New PA Study Reports Genital and Urinary Tract Impacts of Fracking

According to a report carried in the March issue of Public Health as reported on the truthout.org website, a recent study has indicated that Pennsylvanians in shale fracking regions are at greater risk for skin, genital, and urinary diseases. (https://truthout.org/articles/fracking-linked-to-increased-hospitalizations-for-genital-and-urinary-issues/)

As Truth Out reports, “Researchers found that the more fracking wells were in a county, the more hospitalizations the county saw for genital and urinary problems like urinary tract infections, kidney infections, and kidney stones.” 

This would not include all cases of such impacts, since only the most acute cases involve hospitalization.  It is likely that many more cases exist bit with milder symptoms.

The study concluded that there is a clearer link between genital and urinary issues and fracking as compared to skin-related issues.

The study also reported that as exposures to fracking in counties continued over time, there were increasing rates of hospitalizations for kidney infections, kidney stones, and urinary tract infections.  The effect seems to impact adult women more than children and the elderly.

Other studies have linked fracking to increased cardiovascular problems and respiratory problems like asthma.

Elaine Hill, assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Rochester and co-author of the study, said that more research is needed.  She added, “it’s important for people who live in these communities to make themselves aware and make their physicians aware that they live near drilling operations so the healthcare system can respond if there is widespread risk.”

Pushing Back the Push-Back

It didn’t take very long for the climate science deniers and the fossil fuel industry to start lying about the Green New Deal to try to scare folks from even considering it.  From them we heard ridiculous assertions that “they are going to take your cars away,” and “traveling on airplanes will be banned.”  

I would certainly urge anyone who has doubts about the Green New Deal to actually read the Green New Deal Resolution that is sponsored by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the House and Senator Ed Markey in the Senate.  You can find it here: https://newconsensus.com/green-new-deal/

Here is a thought worth considering:

“We know scientifically that a plan of the scope and scale of the Green New Deal is the only thing that will stave off irreversible climate catastrophe and, with it, tremendous economic loss. Thus, we must ask not only what the Green New Deal will cost, but also what costs it averts — especially in light of the growth and prosperity it will create.” -newconsensus.com

Newconsensus.com also sets forth the five main goals of the Green New Deal.  They don’t seem radical to me.  They just sound like common sense—common sense that is long overdue:

The Green New Deal has five main goals:

1.     Achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers.

2.     Create millions of good, high wage jobs; and ensure prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States. 

3.     Invest in the infrastructure and industry of the United States to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century.

4.     Secure clean air and water, climate and community resilience, healthy food, access to nature, and a sustainable environment for all.

5.     Promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of frontline and vulnerable communities.

Really, aren’t these things just what we want for ourselves and for our children and grandchildren?  Don’t these goals represent the kind of healthy, just, and fair world that we all want to see?

Talk to folks you know about the Green New Deal.  Get the truth out!  Get the good news out!  We can do this!

Come to March 23 Summit and Help Build Solidarity!

by Ron Prosek

Yes, we activists often feel that our victories are few and far between.  Big Oil and Gas are swimming in money and political power.   What have we got on our side?

First, we have the power of being right on our side.  This isn’t being self-righteous.  It just means that we are on the side – in the Movement—that is looking out for the greater, long-range welfare of the people.  We want to protect people’s health and safety, the integrity of their communities, and the natural environment on which these communities depend.

Big Oil and Gas will say they serve the people by bringing them cheap fuel.  But, as we know, for them, the real bottom line is the Bottom Line—maximize profits no matter what costs and harms they have to shift on to the public.

Second, given the reasoning above, I am convinced we have the people on our side—at least once they know and understand the whole picture—how their lives and the lives of their children will be affected by shale drilling, frack waste injection wells, ethane cracker plants, petrochemical plants, pipelines, compressor stations, and hamstringing green energy enterprises in Ohio like wind and solar.

How to make it work for our side?  A good new beginning is to come together in New Philadelphia on March 23 for the Statewide Summit.  The theme this year is “Building on Our Victories and Planning for More.”   The idea is to come together, share the stories of our victories—even the little ones—and then reinvigorate our networks across the state and strategize for new and BIGGER victories.  Creating a new level of SOLIDARITY in this way can really help us raise our game to a new level and clear the way for some new and bigger victories.

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For details on the Summit, return to the Home page & scroll down a bit.

To register for the Summit, click here: REGISTRATION

 

Confronting Ohio Challenges

by Ron Prosek

As FaCT and OHR volunteer visit various communities in Ohio, too often we hear that citizens do not want to “get involved.”  We’re talking about communities, in some cases, that have been virtually occupied by the shale industry.  We’re also talking about communities that have just been recently confronted with shale development challenges.  Why does this attitude seem so widespread?

The people in these communities have put forth various reasons.  Some say it’s no use to go against the big money involved.  Some point to the fact that state government never seems to act to defend the people and their communities.  Some say it’s just easier to pick up and move on and move out if you can afford to do that.

I certainly can’t offer any easy comfort to these folks.  The industry does have a lot of money, and they often have governments in their pockets. And yes, if you see it coming at you soon enough, you might be able to pull up stakes and not lose too much financially.  However, you can only run so far.  You may find respite somewhere else for a while, but the shale industry keeps expanding its reach.  And if it’s not drill pads, it could be frack waste injection wells, compressor stations, cracker plants, or pipelines that will threaten your peace and safety.

So why not stand and fight?  As one fighter in a small Ohio community said with regard to the injection wells in his area, “I may lose this fight, but I’m not going down without a fight.”  Maybe if this fighting spirit spreads, maybe if the fighters stand together, just maybe we can win some of these battles.  And remember, resistance in one community can be the model and the inspiration for resistance in other communities.

More than ever, Ohio families and communities must adopt the fighting spirit and a spirit of solidarity with each other.  We can learn from each other.  We can encourage each other, and if we grow a statewide movement—perhaps even a regional movement—we can win.

Examining Our Environmental Consciences

by Marlene Pikus     

Time for us to slow down, take a deep breath, and start thinking about our little piece of the world that fits into the collective universe that we will be talking about at the upcoming Statewide Summit.  We have the best of intentions to leave the earth in good condition for generations to come.  What surprises me is that the little, daily efforts of my consciousness to save the planet will be laughed at or ridiculed as a waste of time by people that are hurrying through life with the most convenient way to do things even though their way involves more waste, especially from single-use plastic.

I do the obvious things like composting and recycling everything I can at the appropriate collection sites, including metals and aluminum for cash, but I do go further.  Instead of taking the clean plastic bags to the grocery store to recycle in their collection bins, I reuse them with my reusable shopping bags to put the meats or chicken into and continue to reuse them for future groceries or for household trash until their "demise" and then dispose of them in an appropriate manner which includes tying them into knots before disposing of them into the trash.  The same procedure is used for the small plastic bags used for produce.  I take those back to the store and reuse them over and over again.  It only makes sense to reuse them and the "twisties.”  Glass jars and bottles are other items that can be used for food, beverage, or whatever else is needed to be stored around the house without purchasing more plastic for the same purpose. Washing and rinsing out plastic containers with lids from cottage cheese or even take-out-food and reusing them for food storage instead of purchasing more plastic just makes good sense in reducing further plastic production. Did I mention that plastic is produced from oil?

Maybe it is my age that is showing because I grew up in financially hard times and we were not surrounded by plastic.  My parents grew up in the depression and taught me how to be creative in my thinking with how to "make do" with less.  My father was a mechanical engineer and held patents for inventions, so he knew how to think through to a solution for a problem.  My mother was a high-school graduate, which was quite the accomplishment in her day when women were not valued in the labor market— until World War II when she became a factory-worker in the war-effort.

My mother taught me how to sew, "patch" and reuse and recycle my clothes into fabric for future projects.  She and my father taught me to never waste anything. One of my favorite recycled items are old socks.  I cut them into a rope-like material from one end to the other and use the cord for wherever needed.  I use it in the garden to tie up the plants and I even crocheted a rug using a very large crochet hook.  It is amazing what one can do with old stuff instead of sending it to a landfill. I feel a sense of accomplishment from my endeavors, as silly as it may sound to others.

Another way for us to move toward a better future is to pay attention to the products you usually buy and the containers or wrappings on the products.  If there is plastic where there could be a cardboard or paper wrapping, call the question and comment number on the package and make a point of mentioning that you would like to see earth-friendly materials and that the corporations have a responsibility toward the earth and its future.  One product that is showing up everywhere in large quantities are old toothbrushes.  We need to push for a better product design that will lessen the impact of the discarded toothbrushes.  Perhaps a disposable "head" that detaches from the handle.  Let's get thinking on our everyday lives and the little things that could make a difference.

I find it challenging and also gratifying to see how I can reduce “my footprint” on the earth.  An important point I would like to add before I leave you to your creative thinking and projects, is that we need to stop producing “needless plastic.” People buy plastic bags and storage containers weekly without a second thought to “What am I doing?” especially when just tossing them into the trash after a single use.  These become bad habits but thought of as “time-savers”?  What is that about?  We see the pictures of the “ocean-waste-islands” and the efforts to now clean them up when the production of those items has not stopped.  Is it insane to think that we can fix a problem when we keep producing the same items?  Time to examine what we do in our daily lives that we can do differently to actually make a difference as small as it may seem but definitely in a positive direction.  Hope to see you at the Summit on March 23 in New Philadelphia!  [See article on Homepage]

Law Enforcement Enlisted Against Line 3 Opponents

According to a report by The Intercept, there is apparently some effort to assemble a combination of private security and public law enforcement resources to disrupt potential protests against the Line 3 Pipeline in Minnesota, a project of the Canada-based Enbridge energy company.  If constructed, Line 3 would pass through the territories of several Ojibwe bands in the northern part of the state.

Documents obtained via a FOI request reveal that law enforcement is anxious about the prospect of protests against Line 3, fearing a repeat of the resistance at Standing Rock in North Dakota.  Does this presage a repeat of the use of water cannons, rubber bullets, armored personnel carriers, sound cannons, and attack dogs against peaceful and unarmed protesters?

For those concerned about First Amendment rights, as all of us should be, this looming threat of a public-private partnership on behalf of a private corporation is certainly alarming.

To read the original article in The Intercept, go to: https://theintercept.com/2019/01/30/enbridge-line-3-pipeline-minnesota/

Lake Erie May Obtain Rights of Nature Protection

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According to a report in the Plain Dealer on January 30, voters in Toledo will be voting on February 26 for a Lake Erie Bill of Rights.

The concept underlying the ballot proposal is that not only natural persons have rights but also nature itself has rights.   The concept has already been adopted into law in places like Australia for the Great Barrier Reef.  If passed by Toledo voters, this would be the first Rights of Nature Law in the United States.

The proposed Bill of Rights “establishes irrevocable rights for the Lake Erie Ecosystem to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve.”  This would elevate the rights of the community and its natural environment over powers claimed by certain corporations, such as industrial-scale agribusinesses that cause huge amounts of phosphorus to pollute Lake Erie.

The impetus for this ballot issue are the harms that the western basin of Lake Erie has suffered from phosphorus pollution that fostered the growth of a massive algal bloom a few years ago, causing Toledoans the temporary loss of their water supply from the Lake until the algal bloom cleared off.

If adopted by voters, advocates hope to use the Lake Erie Bill of Rights as a legal tool to help enforce protection of the Lake and its ecosystem.  Obviously, this would also protect the health and safety of those who depend on safe water from Lake Erie.

Several communities in Ohio have adopted similar legislation to protect themselves from Big Oil and Gas corporations that have threatened natural ecosystems on land, notably in connection with shale development.  The success of this strategy is yet to be determined.  It will be interesting to see how this strategy will work out in litigation.