Like many Wayne County residents, I frequently travel along U.S. Route 30, the scenic highway that stretches east-west across Ohio, from near Van Wert to around East Liverpool. The drive offers stunning views of rolling fields, content cows and a vast sky. Unfortunately, the Rover Pipeline that will pass through Wayne County has prompted the construction of an ugly addition to the landscape—a pipeline compressor station just west of Wooster. To the naked eye, these stations may appear relatively harmless, but it’s what can’t be seen that causes concern. When viewed through an infrared camera, these stations visibly spill plumes of gases into the air.
Using electromagnetic technology to view the invisible emissions of a pipeline compressor station is just one of many eye-opening experiences I had at the Ohio Sierra Club retreat last weekend, which celebrated the club’s 50th anniversary. It was an honor to attend the retreat and meet the people, many of whom are volunteers, who fight to make sure our air and water are clean and safe. They are the watchdogs for our environment. The Ohio Sierra Club’s Herculean effort to spread information is made even more admirable when you consider the uninformed and disdainful tone of President Trump’s administration toward environmental issues.
For instance, in a recent interview with British television host Piers Morgan on ITV Weekend News, President Trump continued to discredit global warming by stating that polar ice caps have hit "a record level." In a fantastic display of ignorance, Trump said, “The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records. They’re at a record level."
Although it is true that the ice caps are at a record level, the nature of that record level is the exact opposite of what Trump would have you believe. Contrary to Trump’s congratulatory tone, a NASA report last year revealed that the sea ice extent on both poles had reached the lowest levels since NASA began recording data in 1979. (http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/371129-trump-polar-ice-caps-are-at-a-record-level)
Trump may be willing to ignore the science that is staring us all in the face, but the Ohio Sierra Club is not. And neither am I. At the retreat, I listened to experts discuss some of the most pressing environmental issues facing those living right here in Wayne County.
Take HB 393. This bill would allow fracking and drilling companies to sell fracking brine to municipalities and companies to use to de-ice roadways.
This is important because, according to a 2014 U.S. Geological Survey study, roadside sediment where produced brine had been spread as a de-icer had elevated levels of radium, strontium, calcium and sodium.
The study continued, “Radium is radioactive and can thus be carcinogenic. At high concentrations, sodium can be unhealthy for humans and animals. In plants, high sodium levels disrupt nutrient intake, leading to death. Ohio does not require gas and oil well tests for every application before the raw brine is used as a de-icer. State law does limit where, when and how much produced brine can be spread on roads but leaves it up to local authorities to approve individual applications.” (www.scientificamerican.com)
Organic farmers: pay close attention to this bill! If your farmland falls within a short distance of a road treated with this de-icing agent, you could lose your organic certification.
In addition to organic farmers, HB 393 could have serious implications for the health of our family members and the environment as a whole. The cumulative effects of this fracking brine have yet to be determined, in part because the brine used is a trade secret and doesn’t have to be made public, making testing for these effects difficult.
Imagine a few years from now your child or loved ones falling sick, and when you bring them to the doctor, he or she has no idea how to treat your loved one because testing hasn’t been thoroughly researched. The same concerns apply to our dairy farmers regarding their milking herd, and our corn and soybean farmers with their crops.
My experience at the Ohio Sierra Club retreat highlighted the idea that, “What we don’t know, eventually might just kill us.”
As a candidate for Statehouse Representative for Wayne County, I have already pledged not to take campaign donations or PAC money from utilities, pipeline and/or fracking companies. This might put me at a disadvantage in raising money against my opponent, but I challenge him to make the same commitment.
I stand for clean air, clean water, the economic health of our small and organic farmers, and the health of our entire community. If elected, I will fight for these principles. I hope you will stand with me as well.