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Kent Environmental Council
In This Issue
Dr. Peter J. Schubert to Speak about Renewable Energy Options at KEC Annual Meeting on Feb. 10
Dr. Peter J. Schubert: Director of Lugar Center for Renewable Energy
Active Living: Bike Riding Makes Us Happier
Nov. 2013 Symposium Targets Human Impact on Water
KEC Member Offers Print, Web Resources
The Environment in the News
Save the Date: April 4 Portage County Environmental Awards Dinner at American Legion Hall
Thank You to Our Members for 2013
KEC Membership
Quick Links

Featured Article


Dr. Peter J. Schubert to Speak about Renewable Energy Options at KEC Annual Meeting on Feb. 10
Welcome to the February 2014 issue of the Kent Environmental Council newsletter.  

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

Solar Panels Dr. 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.


--Chris Mallin


Dr. Peter J. Schubert: Director of Lugar Center for Renewable Energy 

Dr. Peter J. Schubert

As the Richard G. Lugar Center for Renewable Energy for Renewable Energy continues to confront America's urgent need for clean, affordable and renewable energy sources to improve the nation's energy security, the center appointed Dr. Peter J. Schubert its new director to lead this charge in 2011.


Effective September 13 of that year, Schubert brought with him more than 25 years of industry experience and energy-related research, with sponsors such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense and NASA, to the Lugar Center as it addresses pressing energy issues facing Americans in an increasingly volatile world. Schubert holds 35 U.S. patents and is the author of more than 75 technical publications. 


"The question we all need to be asking is, 'What can we do right now to pave the way for a future of energy independence, good climate stewardship and continued economic growth?'" said Schubert. "A truly sustainable portfolio of renewable energy technologies requires a wide range of integrated systems. There is no single solution."


Fuel cells, renewable hydrogen, bio-fuel production and application, advanced battery storage and safety, plug-in and hybrid electric vehicles, and solar energy are among the topics researchers at the Lugar Center are investigating. 


The Lugar Center was established to address the urgent societal needs for clean, affordable and renewable energy sources, improve the nation's energy security and reduce the negative impacts of climate change. Its primary mission is to promote research excellence in the area of renewable energy through collaborative efforts among faculty in the disciplines of engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, public policy and environmental affairs. It promotes renewable energy applications through teaching, learning, civic engagement and synergistic partnerships with industry, government labs and local communities. 


 --Jeff Ingram  

Active Living: Bike Riding Makes
Us Happier

Given the excitement surrounding the development and expansion of the biking trails in and around the city of Kent, it was no surprise that recent research has found that biking not only has environmental benefits (no air, water or noise pollution), but it also is good for the psyche. Findings recently presented to the National Transportation Research Board and summarized in Outside (January, 2014) magazine showed that riding a bike makes us happy. 


In a survey of more than 800 commuters, bicycle riders scored significantly higher on a well-being measure than persons using any other form of transportation, including walking. Evidence suggests that a new kind of "cycling lifestyle" is burgeoning. In large and small cities in this country and abroad, there has been a significant increase in the number of bike lanes being built, bike-share programs being created, and persons who never would have considered biking around town are now saddling up to get exercise and save money on gasoline. 


The benefits are not confined to more happy bikers. Benefits also include less automobile traffic, cleaner air, better public health and surging commerce along biking routes. In total, better communities. Bike Cleveland is a good example. On January 19, organization members gathered to celebrate their accomplishments in 2013, including the first bike-safety public awareness campaign Ride Together, the National Bike Challenge, bike fix-a-thons, and bike and light giveaways. In 2014 the focus will be on safer streets.


 --Wayne Munson

Nov. 2013 Symposium Targets Human Impact on Water

Peter H. Gleick
Peter H. Gleick

Peter H. Gleick, PHC, president of Pacific Institute, was the featured keynote speaker at the first Annual Water Research Symposium at Kent State University on November 14 and 15 at the KSU Hotel and Conference Center. His talk focused on the past of water in the world and the transition under way toward a sustainable water future.


Gleick noted that people often think that the world used to be simpler and that life was easier, but this, he said, is wishful thinking. There have been many "golden ages" in the past, he said, but they don't last long and, in retrospect, maybe things were not so great and the nostalgia is misplaced. The good days are ahead of us, Gleick predicted.


water splash Gleick then described three "ages of water." The first age of water went from prehistoric time until the Renaissance, the end of 14th and 15th centuries. People took water and dumped it after they used it. This age began to end when civilization and populations began to grow and people outgrew local water resources.


The second age of water began with the black death, the growth of natural philosophy and the scientific revolution--looking to empirical evidence, hypotheses and testing by the likes of Copernicus, Galileo and others. This eventually led to advances in engineering. 


In a poem, Samuel Taylor Coleridge described the Rhine River as a cesspool. In the 1840s and 1850s, London's government adjourned for the summer because the Thames River smelled like a sewer. Uncontrolled water in the 1800s caused diseases such as typhoid, dysentery and cholera that spread in the United States and all over the world. In 1850, John Snow mapped a cholera outbreak in London and traced it to one well--he removed the handle from the well, and the outbreak subsided. He was the first to confirm that the disease was caused by water and was not airborne.


In the early 1800s, Philadelphia was the first major city in the world to provide citywide water for sanitation and industry and build purification facilities to do so. Dams were built to capture water. People began to treat sewage and make changes in the legal structure. 


In the 1960s, the discharges of pollution into Lake Erie were so high that the resulting anoxic area due to decay of algae was so large that people called it a "dead lake." The Cuyahoga River's surface was covered by a brown film. Slicks held trash and industrial discharge. Sludge covered the bottom of the lake, and the water on was grey brown to rusty brown. In June 1969, the lake caught fire. This event was heavily publicized and, along with a big oil spill near Santa Barbara, California, federal rules were changed with the passage of a series of environmental laws that protect the water supply to this day, including the Clean Water Act of 1972.


Enter the 21st century and the third age of water, where water is a most critical issue. In spite of improvements made so far, different challenges present themselves: 

  • Locally, the Cuyahoga River is a success story, and Lake Erie is cleaner; however, Lake Erie is deteriorating again, and many water issues are not addressed worldwide. 
  • Populations are still growing, and leaders have failed to provide adequate water and sanitation to all. An estimated 7 million to 8 million people worldwide have no access to safe water, thousands do not have adequate sewage control, and an estimated 1 million to 2 million people (many of them infants) die annually because of water-borne diseases.
  • The United Nations' 2015 Millennium Goals for water and sanitation for all people worldwide will not be met.   
  • Food production requires clean water. New challenges confront the industry: Food producers irrigate new land every year, but the effort does not keep up with population growth. Also, 30 percent of all food production worldwide is irrigated from aquifers that are nonrenewable. Worldwide, 80 percent of water goes to food production.  Ecosystems are suffering (e.g., the Everglades, the Nile and the Aural Sea are stressed). People also are changing the climate, which will be felt globally in changes of rain flow, more extreme floods and droughts, and other natural disasters.
  • Leaders have no choice but to plan for mitigation. Hurricane Sandy took out dozens of sewage treatment plants and cost much to repair. 
  • Competition for water leads to tension. For an historical view of conflicts over water from 3000 B.C. to today, click here.


Today the world is in transition to the third age of water, which must be a truly sustainable water supply. More needs to be done now than was done in the second age of water. The development of big systems led by engineers to trap, deliver and treat water will not solve the problem, which Gleick calls the "hard path for water." 


Leaders need to develop an achievable image of where they want to go--a "soft path for water"--that will complement the hard infrastructure by improving productivity and developing decentralized facilities, efficient technologies, innovative ideas, and new policies, and by investing in human capital. The effort will require institutional changes and new management tools and skills. It will be necessary to rely on the actions by many individual users and integrate all specialists: engineers, biologists, geologists, politicians, farmers, environmentalists, water users and all other stakeholders. 


In 2010, U.N. international law declared that there is a basic human need for water and sanitation for 100 percent of the world's population. To achieve this goal, water must be equitably priced. An equitable price requires much collaboration, quality monitoring and consideration of ecosystems. Officials need to hold groundwater pumping to sustainable limits. Meeting basic human water needs worldwide does not require new technology or a lot of money. Gleick estimates it would cost $50 billion a year worldwide and, while this may seem like a large amount, consider that the 2013 government shutdown cost the United States $250 billion. Many groups are working on this water effort, but not fast enough, Gleick noted, adding that the United States is not leading enough. 


To reach the U.N. water goal, here is what needs to be done:


  • Mitigate wrongs done, and restore basic flows and stream quality. When Nelson Mandela came into power in South Africa, the country's new constitution had basic water rights for humans and ecosystems specified. It was a first in the world. Progress has been made, but much more needs to be done. People have been designing and building as if failure of the climate will be like the past-and this is not true, Gleick said. We are not yet prepared to manage water. It is a question of risk, said Gleick, adding that countries need to buy "climate insurance."
  • Think of supply and demand differently. The goal is goods and services, and it takes water to produce them. People are very wasteful and need to implement demand management techniques to use less water to produce goods and services and become more efficient. People use less water for everything than they did 30 years ago because of improving efficiency. For example, it used to take 200 tons of water to make 1 ton of steel. When the Clean Water Act was passed, it was down to 20 tons of water to make 1 ton of steel. Now it is only 3 to 4 tons of water for 1 ton of steel. The cheapest way to deal with waste water is to reduce the amount one uses. With the supply of water available, what can people afford to produce and still meet everyone's needs?
  • Accept that there are limits on supply.  There is no more unallocated water in many parts of the world. The Colorado River area uses 100 percent of the water. The Aural Sea and the Yellow River are two other areas where this is true. There are parts of the world that need Stage 2 sites such as dams and sanitation facilities, but they need to build in a different way. People need to focus on conjunctive use of ground and surface water (i.e., spreading excess surface water to recharge ground water to keep it from drying up). People need to see treated waste water as an asset and reuse it for purposes such as landscaping, power plant cooling and replace ground water. Desalination plants are expensive and use energy, but they should be used where practical.
  • Protect the quality of tap water. There are things that people can do to increase available tap water, such as not flushing toilets with good water.
  • Use smart economics and the smart pricing of water. The underpricing of water leads to poor economic decisions.
  • Improve economic institutions. Worldwide, a complicated set of institutions around water prevails. Utilities and engineers need to think about demand and not just supply. For example, how do you get 100,000 people to replace washing machines and toilets with more energy efficient models? 
  • Farmers and environmentalists need to cooperate to cut the use of pesticides. In the end, doing so costs less and produces less pollution.
  • Energy and water need to be managed together. Fracking, energy, ethanol, food costs and energy issues are all intertwined. Power plant cooling pumps are the biggest single user in California (and in Ohio) when they are running.
  • Legislators need to update the Clean Air and Water Act, but efforts are too slow. 


Will the country and the world reach the third age of sustainable water usage? What leaders and individuals choose to do about water will determine the outcome. A new way of thinking about water is needed, Gleick concluded.


The second day of the conference dealt with researchers from KSU and throughout the United States reporting on their findings about topics as widespread as stream and watershed restoration, denitrification and other water chemistry issues, human impacts on watersheds, and alternatives to imperviousness. Space limits our ability to review all of these topics, but the results of this active research will tell what needs to change in the future. KSU has nearly 30 faculty members working on water issues in many departments, including environmental science and policy, urban hydrology, biogeochemistry, ecology and microbiology. 


--Lorraine McCarty

KEC Member Offers Print, Web Resources 

I recently had the opportunity to spend time in the exposition hall at this year's American Public Health Association meeting. Among other things, I sought out materials on healthy communities and related information and advocacy materials. One item I purchased was Designing Healthy Communities by Richard J. Jackson with Stacy Sinclair. It is published by Jossey-Bass and available from Amazon


The book examines the built environment and its impact on health (broadly defined). It provides examples of change in various communities that have addressed the health of the community via changes in the built environment. Finally, it provides a guide for determining the health of one's community, conducting an audit of one's built environment and creating an action plan.  ". . . [the book] is intended to help community members with understanding their current built environment and recognizing a range of possibilities for changing it" (from the Preface).


Additional resources that may be of interest to KEC members include the following:

Alliance for Biking and Walking
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center
The Open Streets Guide
Advocacy Advance

I hope you will find something to pique your interest.

--Iris Meltzer

 The Environment in the News

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to Receive $300 Million in Government Funds

Akron Beacon Journal - January 15, 2014


The negotiated spending agreement reached by the House and Senate marked a triumph for the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will receive $300 million, which falls into line with the various commitments begun five years ago and is what advocates realistically pursued. The total cost of the project approaches $25 billion and, so far, $1.3 billion has been secured. It is crucial to sustain the momentum. The initiative funds both large a small projects, such as removing steel slag and sediment, deterring invasive species, reviving habitats and curbing runoff.


Zipcars Coming to Kent State University

Akron Beacon Journal - January 14, 2014

Record-Courier - January 15, 2014


For The Kent State University main campus will have four Zipcars available to students, faculty and the community starting January 15.  Zipcars will be available for rental by students as young as 18 and faculty staff and community members over 21. While many students do not own cars, they have an occasional need for them. Zipcars can be more convenient and less time-consuming than public transportation, and the free bicycles at KSU are not always feasible in the winter or for longer or night trips. According to Melanie Knowles, KSU's sustainability manager, the cars provide "another piece of the [transportation] puzzle" . . . and if I can create opportunities so people don't feel they have to drive everywhere, it reduces emissions and is better for the environment." Since students under 21 and international students often cannot rent from regular rental car companies, this vehicle-sharing strategy is a feasible alternative. Also, one-car families occasionally need another car. Two Ford Focuses are available for $7.50 per hour and a Toyota Prius and Kia Soul for $8.50 per hour or $69 per day, including insurance. Zipcar members pay a yearly fee of $25 the first year and $35 thereafter. The cars can be accessed 24 hours a day through a smartphone application or the Internet to check car availability and make reservations. For details, click here 


Carbon Pollution Up, Ending Several Years of Decline

Record-Courier - January 14, 2014

Toledo Blade - January 15, 2014


Carbon pollution was up 2 percent in 2013, ending several years of decline, according to a government report. The increase in natural gas prices has led to an increase in coal consumption by the electric industry, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Even with the rise, overall U.S. carbon emissions remained 10 percent below 2005 levels but fall short of the 17 percent reduction goal President Barack Obama set for the year 2020. Obama has imposed the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants to combat climate change, with the 12 hottest years on record occurring in the past 15 years. His plan is attempting to move the United States from a coal-dependent past to a future of cleaner energy sources such as wind and solar power, nuclear energy and natural gas. Obama's plan also includes boosting renewable energy production on federal lands, increasing efficiency standards and preparing communities to deal with higher temperatures that many scientists say are being caused by human activity.

Company Responsible for Chemical Spill in West Virginia Was Considered Low-Risk Facility

Reuters - January 11, 2014

The New York Times - January 12, 2014

Akron Beacon Journal - January 14, 2014


The chemical spill on the Elk River in West Virginia that left 300,000 people without water for almost a week was barely scrutinized by officials there because regulators saw it as a low-risk facility. Regulators, with their scarce manpower, did not consider the chemicals stored at Freedom Industries near the river to be hazardous enough to prompt routine inspections. As a result, there was a problem with a leaking tank at a key holding facility that went undetected. According to Gov. Earl Ray Timblin, as much as 5,000 gallons (18,927 liters) of industrial chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or Crude MCHM, leaked into the river on Thursday, January 10. The governor declared an emergency for nine counties. Schools and businesses were closed in Charleston, the largest city in West Virginia, and hundreds of people were sickened with symptoms including  nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, rashes and reddened skin "varying from very mild to much more bothersome," water company spokesman Elizabeth Scharman said. Angela Rosser, executive director of West Virginia Rivers Coalition, noted that the site of the spill has not had a state or federal inspection since 1991 and that West Virginia law requires inspections only for production facilities, not storage facilities. "We can't just point a single finger at this company. We need to look at our entire system and give some serious thought to making some serious reform and valuing our natural resources over industry interests," Rosser said.

U.S. Oil Boom Forces Many European Refineries to Close in Last 5 Years

Akron Beacon Journal - January 9, 2014


The oil boom in the United States has forced 15 European refineries to close in the last five years with another due to shut down this year, according the International Energy Agency. Output from the Rocky Mountains has grown 31 percent since 2011 and will soon allow West Coast companies to cut back on more expensive oil from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, challenging producers there. "I don't really think anyone saw this coming," said Steve Sawyer, an analyst with FACTS Global Energy in London.

'Strong' Shale Counties in Eastern Ohio Not Seeing Substantial Increases in Work-Force Levels

Record-Courier - January 9, 2014

Akron Beacon Journal - January 10, 2014


The Utica Shale Gas Monitor, a study by the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, reviewed sales tax receipts, employment statistics, well permits and other data. They determined that despite the fact that eight counties in eastern Ohio were "strong" in terms of shale activity and five others were labeled "moderate" (including Portage County), these counties are not seeing substantial increases in work-force levels. It may take another 18 months of exploration and infrastructure building to accommodate oil and gas produced by fracking. These same counties are seeing double-digit increases in sales tax receipts, though. Hiring seems to be occurring more in outlying counties, such as Summit, as they attract service-industry jobs and workers tied to drilling. The report noted that the state would reap significant economic benefits if an ethane cracker plant is build in or close to Ohio. However, competing plans to ship ethane by pipeline from Ohio to the Gulf Coast for processing would hurt Ohio's economy in the long run.


--Lorraine McCarty  

 Save the Date: April 4 Portage County Environmental Awards Dinner at American Legion Hall

The Portage Park District Foundation presents the Annual Portage County Environmental Conservation Awards Dinner each April as an opportunity to honor and thank our local environmental heroes, enjoy good fellowship, and raise funds to support the Park District's vital work. This year's event is April 4 at the American Legion Hall.

 Thank You to Our Members for 2013

We want to extend a special thanks to our members for 2013:


Walt & Nancy Adams

Anne Andrews

Caroline Arnold

Richard & Eleanor Aron

John & Carole Begala

Loretta Blair

Brad Bolton

William and Grace Brinker

Brad Brotje

Bob Heath and Beth Buchanan

Debrah Butler

Garnet Byrne

Alfred Cavaretta

Jeanne & Ralph Cebulla

Kathleen Chandler

Edith Chase

Laura Davis & Tom Clapper

Tom & Miwako Cooperrider

David and Roberta Ewbank

Kelly Ferry

Charles Frederick

Sherry Gedeon

James Geisey

Ryan Genther

Mary Greer

Helen & Stanford Gregory

Rick Feineberg & Nancy Grim

Leigh & Anita Herington

Mary Lou Holly

Norma & John Hubbell

Jeff Ingram

Robert & Sandy Kehres

Joyce Keller

Audrey Cielinski Kessler

John & Martha Kluth

Terry & Elizabeth Kuhn

Dick & Janet Lewis

Karl Liske

Melissa Long

Christopher Mallin

Nora & Sandy Marovitz

Lorraine McCarty

Kenneth McGregor

Iris J. Meltzer

Wayne Munson

Ben & Debby Newberry

Gayle Bentley & Alan Orashan


Lisa Regula Meyer

D.J. Reiser

Steve & Mary Lou Renner

George & Jane Preston Rose

Chris & Don Schjeldahl

Mark & Linda Seeman

Fred & Diana Skok

Marilyn Sorrick

George Sosebee

Joan Sturtevant

Saroj Sutaria

Ted & Swanny Voneida

Harold & Janet Walker

David Waller

Ann H. Ward

Barbara Watson

Gene Wenninger

Germaine Williams

Camille Park & Robert Wilson
KEC Membership

We welcome anyone who wants to join the Kent Environmental Council and support our efforts. If you are already a member, you will be receiving a reminder of renewal by mail the month before the expiration date for your dues. Remember, dues are the main source of income for KEC. We need your support to do our work. Just fill out the KEC membership form. Enclose the completed form and your check made payable to: Kent Environmental Council and mail  to: KEC, P.O. Box 395, Kent, OH 44240. To join or renew online with PayPal, click here. Membership levels are $45, Sustaining; $35, Family; $25, Individual; $15, Golden Buckeye; $10, Student; $500, Lifetime; and $200, Organization.  




Offer Expires: No Expiration Date