Groups Call for Additional Records Related to Kasich Administration’s Plan to Promote Fracking
Troubled by recent revelations about an internal memo drafted in 2012 in which the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) outlined a plan to promote fracking in state parks, Food & Water Watch along with other groups sent a request today to Gov. John Kasich and the ODNR to release of additional records related to promoting the controversial method of oil and gas drilling.
“Given the Governor and the General Assembly’s track record of ignoring our concerns with specific pieces of legislation, and ODNR’s repeated public comments that mirror messaging points and strategy laid out in the recently released memo, we do not trust that there will be a thorough investigation by the state into collusion with the industry,” said Alison Auciello, Ohio organizer for Food & Water Watch.
“The specific naming of organizations and legislators as opposition groups raises questions about how seriously the ODNR and the administration are taking their duties to protect Ohio residents over the interests of the oil and gas industry.”
The communications plan identified state legislators and environmental organizations as “eco-left,” giving the impression that the ODNR is a PR firm for the oil and gas industry instead of a regulatory agency. While the administration initially denied knowledge of this document, an email later released by the Sierra Club confirmed Gov. Kasich’s involvement.
“Unfortunately, it seems that it's fallen upon the people of Ohio to ensure transparency and accountability of our state government and agencies," said Brian Kunkemoeller, conservation coordinator for the Sierra Club Ohio Chapter said.
"Ohioans must get to the bottom of the plans regarding the wholesale of our public lands, and coercive propaganda plans by state officials to do so.”
Teresa Mills of the Buckeye Forest Council has been reviewing inspection reports on fracking and fracking waste disposal wells for the last several years. She said, “Clearly, serious problems at wells are falling through the cracks. After the release of the memo, my question is now whether or not it’s intentional.”
The identification of oil and gas companies including Halliburton, and lobby groups such as the Ohio Oil and Gas Association as allies in the document, suggests a level of collaboration and coordination that is inconsistent with the role of ODNR to “ensure a balance between the wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit for all.”
“When the line between the regulators and the regulated becomes blurred, unnecessarily risking the health of Ohioans, we have a duty to correct the problem. Unfortunately, we don’t feel we can rely on the state to take this possible collusion seriously, so we’re working together to get the information out to the public,” said Vanessa Pesec, president of Network to Educate and Organize for Gas Accountability and Protection.
According to Food & Water Watch, questions remain as to how those groups were identified, whether the ODNR public relations team tracks the activities of these groups and what other public relations tactics are being used to sell Ohio residents on the benefits of fracking.
“Athens County Fracking Action Network has known ever since examining ODNR’s unsound permitting guidelines that ODNR and the Kasich government have no interest in meeting their ethical and legal obligations to protect our drinking water," said Athens resident and Athens County Fracking Action Network member Zella Nisley. "We believe that this public records request will further expose the incestuous relationship between the Kasich government and its master, the oil and gas industry.”
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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