What’s New


KEC Seeking Grant Proposals

The Kent Environmental Council has funding available for a limited number of grants from $500 to $1,000. We seek “Legacy for the Environment” proposals from persons or organizations with ideas for improving the environment in Portage County. We are excited to see what ideas you have. For a full list of criteria, click here for the RFP and Cover Sheet. Deadline for submission is November 30, 2015. For questions, please email us.

Variety of Speakers Featured at KEC’s Weekly Informal Breakfast Meetings

KEC’s weekly informal breakfast meetings in the last month have included speakers Rick Hawksley and John Gwinn from the city of Kent’s Sustainability Commission (for Kent’s sustainability goals, click here) and Bob Howard from the Portage County Combined Health District (to read about public health services “in English,” click here). Breakfast attendees learned about both organizations, including how they function and the limitations they face. Discussions ensued about how KEC and these related organizations could work together to improve outcomes for everyone.

New Research Data Released on Effects of Drilling for Oil, Gas

The following is a summarized version of a document released by Concerned Health Professionals of New York; summarized version submitted to KEC by Swanny Vonieda (December 2014) 

Compendium of Research of Scientific, Medical, and Media Finding Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking
(Unconventional Oil and Gas Extraction)

“A growing body of peer reviewed studies, accident reports, and investigative articles is now confirming specific, quantifiable evidence of harm and has revealed fundamental problems with the drilling and fracking industry. Industry studies as well as independent analysis indicate inherent engineering problems, including well casings and cement impairments, that cannot be prevented.”

Key points from the 70-page article:

  • Studies up to June 2014 have found that air pollution, including high levels of ozone and benzene, and declines in air quality have led to health problems, birth defects and low birth rates in the areas of fracking.
  • Ground water pollution is most commonly found within a mile of drilling operations. Oil and gas wells have been shown to leak into the ground water and air. In an article published in an industry magazine in 2003, Schlumberger, a company that is active in the industry, stated that 5% of wells leak immediately, 50% after 15 years and 60% after 60 years. Pennsylvania data showed that in 2011, 7.1% of new wells leaked and in 2012, 8.9% of wells leaked. Leaks are due to cement and well-casing impairment for which industry has no solution. In addition, undocumented, abandoned wells provide a pathway for air and water pollution to migrate into the area and into water wells. Radiation in fracking waste and cuttings were reported as exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s limit by as much as 3,600 times.
  • Noise and light pollution may be continuous for many months from blasting, drilling, flaring, truck traffic, generators and compressor stations.
  • Property values drop, and mortgages have been jeopardized as a result of fracking operations.
  • Other health effects from the industry include nose bleeds, vision problems, nausea, rashes and blood pressure problems.

“Concerned Health Professionals of New York is an initiative by health professionals, scientists and medical organizations for raising science-based concerns about the impacts of fracking on public health and Safety. CHPNY provides educational resources and works to ensure that careful consideration of the science and health impacts are at the forefront of the fracking debate.”

To read the full report, click here.

Remembrances of Caroline Arnold

Click here to read a few of the many remembrances of the life of Caroline Arnold, given at her memorial service on October 26, 2014.

Memorial Service for KEC’s Caroline Arnold Set for October 26 at 2 p.m. at Kent Roosevelt High School Auditorium

To view the announcement, click here.

Educational Display on Endangered and Extinct Species Comes to Ohio History Connection through Jan. 4, 2015

The educational display “Going, Going, Gone? Endangered and Extinct Species” is available for viewing at the Ohio History Connection in Columbus. The display highlights some of the many species that have lived in Ohio but are no longer found here. Also included are threatened and endangered species from around the United States. The exhibit, which can be viewed during normal museum hours should provide some great context for a discussion on the possibility of a current, ongoing sixth mass extinction. The exhibit closes January 4, 2015.

Video from KEC Spring Forum on Injection Wells Is Now Available

To view the video, click here.

Global Warming Charts That May Shock You

The Obama administration’s comprehensive National Climate Assessment, released May 6, is packed with data on how much global warming we’ve already suffered and how much worse it could get.

For many, the prospect of shorter winters and longer summers just isn’t disturbing enough:

Click Here to See the 10 Charts That Will Shock Anyone into Taking Action on Global Warming

How 11,000 Oil and Gas Wells Gave Utah Community More Ozone Pollution Than Los Angeles

To find out, click here.

KEC Spring Forum on April 28 to Focus on Injection Wells with Teresa Mills from the Center for Health, Education and Justice

Injection wills will be the topic of the Kent Enfironmental Council’s Spring Forum April 28 athe Kent Presbyterian Church, 1456 E. Summit St., Kent, starking at 7 p.m. The forum’s speaker, Teresa Mills, a member of the staff for the Center for Health, Education and Justice, will speak about injection wells. The Center for Health, Education and Justice (CHEJ) was started by Lois Gibbs (founder and director of CHEJ). CHEJ now assists groups nationwide in dealing with chemical spills and pollution situations. Her talk will cover topics such as how injection wells are constructed, how long they may be expected to last, how they are tested, the requirements they are supposed to meet, who inspects them and how well are they regulated.  She will also tell why she and CHEJ petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to remove the Ohio Department of Natural Resources from being the agency primarily responsible for regulating injection wells. After her presentation, she will take questions from the audience.

Dr. Peter J. Schubert to Speak about Renewable Energy Options at KEC Annual Meeting on Feb. 10

solarpanelsDr. Peter J. Schubert, director of the Richard G. Lugar Center for Renewable Energy and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, will be the featured speaker at the Kent Environmental Council’s annual meeting February 10. The meeting will be held at the Kent Presbyterian Church, 1456 East Summit Street with the program beginning at 7 p.m.

All are invited to hear Schubert talk about “Renewable Energy Options at All Scales.” Schubert will focus on providing alternatives and moving the debate into the realm of economic externalities. He has been developing technology solutions and pursuing advocacy and outreach strategies towards this end. He will present several parallel pathways toward a more sustainable future for Northeast Ohio and beyond. Schubert is a graduate of Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent, Ohio, and continues to take personal interest in his hometown.

The annual business meeting, for members and prospective members, begins at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for the membership meeting and at 6:30 p.m. for all. Light refreshments will be provided. There is no charge for admission to the public presentation. Annual membership dues should be paid at the business meeting.

Video of Injection Well Rally in Warren with Bill McKibben Now Available

To view the video, click here.

Draft Climate Assessment Report Released for Public Review and Comment

On January 14, the federal government’s National Climate Assessment Development Advisory Committee a “Draft Climate Assessment Report,” updating the previous 2009 report. The summary page has a link to the full draft report, which is 147 Mb and 1,146 pages long. The full report is available for downloading in its entirety; alternatively, chapters of the report can be downloaded individually. The report also contains a link for public comment and is available until April 14.

A Tour of the Tom S. Cooperrider Kent Bog State Nature Preserve Video

To view the video, click here.

Environmental Need-to-Know List: KEC Members’ Recommendations for Environmental Readings

From George Sosebe

Book: The Third Industrial Revolution
Author: Jeremy Rifkin

Rifkin’s recently published book discusses what is going on now in “the Green Revolution.” It also points out what is coming in the future as we face the end of fossil fuels and the scary future surrounding climate change. Anyone concerned about the future of earth’s environment should read this book.

From Gwen Fischer

With gas drilling companies asking Portage County commissioners to lease county property for extraction of natural gas using fracking techniques, Concerned Citizens Ohio, a local Portage County organization, prepared a statement of concern regarding the environmental impact on the county’s resources for presentation to the elected officials. To read that statement, click here.

To learn what Portage County residents can do, click here.

From Edith Chase and Caroline Arnold

Regarding the current status of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant, Port Clinton, Ohio:

First, a little background information from Edith Chase, which she refers to as “A History of Trouble”:

In 2002, Davis-Besse’s reactor head came close to failure when the reactor was shut down to replace spent fuel, and a pineapple-sized hole was found. It was estimated to have been about two months before disaster, after workers had ignored visible signs of corrosion for several years.

The reactor head was then replaced with an unused head, but a more recent breakdown of reactor nozzles made it necessary to replace the replacement. After Davis-Besse was shut down on October 1, 2011, for this repair, a 30-foot-long hairline crack was found in the concrete outer structure of the reactor.

FirstEnergy, owner of the plant, is evaluating this latest trouble to determine the cause and extent of the crack. The company had already submitted an application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend the plant’s operating license for another 20 years to 2037.

For more information, See the Toledo Blade article, “Activists seek city opposition to renewing license for Davis-Besse” by David Patch, Blade staff writer.

From Swanny Voneida

Magazine:  Sierra Club Magazine, November/December 2011
1. “Old MacDonald’s Carbon Footprint”
2. “But, What Fish Can I Eat?”
By Nate Seltenrich

1. The carbon footprint of meats, cheese and eggs

2. Mercury from fish and the high danger of human damage to the nervous system, especially fetuses and young children, caused by coal-powered energy plants.

From Ann Ward

Book:  The End of Country
Author:  Seamas McGraw

This book is now available at the Kent Free Library. The book is an excellent account of the experiences of an independent journalist’s family—and those of their neighbors—with hydraulic fracturing in central Pennsylvania. The author describes in engaging detail the entire process from being approached by land men representing energy companies to signing leases; from the actual construction on drill sites to the process of being fracked; and from the frustration with the state’s lack of enforcement to the economic pressure to sign deals.

Update on Fracking in Ohio

by Ted Voneida, KEC Energy Focus Group Facilitator

On April 6, 2011, I testified against fracking in our state parks at the State House in Columbus before the Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Click here to read my complete testimony.

Of the 37 people who testified, 36 were against the legislation, and one person was for it. That one person was the director of the Ohio Division of Natural Resources. Majority rules, so the bill was passed by our legislature, and now those of us who can’t afford a long weekend at Hilton Head with our families can enjoy the hundreds of trucks filled with brine, the clear cutting of state forest trees for roads, and the joy of watching a highly destructive drilling process right in our own state parks.

I found the National Resources Defense Council article, reprinted below, to be very informative:

10 Reasons Why You Need to Be Concerned

1. Declining Property Values
Most banks and insurance companies consider gas leased properties to be an unacceptable risk. Many loan companies have policies which deny mortgages on those properties which have been leased. Insurance companies are balking at writing policies for leased parcels, as landowners can be liable for accidents related to natural gas drilling. Drilling will eventually depreciate the value of not only your residence, but of investment parcels as well. If you are considering selling your property, you must ask, “Will I be able to find a buyer who is willing and able to pay cash?”

2. Toxic Chemicals
Gas companies say that frack fluid is 99% water but that equates to 7,500 gallons of chemicals used for every well drilled. According to experts, 93% of these chemicals have adverse health effects, 60% are known carcinogens and more than 40% are endocrine disruptors.

3. You Can’t Drink Gas
The greatest and most widespread harm seen in gas drilling is toxic chemical pollution caused by spills. Any contamination of ground water and aquifers is a threat to public health, agriculture, and wildlife. After a recent spill in PA, the USDA quarantined cattle that drank contaminated water in an effort to protect the public from consuming potentially harmful products. But humans are not directly protected because the gas industry is exempted from the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Your drinking water is not protected.

4. Air Quality Concerns
Ground level ozone and noxious chemicals can have serious health consequences on people, animals and plants. For humans this includes asthma, stroke, cardiovascular disease and irritable bowel disorders. Methane, the principal component of natural gas, is as much as 25 times as potent as CO2. Experts say that during transport, 3-5% of the methane escapes from pipelines and compressors as fugitive emissions.

5. Health Effect from Other Pollutants
Studies have shown that what the industry calls annoyances—noise, light and dust pollution—can also have a negative impact on health. Brine from drilling can contain heavy metals and be highly radioactive, yet some communities are using this as a road deicer.

6. Increases in Traffic
The DEC estimates between 5850 and 8905 truck trips for each well pad. Increases in traffic lead to increases in traffic accidents. School bus accidents and chemical tanker spills have occurred in other communities as truck drivers try to negotiate rural roads at high speeds.

7. Gas Pads Not Limited to Countryside
Wells have been drilled near suburban homes, churches, schools, parks and even in city centers. Even the dead can’t rest in peace as cemeteries are not off limits to drilling activity.

8. Security and Social Costs
Drilling-driven temporary population booms increase demand on police, fire and EMS, and social services, all paid for by local tax payers. Studies have shown that as gas drilling increases in an area, so too does the crime rate.

9. Economics
Gas production is slated for much of New York’s food producing regions. Yet, agricultural production, tourism and recreation contribute more income to the state economy than the proposed income from gas drilling.

10. Environmental Issues
Gas activities draw heavily on fresh water reserves. Reduced oxygen levels, high levels of dissolved solids and pollutants negatively affect aquatic life, including fish.  Many species of birds and wildlife are negatively impacted by forest fragmentation, while others may benefit (coyote). Unfortunately this creates an imbalance in the ecosystem. While some species may be lost as an unintended cost of drilling, other species may arrive. Access roads and pipelines provide openings for invasive species infestation.