Citizen Referees Storm Ohio Statehouse Hearing over Stonewalled Fracking Bills
Frustrated after several months of deliberate stonewalling of six bills to slow or halt fracking and deep waste injection, students, farmers, small business owners and community members ensured their presence was felt as the bills were given their first ever introductory hearing at the Ohio Statehouse on April 18. Activists believe the delay on hearings of these bills is directly linked with the $2.8 million the Gas Industry has poured into the Ohio Legislature, including $213,000 in campaign contributions allotted to Gov. John Kasich. Hearing rumors that the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Chair had no intention of allowing further hearings or opportunities for public comment, activists—many dressed in referee jerseys—packed the hearing room to call foul on the the gas industry’s corruption of the legislative process.
“I came here today to hold our representatives accountable to the people they’re supposed to represent," said local small business owner Jennie Scheinbach. "A majority of Ohioans want to see a halt to fracking until it can be proven to be safe. The frackers have a lot of money, but we have truth and people power on our side. I’m hoping that will prevail today.”
Fracking is quickly becoming a top tier issue for Ohioans due to growing concern over the local environmental and health impacts. Two hundred marched against the industry’s first Ohio conference in Youngstown last November. More than three hundred rallied on the steps of the Statehouse in January calling for a halt to fracking and waste injection throughout the state. Activists have even been arrested in recent months for disrupting industry operations in efforts to protect impacted communities.
In what activists deemed to be an effort to quell resistance, the Ohio House pushed back the hearings of the six bills for hours until many activists could no longer stay. Although originally notified the bills would receive a first hearing between 3 and 5 p.m., hearing attendees were informed only at 4 p.m. that the bills would not be heard until 7 p.m.
“As a student at Ohio State, I felt called to participate in this action," said OSU junior, Adrian Jusdanis. "Just as the administration at Ohio State isn’t honoring the voices of students in their decision to frack on university land, our representatives aren’t honoring the voices of distressed citizens across Ohio. They demonstrated their preference for the gas industry today in further delaying the hearing on bills that would slow or put a halt to toxic fracking operations in our state," he said.
Undeterred by the further delay, about a dozen remained at the Statehouse ensuring the voices of concerned Ohioans were represented. The growing collective power brought by students, farmers and community members will be showcased this summer in a mobilization called Don’t Frack Ohio. A coalition of Ohio grassroots groups, environmental and progressive organizations, national movement leaders and concerned citizens are calling for the largest mobilization against fracking in the country’s history to take place in Columbus from June 14-17. Details of the June mobilization against fracking can be viewed by clicking here.
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California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday that would ban the sale of new cars in California that run only on gasoline by the year 2035. The bid to reduce emissions and combat the climate crisis would make California the first state to ban the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines, according to POLITICO.
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A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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