Legislators Seek Hearings on Political Targeting by Gov. Kasich, ODNR and Fracking Industry
State Representatives Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) today called on the Ohio Speaker of the House to hold legislative hearings to determine whether Gov. Kasich and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) are promoting the interests of the oil and gas industry rather than protecting the public interest.
Just days ago, a memo was uncovered that detailed how the ODNR and Gov. Kasich would stifle and discredit groups and elected officials concerned about fracking by teaming up with “allied” corporations to promote this controversial drilling technique in state parks. The document—obtained through an unrelated public records request—targets Democratic legislators and environmental watch groups as part of a strategy to marginalize public concern and advance oil and gas interests. Reps. Antonio and Hagan were included by name on a list of “opposition groups;” while “allied groups” included the Governor’s office, JobsOhio, and big oil and gas companies such as Halliburton.
“Clearly we need answers to find out if the public trust has been compromised on behalf of big gas and oil," Rep. Nickie Antonio said. "I take my responsibility to be a steward of Lake Erie and clean and safe parks very seriously. I am stunned to find that perhaps the fox is actually in the henhouse.”
The governor’s office at first denied knowledge of the communication strategy, but has since admitted involvement when additional e-mail records revealed that the governor’s top aides were involved with drafting the plan.
“The Governor is quick to jump in bed with Halliburton and the oil and gas companies, with no apparent regard for the legitimate concerns of Ohio citizens,” said Rep. Hagan. “This document raises a lot of questions regarding taxpayer resources being used to play politics, and taxpayers deserve answers.”
Here is the letter from Reps. Antonio and Hagan calling for legislative hearings:
February 18, 2014
The Honorable William Batchelder, Speaker
Riffe Center, 14th Floor
77 South High St.
Columbus, OH 43215
Dear Speaker Batchelder:
We write today to respectfully request legislative hearings on a matter recently brought to our attention by the Sierra Club. A document titled, “Oil & Gas State Lands Leasing: Draft Outline for Communication Plan (8/20/12)” was uncovered through a public records request. In the document, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Governor’s office, and the oil and gas industry outlined initiatives and goals as part of a communications strategy to open specific state parks to horizontal drilling for oil and gas. We were shocked to learn that these governmental agencies were involved in a PR campaign to further this initiative where the key objective was to “marginalize the effectiveness of communications by adversaries about the initiative." Stakeholders included regulatory agencies and private sector businesses. Opposition groups were listed including the two undersigned legislators. We are concerned and troubled to find our names appear on this list in such a way.
This document brings into question if government agencies, tasked to regulate and ensure public safety have worked collaboratively with the oil and gas industry to further their agenda. In order to ensure transparency and preserve the public trust, it is imperative to hold hearings to discover if and why government agencies would join forces with private-sector, fracking-interested companies and whether a plan was implemented to silence critics of those who have legitimate concerns over the environmental impact of horizontal drilling on our state lands and if such a plan has been operationalized.
Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to your immediate response.
Nickie J. Antonio Robert F. Hagan
House District 13
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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