumidifying the basement somewhat too. This change moved emissions from exhausting just outside of our house and in our neighborhood and moved those emissions to the power plant which can reduce even further as the grid becomes cleaner. Our house came with a gas stove which due to ongoing information on the indoor air quality including those from the American Chemical Society and Journal of Building Engineering we plan on replacing with an induction stove. Would like our future kid(s) to live in a healthier home environment with the added benefit of lowering the chance to get burns by eliminating the hot surface risk of conductive electric stoves.

I want to electrify my life except, the next step is my car. My approximately 100-mile round trip commute will be in an electric vehicle next year. I hope I can source renewable power generated here in the Mid-Ohio Valley and keep money here to benefit the community. I not only will be getting 60+ miles per gallon equivalent on the current grid carbon intensity according to the Union of Concerned Scientists calculator ( which beats my current 39 mpg. I’m making a huge impact in a few years in regards to carbon emissions (

What might we do to prepare for an electric future? Have proactive policies in place to make it cost less focused on construction and major remodels.

Plug in America has a policy toolkit to consider how to think and plan for the future: 

Rewiring America has an accessible tool to explore tax incentives available to you to help with upgrades:

Support development of renewables in the Mid-Ohio Valley. We can benefit from diversifying our tax sources, provide opportunities to diversify income for our county residents, and hedge risk in the economics of maturing technology.

Support “Agrivolatics.” If you are not familiar, it pairs solar with crops and livestock that benefit or have a net zero impact while providing stable revenue to the landowners.

Rethink how you’re powered. Rethink the future.

Other related links:




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



There is a lot of scholarly work looking at gas stoves and indoor air quality–ylo=2022&q=gas+stoves+and+indoor+air+quality&hl=en&as–sdt=0,36

American Chemical Society –

Journal of Building Engineering –

Suggested Readings for October 2023

MOVCA Selected Media Postings September 2023

Compiled by Cindy Taylor

Available on WTAP:

September 19, 2023 News article by Chase Campbell   Text and video  [Sean O’Leary (ORVI) is interviewed]

“Plans for Omnis Fuel Technologies Graphite Production Raise Concerns”

September 13, 2023 News article by Chase Campbell

“W.Va. DEP approves permit for planned medical waste incinerator in Jackson County”

Available on ABC 6:

September 15, 2023 Feature by Darrel Rowland    (Randi Pokladnik is interviewed)

“Fracking under Ohio state parks on agenda for the first time at Monday meeting”

Available on the Charleston Gazette-Mail: 

See articles by Mike Tony, Environment and Energy Reporter: 

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

“DEP seeks public comment on draft public engagement guidelines, including environmental justice analysis”

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

“DEP seeks public comment on draft public engagement guidelines, including environmental justice analysis”

September 7, 2023 Article by Mike Tony, Environment and Energy Reporter

“ ‘Let’s reinvent’: Omnis head talks big hydrogen game for Pleasants Power Station”

Available on Mountain State Spotlight:

September 26, 2023    Environment Article by Sarah Elbeshbishi

“Biden is touting hydrogen as a source of clean energy and West Virginia officials want in. Here’s what to know about hydrogen hubs”

September 6, 2023    Environment Article by Sarah Elbeshbishi

“Spurred by government funding, controversial waste-to-energy plants eye West Virginia”

Available on Athens County INDEPENDENT:

September 7, 2023 Article by Dani Kingston   (Article also published Sept. 9th in Inside Climate News)

“Local injection wells suspended over ‘imminent danger’ to drinking water”

Appearing in the Herald-Star (Steubenville);

September 29, 2023 Guest Column by Randi Pokladnik

“Democracy denied at oil, gas commission meeting”

Available on The Cleveland Plain Dealer:

September 15, 2023 Article by Jake Zuckerman, Sean McDonnell, Gretchen Cuda Kroen, and Peter Chakerian

“Nearly 150 now say they didn’t agree to use their names on pro-fracking form letters”

Available on Statehouse News Bureau: The Ohio Newsroom

September 20, 2023 News Article by Kendall Crawford

“Can we get rid of ‘forever chemicals?’ Ohio scientists research PFAS destruction”

Available on Ohio Capital Journal:

September 5, 2023 Article by Marty Schladen   Text and 4:30 audio

“Ohio utilities’ efficiency programs among the worst in wake of corruption utility law, report says”

 September 4, 2023 Article by Kathiann M. Kowalski

“Federal funds can help Ohio electric co-ops cut costs and carbon emissions”

September 4, 2023 Article by Kathiann M. Kowalski

“Critics question how climate-friendly an Appalachian ‘blue’ hydrogen hub will be”

Available on Save Ohio Parks:

September 15, 2023 Press Release about letter to Oil and Gas Land Management Commission  & Attorney General

“19 Ohio Organizations Urge State Officials to Halt State Land Leasing Decisions Until Investigations of Alleged Fake “Pro-Fracking” comments concludes”     (MOVCA was a signatory.   Link to letter provided.)

Available on the WV Climate Alliance:

September 20, 2022k  Press Release

“Public Energy Authority Must Follow State Code and Appoint an Environmental Advocate”

Available on West Virginia Environmental Council (WVEC):

September 19, 2023 WVEC Action Alert

“Urgent: Support updated rules for oil and gas cleanup protection”

Available on West Virginia Rivers:

September 2023 Newsletter

“What’s Happening at WV Rivers- September 2023”

Appearing on-line on Ohio River Valley Institute

September 20, 2023 Article  REPORT by Mark Partridge and Nick Messenger

“A Bigger Bang Approach to Economic Development: An Application to Rural Appalachian Ohio Energy Boomtowns”.

September 18, 2023 Article by Eric de Place and Julia Stone

“The Meaning of MVP” How Fracking in Appalachia is Linked to Downstream Climate-Killing Infrastructure”

Appearing on-line on ReImagine Appalachia:

September 27, 2023 10:30 -Noon  Event #2 in the SWPA Bioeconomy Series hosted by ReImagine Beaver Co.

“Economic Design for the Long Run with Industrial Hemp”  [Recording link provided.]

September 21, 2023 Article by Jessica Arriens, Senior Program Manager for Climate and Energy Policy at NWF

“Awesome Tax Credit Guidance – Autumn”

September 20, 2023 Press Statement

“ReImagine Appalachia Hails President Biden’s American Climate Corps”

September 7, 2023 Article by Annie Contractor and Molly Updegrove

“Your Community May Benefit from the New Recomplete Pilot Program”


Available on The WHITE HOUSE:

September 20, 2023 Press Release about American Climate Corps

“FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Launces American Climate Corps to Train Young People in Clean Energy, Conservation, and Climate Resilience Skills, Create Good-Paying Jobs and Tackle the Climate Crisis’

Available on

September 18, 2023 Article by Justin Nobel

“Inside West Virginia’s Chernobyl” A highly radioactive oil and gas facility has become a party sport in Marion County.

Available from

September 21, 2023 Press Release about new REPORT. (Link to report included)
“New research shows impact of building-electrification policies on reducing housing emissions”

Available on Science & Environmental Health Network:

September 28, 2023 Article by Sandra Steingraber, SEHN senior scientist

“The RePercussion Section: Tigers Abroad – Scientists Call for an End to Fossil Fuels on the Streets of New York”

September 28, 2023 Remarks by Sandra Steingraber, SEHN senior scientist  Text and recording link provided.

“Prepared Remarks of Testimony for the Columbian Debates on Fracking. Recorded on August 28,2023”

Available on Common Dreams:

September 29, 2023 Article by Brett Wilkins

“Microplastics in Clouds Could Be ‘Contaminating Nearly Everything We Eat and Drink’: Study

September 20, 2023 Article by Jake Johnson

“Embracing FDR’s Spirit and Progressive Demand, Biden Unveils American Climate Corps”

September 5, 2023 Opinion by Bill Kitchen

“Will the Mountain Valley Pipeline Safety Order Have Teeth, and Does Biden Care?

Available on The Guardian:

September 30, 2023  Climate crisis article by Damian Carrington, Environment editor    Interview with Michael Mann

“ ‘We’re not doomed yet’: climate scientist Michael Mann on our last chance to save human civilisation”

September 29, 2023 Article by Jonathan Watts, Lucy Swan, Rich Cousins, Garry Blight, Harvey Symons and Paul Scruton

“The hottest summer in human history – a visual timeline”

September 26, 2023   Article by Fiona Harvey, Environmental Editor

“ ‘Staggering’ green growth gives hope for 1.5C says global energy chief”

September 26, 2023   Article by Stephen Buranuyl

“ ‘We are just getting started’: the plastic-eating bacteria that could change the world”

September 17, 2023 Climate Crisis article by Dharna Noor and Aliya Uteuova

“Tens of thousands in NYC march against fossil fuels as AOC hails powerful message”

September 13, 2023 PFAS article by Kyle Bagenstose

“In our blood: how the US allowed toxic chemicals to seep into our lives”

September 11, 2023 Article by Fiona Harvey, Environmental editor

“Heat pumps twice as efficient as fossil fuel systems in cold weather, study finds”

Available on Inside Climate News:

September 26, 2023 Politics & Policy Article by Jon Hurdle

“A Drop in Emissions, and a Jobs Bonanza? Critics Question Benefits of a Proposed Hydrogen Hub for the Appalachian Region”

September 26, 2023 Fossil Fuels article by Terry L. Jones and Pam Radtke, Floodlight

“ A Known Risk: How Carbon Stored Underground Could Find Its Way Back Into the Atmosphere: Other concerns include the potential for earthquakes and contamination of groundwater”

September 13, 2023 Fossil Fuels article by Dani Kington, Athens County Independent

“Ohio Injection Wells Suspended Over “Imminent Danger to Drinking Water”

September 5, 2023 Science Article by Danish Bajwa

“A Medical Toolkit for Climate Resiliency Is Built on the Latest Epidemiology and ER Best Practices”

Available on Yale Environment 360:

September 19, 2023 Article by Jim Robbins

“Road Hazard: Evidence Mounts on Toxic Pollution from Tires”

Available from Yale Climate Connections:

September 27, 2023 Article by YCC Team

“Electric vehicles may improve a community’s health”

September 20, 2023 Article by Dana Nuccitelli

“The Inflation Reduction Act is reducing U.S. reliance on China”

Climate Corner: The future is NOW!

Sep 30, 2023

Linda Eve Seth

“The dog days of summer are not just barking, they are biting.” — U.N. Sec. Gen. Antonio Guterres


Global climate change is not a future problem. Effects that scientists have been predicting would result from global climate change are occurring now.

Summers are always hot. But this summer was different in profound ways. Record-breaking temperatures hit multiple cities. Records for heat fell everywhere. Globally, summer 2023 was the hottest summer on record.

The U.S. broke more than 2,000 high temperature records this summer. In July alone, nearly 200 million people — 60% of the U.S. population — were simultaneously under an extreme heat or flood advisory.

Today, with 3 months still left in the year, the U.S. has already experienced more billion-dollar weather disasters in 2023 than in any other year since authorities started tracking such data 40-plus years ago.

Catastrophic floods in the Hudson Valley; Unrelenting heat dome over Phoenix; Ocean temperatures hitting 101 degrees Fahrenheit off the coast of Miami in July (highest ever recorded); A rare flooding deluge in Vermont; A surprising tornado in Delaware; The first hurricane to hit southern California in more than 80 years. And in Iowa in late August, it was so hot that the CORN was literally sweating.

A decade ago, any one of these events would have been seen as an aberration. This year, they have been happening simultaneously as climate change fuels extreme weather.

Changes to Earth’s climate driven by increased emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are already having widespread effects on the environment world-wide: glaciers and ice sheets are shrinking, river and lake ice is breaking up earlier, plant and animal geographic ranges are shifting, and plants and trees are blooming sooner.

Not every place experiences the same effects: Climate change may cause severe drought in one region while making floods more likely in another. Following are some of the impacts currently being experienced across the planet.

Longer-lasting droughts: Hotter temperatures increase the rate at which water evaporates from the air, leading to more severe and pervasive droughts. The western US is experiencing a severe “megadrought” — the driest 22-year stretch recorded in at least 1,200 years. (125+ consecutive days without rainfall in Phoenix, AZ this summer.), shrinking drinking water supplies, withering crops, forests more susceptible to insect infestations.

More intense wildfires: Drier, hotter climate creates conditions fueling more vicious wildfire seasons. The number of large wildfires doubled between 1984 and 2015 in the western United States.

Stronger storms: Warmer air also holds more moisture, making tropical cyclones wetter, stronger and more capable of rapidly intensifying. The frequency of severe Category 4 and 5 hurricanes is expected to increase.

Melting sea ice: The effects of climate change are most apparent in the world’s coldest regions–the poles. The Arctic is heating up twice as fast as anywhere else on earth. In just 15 years, the Arctic could be entirely ice-free in the summer.

Sea level rise: The predicted 12 inches of sea level rise by 2050 will damage infrastructure, like roads, sewage treatment plants, and even power plants. Recreational beaches that many of us have grown up visiting may be gone by the end of the century.

Less predictable growing seasons: Farming crops is becoming more unpredictable–and livestock, which are sensitive to extreme weather, have become challenging to raise. Climate change shifts precipitation patterns, causing unpredictable floods and longer-lasting droughts. More frequent and severe hurricanes can devastate an entire season’s worth of crops. The dynamics of pests, pathogens, and invasive species are also expected to become harder to predict and costly for farmers to manage. These impacts to our agricultural systems pose a direct threat to the global food supply.

Human health: Climate change worsens air quality. It increases exposure to hazardous wildfire smoke and ozone smog triggered by warmer conditions, both of which harm our health. Insect-borne diseases become more prevalent in a warming world. In the past 30 years, the incidence of Lyme disease from ticks has doubled in the United States.

Climate change is already impacting weather, environment, agriculture, and humanity. But ultimately, if we all work to reduce emissions, we may avoid some of the worst effects.

The Earth is a fine place and worth fighting for. — Ernest Hemingway

Until next time, be kind to your Mother Earth.


Linda Eve Seth, SLP, M.Ed., is a mother, grandmother, concerned citizen and member of MOVCA.

Climate Corner: With ‘friends’ like these…

Sep 23, 2023

Eric Engle

As a Mon Power ratepayer, I have to say I’m really tired of being on the hook for the refusal of the powers that be in West Virginia to move on from coal energy. To quote from a piece in the Charleston Gazette-Mail by energy and environment reporter Mike Tony, “Mon Power and Potomac Edison already have a request pending before West Virginia utility regulators for a $207.4 million, 13% increase in customers’ base rate.”

Tony continues, “That’s the rate that accounts for all utility service expenses, including operating and maintenance costs, taxes and depreciation. Now the FirstEnergy utilities have asked the Public Service Commission for a roughly $167.5 million increase in customers’ rate to cover fuel costs effective Jan. 1, 2024. The PSC approved a $91.8 million rate increase to cover Mon Power and Potomac Edison fuel costs in December [2022]. The rate hike followed a $94 million rate hike the PSC approved for the utilities in May 2022, also for fuel costs. That followed a $19.5 million fuel cost rate increase approved in December 2021.”

Did you hear that cash register sound over and over again in your head as you read that last paragraph? You can thank West Virginia’s coal baron Governor, Jim Justice, his coal industry flunkies on the West Virginia “Public Service” Commission and a Republican supermajority in the state legislature. You can also thank the West Virginia Coal Association and the “Friends of Coal” campaign for the cultural manipulation tactics they’ve deployed to protect their air and water polluting, soil degrading, climate destabilizing and public health threatening status quo.

It’s not just West Virginia that’s engaged in total fossil fuels nonsense, though. A recent report from the organization Oil Change International shows that the U.S. accounts for more than a third of the planned oil and gas expansion globally by 2050. Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), describes fossil fuels expansion efforts as “very unhealthy and unwise economic risks.” Birol was quoted in The Guardian newspaper as saying, “New large-scale fossil fuel projects not only carry major climate risks, but also business and financial risks for the companies and their investors.”

The IEA was created in 1974 to help coordinate a collective response to major disruptions in the supply of oil, according to its website. It’s not exactly a bastion of climate and environmental concern. Investors and fiduciaries would do well to heed the warning of an agency like the IEA that helps coordinate energy policy all over the world and has for almost 50 years. Just don’t tell that to State Treasurer and District 02 congressional candidate, Riley Moore (R-WV), or Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate, Patrick Morrisey (R-WV).

Moore and Morrisey have been on a years-long crusade against Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing — investment strategy that accounts for things like climate change and its impacts on finance. They call it “woke capitalism.” I guess now it’s “woke,” used derogatorily of course, to consider how the destabilization of life-supporting systems on our only home in the cosmos might impact a person’s or entity’s portfolio.

That makes about as much sense as the letter to the editor in this paper last week suggesting that the wildfires in Maui had nothing to do with climate change. Hawaii is an average two degrees warmer than in 1950 across its surface area. Hot, dry conditions and hurricane winds from a category 4 storm fueled by almost unfathomable ocean heat created the perfect conditions for a devastating wildfire. Anthropogenic (human-caused) global heating, aka climate change, was most certainly a detectable culprit in all of the above.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that threating the habitability of a planet of which we are an intimate part is a costly endeavor, not just in terms of physical harm and lives lost, but to the bottom lines of energy ratepayers, investors and the labor force. According to a recent analysis by the Stockholm Resilience Center, we have now transgressed 6 of 9 planetary boundaries: Biochemical flows (i.e. phosphorous and nitrogen accumulating in streams); freshwater change/use; land-system change; biosphere integrity; climate change (i.e. C02 and equivalent greenhouse gas accumulation and radiative forcing); and novel entities (i.e. plastics pollution). The remaining three boundaries (stratospheric ozone depletion, atmospheric aerosol loading and ocean acidification) we perform some better on, though we’re close to exceeding the acidification boundary as well. These transgressions are costly.

I don’t want astronomical power bills. I don’t want stranded assets for retirement investments. I want West Virginia to remain an energy state–cleaner, safer, healthier, more sustainable, more efficient and more affordable green energy. I encourage you to reflect on what you really want and not just on bumper sticker and license plate logic like being a “friend of coal,” whatever that means.


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

Climate Corner: Beyond shopping bags

News & Sentinel

Sep 16, 2023

Jean Ambrose

After a month of climate-induced catastrophes across the world–so called “thousand year” floods in eight countries in just the past eleven days! –I’ve been feeling as though my efforts to avoid single use plastics or take my own bags to the grocery store are almost too feeble to matter.

The pictures are all the same: brown rushing water, bodies, smashed cars, ruined real estate, survivors who have lost everything they owned. People who contributed nothing to the problem wandering in shock.

How was it decided that the air, the water, and the earth under our feet can be owned and trashed for the sole purpose of making a profit, but we all have to bear the consequences of that destruction in polluted air, water, and a warming planet? That maintaining and expanding that profit justifies almost any action. Contributions to politicians ensure that fossil fuels development is expanded. This year alone the U.S. has approved $1.5 billion in fossil fuel financing, more than any other country, and we continue to break records in domestic oil production. We see corruption large and small: Just this week, it was reported in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that a front organization for the natural gas industry, the Consumer Energy Alliance, used people’s names without their knowledge on petitions to allow fracking in Ohio State Parks, including those close to us, Salt Fork and Wolf Run.

There’s no question the fossil fuel industry is the wealthiest one the world has ever known. Since the Industrial Revolution first used fossil fuels to produce energy, large economies have been driven by carbon-emitting energy, agriculture, and industrial systems. What we often overlook is the invisible financial underpinnings of the fossil fuel economy, such as banking, capital investment, and insurance. The financial world is being disrupted in an unprecedented way by the climate crisis.

For example, insurance companies are pulling out of states because the climate risk of fires and floods is too great. State Farm and Allstate will no longer offer property insurance to new clients in California. Farmers Insurance will no longer write policies in Florida. The National Flood Insurance Program is $20 billion in debt and had to raise rates last year, making it even more unaffordable.

This represents a profound opportunity for climate activists and gives us something more meaningful to do than remember our shopping bags. Campaigns for cultural, educational, and religious institutions to divest their investments from fossil fuels pull the legitimacy or permission bestowed by the community for the fossil fuel industry to burn and flood the planet. This is called the “social license to operate,” a term created by the mining and extraction industries in the past 25 years. “A social license to operate exists when a mineral exploration or mining project is seen as having the approval, the broad acceptance of society to conduct its activities…Such acceptability must be achieved on many levels, but it must begin with, and be firmly grounded in, the social acceptance of the resource development by local communities (Joyce and Thomson 2000: 52).” Rescinding this approval gets to the root of the climate crisis.

The divestment movement was sparked by Bill McKibben, founder of when he said “If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage” (McKibben, 2012). Divestment allows institutions to align their actions with their mission and values to restore a livable future. Divestment in higher education is the single most common activity among college students this year in climate action. According to the Guardian this week, more than 250 US higher education Institutions have divested from fossil fuels.

This is something we all can research and act upon, maybe in divestment clubs? Where do you keep your savings? Where is your pension invested? What about bequests in your will? How about your church? Community cultural and philanthropic institutions? You can find out about investment funds at 350’s Go Fossil Free campaign is a good place to start if you want to pursue divesting or start a campaign. has the most comprehensive database , listing 1596 institutions worldwide which have divested more than 40 trillion from the fossil fuel industry, and is a great source of ideas.

We can reduce an array of carbon emissions through the ways we decide to spend and save as well as by how institutions transact, invest, and trade. Your retirement plan, your bank, or your credit card company may be funding the climate crisis but it doesn’t have to.


Jean Ambrose is trying not to be a criminal ancestor.

Climate Corner: Human stories amid our changing climate

Sep 9, 2023

Rebecca Phillips

(Photo Provided)

This column often focuses on facts and figures, and those are important, but today I want to share stories from the front lines of climate change. We in the Mid-Ohio Valley are–for the moment–in one of the areas spared the worst of climate change effects, but some of the places and people we care about are increasingly in harm’s way.

Part of my childhood was spent on Fort Myers Beach, a barrier island off the coast of southwest Florida. My sister and I spent a lot of time at the public beach, watching the sunset from the pier and occasionally visiting the tiny restaurants and snack bars that dotted the small commercial district. My mother and her sister at one time worked at an old-fashioned drug store in that same commercial hub, my father in the produce section of a nearby grocery. When Hurricane Ian made landfall a year ago, that area was leveled–not a single building left standing and most of the pier washed away. While I had not missed the island enough to visit in the last forty years, knowing that every structure from that area where we spent so much time was destroyed — in a single storm — was a shock.

2023 has been the year of wildfires. The smoke from Canada that blanketed the eastern U.S. for several days was followed by the devastating fires on Maui, which killed 115 people, with more than 300 others still unaccounted for. And the fires keep coming.

WVUP journalism graduate Matthew Stephens edits the Cheney Free Press in Spokane County, Wash., where wildfires last month burned more than 20,000 acres and left two people dead. His reporting and photographs brought home the reality of the fires’ devastation. Stunned evacuees reported having to change course while seeking shelter because the fire spread so fast as to close off their initial escape route, burning some 10,000 acres in a matter of minutes. Traffic on one of the roads that remained open backed up nearly 20 miles at one point.

Animals that escaped or were in some cases turned loose when their owners fled have been held at a local fairgrounds, where veterinarians are treating them and volunteers are attempting to reunite them with their owners. When Matt was photographing the aftermath, he met a woman walking around with a bag of chicken feed, hoping that some of her chickens had escaped the flames. Miraculously, some had. The full coverage can be seen at

(Photo Provided)

Most of us probably think hurricanes are Louisiana’s most common natural disaster, but right now, the state is on fire, a third of its parishes having declared wildfire emergencies. One of the driest summers on record has led to an average of 21 wildfires per day in the state, with more than 60,000 acres burned as of Aug. 30. Another WVUP graduate, now living near Fort Johnson, had to evacuate when the Vernon Parish fire reached to within a football-field length of her home.

On Aug. 30, Hurricane Idalia made landfall on Florida’s central Gulf coast, with 125-mile-an-hour winds and storm surges of up to ten feet. Bridges closed, stranding residents who did not evacuate in time. Much of Tampa, where I lived for eight years, was under water. Tropical Storm Lee, now forming in the Atlantic, is forecast to become a Category 4 hurricane over the next few days, with winds of 145 miles an hour.

What do these disasters have to do with climate change? Droughts, fires, and hurricanes are nothing new in our planet’s history; however, they are becoming more common as increased levels of atmospheric CO2 lead to warmer air and ocean temperatures. Warmer oceans, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, cause hurricanes to strengthen and become more deadly. NASA has documented the effects of warmer air temperatures on rain patterns, with increased drought conditions in many areas and more intense rain events in others. The Mid-Ohio Valley has thus far not experienced the worst of our current climate extremes, but we cannot be sure that our good luck will continue.


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.

(Photo Provided)

Suggested Readings for September 2023

MOVCA Selected Media Postings August 2023 (and a few articles omitted from last report)

Compiled by Cindy Taylor

Appearing online in The Marietta Times:

August 10, 2023 Local News article  by Nancy Taylor, Staff Reporter. Article also in N&S (8-12-23) link below.

“SAI Tech shows Marietta 90-day Progress”

Appearing online in The Parkersburg News and Sentinel: 

August 19, 2023   Business article, Staff Report

“Group asks EPA to deny West Virginia authority over carbon storage projects”

Available online on WTAP:

August 29, 2023 Feature by Chase Campbell   text and video

“EPA rolls back wetland protections following SCOTUS decision on Clean Water Act”

August 20, 2023 Feature by Chase Campbell   text and video

“Groups raise concerns as W.Va. hydrogen project picks up steam”

August 11, 2023  Associated Press

“EPA weighs formal review of vinyl chloride, toxic chemical that burned in Ohio train derailment”

August 9, 2023 Feature by Chase Campbell

“SAI.TECH powers up research center in Marietta”

Available on the Charleston Gazette-Mail: 

See articles by Mike Tony, Environment and Energy Reporter: 

August 31, 2023 Article by Mike Tony, Environment and Energy Reporter

“New solar surcharge to raise Mon Power and Potomac Edison bills amid ratepayer advocate alarm over utilities’ net metering plan”

August 30, 2023 Article by Mike Tony, Environment and Energy Reporter

Saved From An Uncertain Future, Pleasants Power Station Is Reactivated”

August 30, 2023 Article by Mike Tony, Environment and Energy Reporter

“Mountain Valley Pipeline developer subsidiary’s pipeline expansion project construction underway in Wetzel County”

August 16, 2023 Article by Mike Tony, Environment and Energy Reporter

“Officials dismiss concerns to approve $62.5M loan for Mason County hydrogen project”

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

“Some differences between planned Mason County hydrogen facility up for $62.5M state loan and past ‘high impact’ projects”

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

“Mon Power, Potomac Edison ratepayers still on the hook for Pleasants Power Station costs”

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

“Meeting to consider forgivable $62.5M loan for Mason County hydrogen production and carbon capture project scheduled”

August 7, 2023 Article by Mike Tony, Environment and Energy Reporter

“Flood resiliency law funding not provided for deluge-prone WV in Justice’s special session call”

August 3, 2023 Article by Mike Tony, Environment and Energy Reporter

“Pleasants Power Station sale complete as new ownership plans coal, hydrogen and graphite for plant’s future”

Available on Ohio Capital Journal:

August 24, 2023 Article by Susan Tebben

“Study: Shale gas boom ‘failed to deliver’ prosperity for Appalachia”

August 10, 2023 Article by Allison Winter

“USDA’s climate grants for farm and forests run into Republican buzzsaw”

Available on Save Ohio Parks:

August 24, 2023 Announcement about Saturday Sept 23rd meeting organized by Concerned Citizens of Ohio

“Salt Fork Town Hall to Discuss Fracking and More”

August 12, 2023  Article by Melinda Zemper

“Save Ohio Parks Releases Music Video to Fight Fracking”

August 4, 2023 Article by Melinda Zemper

“Ohio’s Marcellus Shale Ranks Second in U.S. Greenhouse Gases, Fourth Worldwide”

Available on the WV Climate Alliance:

August 16, 2023 Press release by Morgan King, WV Rivers Coalition

“WV Groups Support the Inflation Reduction Act as a Good First Step”

Available on West Virginians for Energy Freedom:

August 2023  About issue of Net Metering and link for petition to sign

“Power companies have a plan to kill solar in West Virginia

Available on West Virginia Environmental Council (WVEC):

August 29, 2023 WVED Action Alert by WV Citizen Action Group

“WV to NY: March for Climate Justice”

August 24, 2023 WVEC Action Alert by Solar United Neighbors

“Urgent Action: Stop the Attack on Solar in West Virginia”

Available on-line on WV Rivers  :

See August West Virginia Rivers News and updates

Appearing on-line on Ohio River Valley Institute

August 22, 2023 Article by Sean O’Leary about new REPORT with link to download

“FRACKALACHIA UPDDATE: Peak Natural Gas and the Economic Implications for Appalachia”

August 21, 2023 Article by Ted Boettner

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

August 21, 2023 Article by Ted Boettner

“The Unemployment Gap in Appalachia”

August 17, 2023 Article by Eric de Place and Julia Stone  text and 8:01 minute audio

“Appalachia is Likely the Largest Source of Methane Emissions in the US”

Appearing on Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services:

August 30, 2023 Article by Tina Perez, Fair Shake Legal Intern

“Pleasants Power Station – Potential Permits and Approvals Needed for Pyrolysis Plans”

Appearing on-line on ReImagine Appalachia:

August 23, 2023 Webinar on Zoom

“Climate Smart Agriculture: Impacts from The Affordable Clean Energy Plan”

August 22, 2023 Description of upcoming October 5th Listening Session with link to register

“Listening Session: ReImagining Shuttered Coal Plants”

August 29, 2023 Article by Sionainn Rudek with description of Spring webinar organized by ReImagine Appalachia’s Faith Action group. Links to resources and recording provided.

“Environmental Justice for All: Ensuring Equity and Benefits Across Our Most Climate-Impacted Communities”

August 16, 2023 Article by Rike Rothenstein, Research Associate for ReImagine Appalachia

“Appalachian Success Stories From Climate Infrastructure Funding”

August 10, 2023  Annie Regan presents summary of New Report with link to recording of press conference

“New Report: Re-Connecting Appalachia’s Disconnected Workforce through Targeted Employment’

August 1, 2023 Coalition Biweekly Lunchtime Update:

Learn about the Appalachian Sustainable Potential Map

July 31, 2023  Article about Event with description of speakers, link to recording, presentations…

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

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

August 29, 2023 Environment article by James Doubek

“The EPA removes federal protections from most of the country’s wetlands”

August 1, 2023 Energy and Environment article by Caroline MacGregor

“W.Va. Produced Ray Of Life Solar Kits Headed To Ukraine”

August 1, 2023 Article by Josh Funk AP

“Norfolk Southern changes policy on overheated bearings, months after Ohio derailment”

August 1, 2023 Energy and Environment article by Curtis Tate

“Capito, Republican Senators Ask EPA To Scrap Proposed Power Plant Rules”

Available on The Allegheny Front:

August 25, 2023 Article by Rachel MeDevitt about series on climate change. Links to audio recordings.

“What Can One Person Do About Climate Change? Climate Solutions will help you get started”


Available on E&E News ENERGYWIRE: (politico

August 18, 2023 ENERGYWIRE Article by Carlos Anchondo   (MOVCA is signature and Eric Engle quoted)

“EPS oversight of CO2 injection wells stirs debate”  Two letters to the agency this week highlight a dispute over whether Stages can adequately and safely oversee injection wells critical for carbon capture technology.

Available on DeSmog:

August 16, 2023 Article by Sara Sneath

“Industry Plans Thousands of Miles of New Gas Pipelines to Boost LNG Exports”

Available from FrackCheckWV: 

August 4, 2023 Article by Tom Bond  (from article by Nadia Ramiagan, Ohio News Service, August 1, 2023)

“UPDATE – Ohioans Skeptical That More Fracking Will Bring Benefits”

August 3, 2023 Essay on Regional & Global Impacts by Randi Pokladnik

“The Effects from Fracking Ohio’s Parks Reach Far Beyond the State”’s-parks-reach-far-beyond-the-state/

Available on Fractracker Alliance

August 31, 2023 Article by Erica Jackson with links to map and data

“How Spills, Holes, and Cracks Release Fracking Chemicals into the Environment”

Available on Common Dreams:

August 16, 2023 Article by Jake Johnson

“Kids Who Live Near Fracking Sites Are Up to 7 Times More Likely to Develop Lymphoma: Study”

August 4, 2023 Article by Brett Wilkins

“Cardiovascular ER Visits Plunged After Pittsburgh Coal Plat Shut, Study Finds”


Available from Our Children’s Trust Youth v. Gov

August 14, 2023 Press Release

“Sweeping Constitutional Win for Held v. State of Montana Youth Plaintiffs”

Available from NASA:

August 24, 2023 Press Release

“NASA Shares First Images from US Pollution-Monitoring Instrument”

August 14, 2023 Press Release
“NASA Clocks July 2023 as Hottest Month on Record Ever Since 1880”

Available on BIG THINK:

August 3, 2023 Feature by Frank Jacobs    Text with maps and audio. (Great explanation of ocean currents.)

“No, the Gulf Stream isn’t going to collapse”

Available on PHYS.ORG:

August 24, 2023 Article by Roland Lloyd Parry, Marlowe Hood

“Top science publisher withdraws flawed climate study”

Available on

August 31, 2023 Press release

“National Cleanup Day Returns on September 16th

August 23, 2023 Article by Rodolfo Beltran

“The Interconnection of Health, Environment, and Climate Education”

August 16, 2023 Planet vs. Plastics Article by Grace Higgins

“You are What You Eat: Plastics in our Food”

August 2, 2023 Feature by Aidan Charron
“60 x 40”: A Global Wave to Halt Plastic Production and Save Our Planet”

July 31, 2023 Press Release

“Planet VS. Plastics: Global Theme for Earth Day 2024”

July 31, 2023  Planet vs. Plastics Feature by Eryn Gold
“Extended Producer Responsibility: A Solution or a Checked Box?

July 31, 2023 Feature by Lindey Helwagen

“Fast Fashion and Its Devastating Impacts on Forests Revealed”

July 21, 2023 Feature by Lindey Helwagen  
“Life in Plastic, It’s Not Fantastic’

Available on

August 24, 2023 Press Release by

“Groundbreaking Documentary “Esto es Fracking” by Exposes Devastating Impacts of Oil and Gas Expansion in Argentina”

August 18, 2023 Article by Melanie Smith

“What we can Learn from Maui about Decolonizing Wildfire Response”

August 17, 2023  Article by Matilda Borgstrom

“Another summer of broken heat records, But we know what we need to do”

August 1, 2023 Press Release about event happening November 3rd and  4th, 2023

“Global Days of Action To Power Up Renewables”

Available on The Guardian:

August 23, 2023  Extreme Weather article by Richard Luscombe

“Record heatwave persists in US as 130 million under alerts in 22 states”

August 23, 2023  Fossil Fuel article by Ajit Niranjan

“G20 poured more than $1tn into fossil fuel subsides despite Cop26 pledges – report”

August 21, 2023 Environmental Activism article by Ajit Niranjan

“Anger is most powerful emotion by far for spurring climate action, study finds”

August 14, 2023 Article  by Helena Horton, Environmental reporter

“Dead flies could be used to make biodegradable plastic, scientists say”

August 11, 2023 Article by Oliver Milman

“Green investment boom and electric car sales: six key things about Biden’s Climate bill”

August 7, 2023  Article by Andrew Gregory, Health editor

“Air pollution linked to rise in antibiotic resistance that imperils human health”

August 7, 2023 Article by Dharna Noor and Kristi Swarth of Floodlight

“US utilities oppose Biden efforts to make gas power plants cleaner”

August 4, 2023 Article by Tom Perkins

“ ‘It feels like an apocalyptic movie’: life in East Palestine six months after toxic train crash”

August 3, 2023  PFAS article by Tom Perkins

“Chemical companies’ PFAS payouts are huge – but the problems is even bigger”

Available on Inside Climate News:

August 23, 2023  Fossil Fuels article by Jon Hurdle

“Appalachian Economy Sees Few Gains From Natural Gas Development, Report Says”

August 22, 2023 Politics & Policy Article by Phil McKenna

“Federal Regulators Raise Safety Concerns Over Mountain Valley Pipeline in Formal Notice”

August 8, 2023 Fossil Fuels Article by Quinn Glabicki, PublicSource

“Inside Pennsylvania’s Monitoring of the Shell Petrochemical Complex”

August 4, 2023 Politics & Policy Article by Jon Hurdle

“ ‘Halliburton Loophole’ Allows Fracking Companies to Avoid Chemical Regulation” New research finds fracking-industry exemption for 28 chemicals otherwise regulated by federal law.

August 3, 2023 Inside Clean Energy article by Dan Gearino

“Labor and Environmental Groups Have Learned to Get Along. Here’s the Organization in the Middle” The leader of BlueGreen Alliance talks about what brings his members together and some of the big challenges.

Available on The CONVERSATION:

August 23, 2023 Environment and Energy Article by Julie Arbit, Brad Bottoms, and Earl Lewis

“Looking for a US ‘climate haven’ away from heat and disaster risks? Good luck finding one”

Available from Yale Climate Connections:

August 25, 2023 Article by YCC team
“Could common medicines make heatwaves more dangerous?”

August 15, 2023 Article by YCC team

“Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C would save half the world’s glaciers, study finds”

August 3, 2023 Article by Samantha Harrington. Interview with Meteorologist Alexandra Steele

“Introducing new Eye on the Storm YouTube series on extreme weather”

The Teflon Time Machine – from the Manhattan Project to the Mid-Ohio Valley

Sep 2, 2023

Callie Lyons

The years between World War I and World War II were full of innovation, technological advances, and scientific growth. Many modern inventions — or the perfection of modern inventions — take root in that time. And, so it is with Teflon, a specialty plastic or fluoropolymer with some highly desirable properties, and also some deadly consequences.

While the invention of Teflon in 1938 came about by accident in the laboratory of Roy Plunkett, who was working on a refrigerant, being able to safely manufacture the substance took some time. At the intersection of modern chemistry and global history, developing a means to bond carbon and fluorine was seen as a solution to a problem — and one that had little to do with what goes on in the kitchen.

Around this time, prominent U.S. scientists were warning President Franklin D. Roosevelt that Germany would soon have a nuclear bomb. In response, the U.S. initiated a covert program to stockpile and weaponize uranium and create the atom bomb. This program was called The Manhattan Project.

In order to accomplish such a task, the government needed industry to develop a compound that would be virtually indestructible — one that could withstand the harshest conditions without breaking down. This was fundamental to the production of components necessary for the physical construction of the bomb. While scientists were looking to the bonding of carbon and fluorine for the answer, such a marriage was a dangerous and explosive proposition. First, they needed to develop the technology to merge them safely and in large quantities. In doing so, some of the resultant tech led to processes for making bomb components — and some was licensed by industry.

By 1944, DuPont still faced some difficulties with the mass production of Teflon. This became all too apparent when an accident occurred just before Thanksgiving at the company’s New Jersey facility — ripping apart a building and killing two workers. In the aftermath, the corporation decided to construct a plant specifically for the manufacture of Teflon. They selected Washington, W.Va., as the site of this new endeavor.

A photo of the newborn manufacturing facility kept in the Hagley Digital Archives shows a rather sparse looking place that is nearly unrecognizable as the Washington Works of today.

The rest, as they say, is history. Forever chemicals formed by the bonding of carbon and fluorine are essential to the production of Teflon and thousands of other consumer applications. However, PFAS are so slippery that their release into the environment proved most difficult to control. For decades DuPont used a riverside landfill for the disposal of Teflon waste. In time, a growing awareness of contamination issues led the corporation to relocate the contents of this landfill. They dug it up and moved it to Dry Run.

And, so began the Tennant family’s struggles — and the legendary battle over their cattle and the mysterious wasting disease that killed their entire herd.

Today this is all part of our chemical legacy.

The proliferation of PFAS had a 50-year head start on concerns over health and the environment. Evidence that exposure leads to the development of cancer and other health problems has done little to slow the spread. Industry keeps making new derivatives and putting them into use. PFAS can be found in the environment globally, in every body of water, and in the bloodstream of every human alive — from before birth.

If you are interested in a more thorough, academic exploration of the subject, I invite you to explore “Timebombing the Future” by Dr. Rebecca Altman.


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.