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Kent Environmental Council
In This Issue
Green Building 103: Living Building Challenge
Standing Rock Cultural Arts Moves to New Building, Undertakes Green Renovations
Great Climate Awareness March Comes to Kent
Sustainability Summit Held in Cleveland
To Burn or Not to Burn?
Climate Change: Are We at the 29th Day?
Will We Choose to Save the Planet before It's Too Late?
Federal Report Singles Out Ohio For Flawed Fracking Waste Disposal Program
The Environment in the News
KEC Membership
Quick Links

Featured Article




Green Building 103: Living Building Challenge
KEC Board

Charles Frederick, Vice Chair
Iris Meltzer, Secretary 
Dick Lewis, Treasurer 
Welcome to the November 2014 issue of the Kent Environmental Council newsletter.  

Green Building 103: Living Building Challenge

This is the final of three articles about various green building concepts. This concluding article introduces a more extensive program then LEED and SITES and could provide needed direction to the city of Kent as the administration finishes in-progress building projects. The most comprehensive green building program is the Living Building Challenge (LBC).


Center for Sustainable Landscape at Phipps Conservancy and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The early ideas for the LBC began in the 1990s with research on sustainable design projects. By 2000, an early version of the LBC was compared to various LEED levels and found to be the best long-term economic choice for green building strategies. By 2005, version 1.0 was developed and, in 2006 was presented to the Cascadia Green Building Council in Washington state). In 2007, version 2.0 was released to the public. In 2009, the Living Building Institute was formed as an umbrella organization for the LBC. The institute certified the first projects 2010 and has had an international influence with green building projects and policies. As of this year, version 3.0 was released, and 201 projects in 12 countries are registered. 

The LBC should be seen as not only a certification program but also as an advocacy tool and philosophy to advance sustainable goals at multiple scales. The major difference with other green building strategies is that an LBC project is evaluated on proven performance--not anticipated outcomes--meaning that at least one year of operational data must be documented and analyzed during the review process. The review process can evaluate seven performance categories (or petals) with 20 associated imperatives that examine a project in a more holistic manner


PLACE: 1. Limits to Growth / 2. Urban Agriculture / 3. Habitat Exchange / 4. Car-Free Living


WATER: 5. Net Positive Water


ENERGY: 6. Net Positive Energy


HEALTH & HAPPINESS: 7. Civilized Environment / 8. Healthy Interior Environment / 9. Biophilic Environment


MATERIALS: 10. Red List / 11. Embodied Carbon Footprint / 12. Responsible Industry / 13. Living Economy Sourcing / 14. Net Positive Waste


EQUITY: 15. Human Scale + Humane Places / 16. Universal Access to Nature & Place / 17. Equitable Investment / 18. Just Organizations


BEAUTY: 19. Beauty + Spirit / 20. Inspiration + Education


There are three certification options that a project can pursue. The first is Living Building Certification, which is the highest level. All imperatives must be attained according to the project's typology (renovation, infrastructure + landscape, building, and community). These certified projects include mostly small educational projects with none in Ohio.  The second option is Petal Certification. This option is available if three or more petals are pursued with at least one of the following included: water, energy or materials. These certified projects include residential, commercial and community centers with none in Ohio. The third option is Net Zero Energy Building Certification. This option is available if a project achieves Energy Petal Certification and a subset of three petals: place, equity and beauty. These certified projects include residential, office and educational projects with none in Ohio (a nearby project is the Center for Sustainable Landscape at Phipps Conservancy and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). 


What this LBC green building strategy can provide for a city like Kent is a more comprehensive and holistic approach to sustainability and green building. The city's current planning document is the Bicentennial Plan, which was developed in 2004. This document is important for the city, but it needs to be revisited and updated if warranted. A critical aspect of that document was monitoring and evaluation of sustainability within the city. This was completed once. All of the green building concepts discussed in these articles (LEED, SITES and LBC) are based on the fundamental concept of "measuring" green building concepts that should result in more sustainable projects. The Bicentennial Plan was always thought of as a living document that needs to evolve with the community. Maybe the time is right to bring the community together--city hall, Kent State University, businesses, the public--and dream about Kent 2.0. What do we want to be when we grow up, and how does sustainability and green building get us to the dream?



Living Building Challenge 

Center for Sustainable Landscape at Phipps Conservancy and Botanical Gardens


--Charles Frederick, RLA, LEED AP, Graduate Landscape Architecture Program CAED

Standing Rock Cultural Arts Moves to New Building, Undertakes Green Renovations

After 22 years located at 257 N. Water St. in downtown Kent, the last 14 years as a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization, Standing Rock Cultural Arts was notified in September that its home had been sold and the owner wanted all tenants to vacate within 30 days.


In October, SRCA announced that it had secured a gallery and workshop space nearby in a solid, historic building with beautiful character at 300 N. Water St,. Suite H, adjacent to The FJ Kluth Gallery.


bamboo floor
Bamboo floor in SRCA's new home

A fundraising effort was begun with the goal of using a "green" approach to renovating the old space. As a result, the new North Water Street Gallery has a bamboo floor, LED lights and 500 watts of solar power. Essentially, the gallery can operate off-the-grid using 16 LED track lights to illuminate the art and a laptop (connected to a scanner/printer/music player) to run the business.


Here are a few examples of what the gallery's new solar generator can power: 

  • Energy Star refrigerator at 6 amps per hour -- Continuous
  • Mini refrigerator -- Continuous
  • Freezer, 8.8 cubic feet -- Continuous
  • Sump pump, 1/2 horsepower -- Up to 5 hours
  • Home alarm system -- Continuous
  • 1000 watt microwave oven -- Up to 240 minutes per day
  • Garage door opener -- 6 hours
  • Portable cooler -- Up to 80 hours
  • Blender -- Up to 12 hours


solar panels
Solar panels on the roof of SRCA's new home

SRCA believes that programs such as the New World Children's Theatre, Downtown Innovative Community Events, poetry readings, workshops, exhibits, music concerts, dance performances and film festivals contribute to the quality of life in Kent. A sustainable business model is the key to making these art and education activities happen now and for future generations.


A Pie Festival fundraiser is set for December 6.  SRCA invites the community to visit and come back often. Donations can be made through the SCRA website at or at 300 N. Water St,. Suite H, Kent, OH 44240. Make checks payable to SRCA.


--Jeff Ingram, Executive Director, Standing Rock Cultural Arts 

Great Climate Awareness March Comes to Kent

march eaters 1
Climate marchers enjoy a potluck dinner

Marchers for climate change awareness left Los Angeles in March 1 with a plan to arrive in Washington, D.C., on November 1.When they arrived in Kent on October 7, the marchers were treated to a potluck dinner at the Fred Fuller Shelter House hosted by individuals from Concerned Citizens Ohio, the Kent Environmental Council and the Kent Community Time Bank. Tina Bergmann provided dulcimer music as everyone ate. The marchers had stories to tell about

marchers eating 2
Climate marchers mingle during the potluck dinner

their journey and the people they had met. They talked about the need to live our lives sustainably and to care for the environment. The marchers also were very interested in local efforts for climate change and any testimony they could take with them to Washington and stressed the importance of keeping a sense of hope for the future. Christ Episcopal Church of Kent housed most of the marchers, while a few stayed with individual volunteers; however, often on their march they camped out after covering about 20 miles a day. They planned to rally for a week in Washington and then petition federal officials.

 --Lorraine McCarty

Sustainability Summit Held in Cleveland

At KEC's informal Friday breakfast on October 18, member Charles Frederick reported on a two-day sustainability summit he attended in Cleveland in September. Five hundred participants developed action plans on a variety of topics to enhance the vitality of their communities and make them more sustainable. General concepts discussed in Cleveland included how power is distributed in communities, how the problem people want to work on is defined and how to solve it. The participants agreed that how people talk about issues is extremely important and emphasized the need to reach out to everyone and abandon a win/lose mentality. Being able to do so, the participants noted is essential for the future of the planet. The Friday morning breakfast meeting attendees talked about the importance of trying to implement these concepts locally.


--Lorraine McCarty 

To Burn or Not to Burn?

When all this year's gorgeous fall foliage ends up in a pile in our yards, is it OK to light a match to it? Kent's local clean air agency, the Akron Regional Air Quality Management District (ARAQMD), warns that open burning is a big No-No under Ohio Environmental Protection Agency regulations.


They explain open burning can release many kinds of toxic fumes. Leaves and plant materials send aloft millions of spores when they catch fire, causing many people with allergies to have difficulty breathing. The pollutants released by open burning make it more difficult to meet health-based air-quality standards, especially in or near large cities. The gasses released by open burning also can corrode metal siding and damage paint on buildings.


But my local fire official in my new home of Ithaca, New York, said open burning is OK! Fire officials base their rules on public health concerns as these pertain to air quality. The smoke created from open burning does not stay on the property of the person igniting an open burn and may cause a public health problem.


Burning household waste produces many toxic chemicals and is one of the largest sources of dioxins in the United States. Other air pollution from open burning includes fine particles, sulfur dioxide, lead and mercury. These pollutants have been linked to several health problems, including asthma, respiratory issues, nervous system damage, kidney and liver damage, and reproductive disorders.

In order to be a good neighbor and protect the air we all breathe, the ARAQMD encourages everyone to visit their website or call 330-375-2408 to learn more.
--Edith Chase
Climate Change: Are We at the 29th Day?

Some climate skeptics recently admitted that climate change is real and is affected by human activities.  They insist, however, that authorities are far from having the knowledge needed to make good policy decisions on the issue of climate change. Climate change believers contend that authorities could accelerate the development of so-called no-regrets strategies such as low-emission technologies and cost-effective energy-efficiency measures. But, the skeptics ask, "What's the hurry?"


Donella Meadows, author of Beyond the Limits (1992), reminds readers about a French riddle for children about exponential growth-the apparent suddenness with which an exponentially growing quantity approaches a fixed limit.


Suppose you owned a pond on which a water lily is growing. The lily plant doubles in size each day. If the plant was allowed to grow unchecked, it would completely cover the pond in 30 days, choking off the other forms of life in the water. For a long time, the lily plant seems small, so you decide not to worry about it until the plant covers half the pond. Meadows asks: "On what day will that be?"


--Edith Chase
Will We Choose to Save the Planet before It's Too Late?

According to the November 2014 United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) final report, which combines three earlier reports, there is conclusive evidence that humans are altering the earth's climate systems. The panel members are 95 percent certain that the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation are the main causes of the warming seen since the mid 20th century.  The report discusses climate impacts such as melting Arctic sea ice and rising sea levels that already are happening and could become irreversible unless the world curbs greenhouse gas emissions.


Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environmental Program, notes that the world has the technological capacity to act and needs to do it urgently, or the cost of cutting emissions will rise exponentially every year and be more costly to the economy. While stopping short of telling governments what to do, the panel presents scenarios showing that warming can be kept in check by shifting to renewable sources such as wind and solar and using technology to capture greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.


Ban Ki-moon
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Crowds in New York and around the world have pushed for fast action, touting their message that the world will lose its planet in the next generation.  More than 100,000 people gathered in New York as the U.N. Climate Summit of 100 world leaders opened. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, addressed the summit saying, "Climate change is the defining issue of our time, and there is no time to lose. There is no Plan B because we do not have planet B. We have to work and galvanize our action."  


China, the United States and India--the world's three biggest carbon polluting nations--all saw their emissions jump. In addressing the climate change conference, U.S. President Barack Obama noted U.S. growth of renewables, pledges to cut emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and creation of initiatives to help developing nations cope with global warming and urged others countries to join in the effort, while also acknowledging heavy political resistance in the United States where Congress repeatedly has voiced opposition to binding limits on carbon emissions. "The alarm bells are ringing," Obama told the assembly. "We cannot pretend we do not hear them." He especially noted rising sea levels and more intense weather events.  


Zhang Gaoli
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli

Others note that U.S. policy does not show the urgency that comes across in Obama's rhetoric. Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli pledged to "take on responsibilities commensurate with our development levels." And at the end of September, Obama came to an agreement with visiting Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi on measures to accelerate India's shift to renewable fuels, reduce carbon emissions while helping India's new government extend electricity to all of its 1.2 billion citizens. The agreement also called for India to take modest steps to cut HFCs, powerful greenhouse gases. The Obama administration has secured cooperation from major U.S. chemical manufacturers to rapidly phase out domestic production of HFCs in favor of more environmentally friendly alternatives already on the market.


In September, the Rockefellers, heirs to an oil fortune, announced that they will divest their $860 million philanthropic organization, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, of fossil fuel investments. They are joining at least 180 institutions--including philanthropies, religious organizations, pension funds and local governments--and hundreds of wealthy individual investors who have pledged to sell portfolio assets tied to fossil fuel companies and invest in cleaner alternatives. Divesting their $51 billion is not likely to have an immediate impact, but they hope their support of the environment will lead to new regulations, new technologies and the concept of not investing in fossil fuels moving into the mainstream.


The Audubon Society recently released a study of 588 bird species showing that nearly half of the species in the United States and Canada are threatened by global warming.  Two hundred thirteen of the 314 birds at risk can be found in Ohio. Northeast Ohio could lose bald eagles, ospreys, wild turkeys, barred owls and many other favorite species because of rising sea levels, agricultural changes, extreme weather and threats to health--the same issues that humans experience as consequences of global warming. The Audubon Society urges the country to do everything possible to protect the places these birds live and everything possible to reduce the severity of global warming. 


book jacket
By Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, argues that it will take nothing less than a complete transformation of global politics and economics to arrest global warming. A growing economy has meant a growth in carbon emissions, which has led to carbon dioxide levels in 2013 increasing faster than they have in 30 years. If global warming is as catastrophic as environmentalists claim, she says leaders nationwide need to rethink growth and other economic goals. Her worst case scenario says that officials are losing the battle and that half measures are insufficient. The problem cannot be fixed with recycling and renewables. All parties need to join efforts to keep carbon in the ground. She sees this as once in a century chance to rebuild the world. We must, she says, "make radical changes ourselves or radical changes will be visited upon our world."


michael grunwald
Time Senior National Correspondent Michael Grunwald

Polls have shown that while 75 percent of Americans believe that global warming is having or will have a serious impact on the planet, only 54 percent believe that human activity rather than natural fluctuations explain rising temperatures. Time magazine's Michael Grunwald recently wrote the article "Do Worry. But Be Happy." He cites many disasters and warnings about irreversible tipping points but also points out that change is happening, and the world is starting to de-carbonize. Yes, Grunwald argues, people should worry whether or not actions are coming fast enough. But there are some bright spots. Wind and solar are increasingly cost-competitive with coal and comprise larger portions of U.S. power generation. New technologies such as LED lighting, programmable thermostats and superefficient windows are going mainstream, and electrical vehicle sales are doubling every year because of decreasing battery prices. New carbon rules in the United States and carbon taxes in Sweden, cap-and-trade regimes in California and the European Union are making dirty energy more expensive, which makes cleaner energies more attractive. And while official forecasts show a fossil-fueled economy for decades to come, the world does not always work the way it has in the past. People have managed to solve problems such as filthy rivers and smoggy air and acid rain, Grunwald notes, adding that there is a plausible a case for optimism that the incentive of saving the planet will make rescuing the planet a reality also.


Is it still possible to save the planet?  As the author of this article, I sure hope so. But I do worry that we are waiting until l too late.


 --Lorraine McCarty

Federal Report Singles Out Ohio for Flawed Fracking Waste Disposal Program: Excerpts from Buckeye Forest Council Sept. 25 News Release

The federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report disclosing that of eight states studied, only Ohio allows contaminated waste fluids from oil and gas wells to be disposed without advance disclosure of the contaminants contained in the waste. The report had been requested by members of the U.S. Senate and House environment committees to determine how much is disclosed about the nature and toxicity of such wastes now that horizontal fracturing, or fracking, of deep shale rock layers to unlock oil and natural gas deposits has become common.


The GAO report concluded that the seven other states (California, Colorado, Kentucky, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas) required waste disposal companies to provide information on the characteristics of the waste to be disposed before they could receive a permit to inject the waste. 


Injection wells are used to dispose of the vast majority of fracking waste. The wells inject the waste fluids, frequently under high pressure, into deep rock formations where, in theory, the fluids cannot contaminate sources of drinking water. Injection wells used for this purpose are authorized by federal law under the Safe Drinking Water Act, which in turns allows states, including Ohio, to permit these large disposal operations through state permitting programs.


The GAO report states that the amount of oil and gas well waste has increased dramatically since the advent of fracking and that at least 2 billion gallons of contaminated waste are disposed of in injection wells daily. The toxic content of this waste fluid and the weak federal and state programs for regulating it--a concern substantiated in the GAO report--has been a frequent target of criticism for environmental groups.


GAO report reveals that many of the states studied have elaborate requirements to confirm the nature of this waste fluid before it can be approved for disposal. North Dakota, for example, requires a full quantitative analysis from a state-certified laboratory be included in the permit application. Pennsylvania requires testing for specific gravity, total organic carbon, pH, specific conductance, sodium, chloride, iron, manganese, total dissolved solids, barium, hydrogen sulfide, alkalinity and dissolved oxygen, hardness, and magnesium. Kentucky requires testing for pH, total dissolved solids, and specific gravity, a list of all chemicals and their composition used for stimulation and fracturing, and a list of any additives used and their chemical composition, including any inhibitors used the prevent scaling, corrosion, or bacterial growth.


In contrast, Ohio requires no disclosure of the characteristics of the waste fluid either before or after an injection well permit is issued by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The GAO accepted comments from ODNR about the report, but the department said only that it can take its own samples if it wanted to do so.


Ohio environmental groups point to the GAO report as more evidence that Ohio's injection well program at ODNR is weak and ineffectual. "This report clearly supports what communities have known for years: Ohio's huge injection well industry--which takes a huge amount of waste daily, most of which is from out-of-state--has minimal regulation that is simply not up to the task of protecting Ohio's drinking water. It is a system designed by and for the oil and gas industry that no citizen has any reason to trust," said Teresa Mills, consultant for the Buckeye Forest Council. Mills also finds it revealing that radioactive isotopes in the waste fluids are not mentioned in the report.


Bern Township Trustee Roxanne Groff noted that "ODNR's own statistics that it has permitted over 240 injection wells while the neighboring states of Pennsylvania and West Virginia that frack extensively have far fewer injection wells; most of the contaminated waste fluids from those states is shipped to Ohio for injection."


Groff also pointed to a state law (Senate Bill 325) passed in May 2012 allows oil and gas companies to label any fracking chemical a trade secret and not disclose its content to the state. It was later learned that this provision, R.C. 1509.10(I), was based on an industry-drafted bill distributed by the secretive American Legislative Exchange Council, a group with close ties to the Koch Brothers and numerous Ohio legislators.


"Chemical secrecy has been the oil and gas industry's goal from the beginning and they've achieved more secrecy in Ohio than any other state," Groff said. "Ohio state officials joined early with the oil and gas industry in a joint press strategy that they would continually brand Ohio's fracking program as a 'national leader' regardless of the underlying facts. That lie has been exposed once again, and this GAO report helps finish the job of exposing that Ohio is not the national leader it claims to be."


For more information, contact Theresa Mills of the Buckeye Forest Council at 614-539-1471 or Roxanne Groff at 740-707-3610. 


--Submitted by Mary Greer

 The Environment in the News

Kent 'Bill of Rights' Fails by 324 Votes

Record-Courier - November 5, 2014

Issue 21 would have banned fracking within the city of Kent and guaranteed citizens' rights to clean water and sustainable energy. The issue was sponsored by the Kent Environmental Rights Group and opposed by the Citizens for Good Legislation. Kent Councilman Garret Ferrara, an opponent of the issue, said he was glad to know that people had concerns and acknowledged their legitimacy but felt that energy to solve the problems with fracking should be addressed at the state level where it would really make a difference. Perry Phillips, a proponent of Issue 21, felt that many people were confused because unfounded concerns, such as increased utility rates, were raised by the opposition. Similar issues had already been approved by voters in Broadview Heights, Mansfield and other communities in Ohio.


Energy Efficient Practices Used in Building Kent Home

Record-Courier - September 19, 2014


Insulated concrete forms were used to build the walls of Kent resident Iris Meltzer's new home. The forms prevent heat loss while strengthening the structure against extreme weather. A passive solar design was used to gather sunlight and reduce dependence on electric lighting and heating. Doors and other parts from her old house (which will be torn down to make way for Kent State University projects) were reused in the new one. Most of the original trees on the new site were retained, and sandstone walls from the original property were reused in landscaping. (Bob Beckwith's house at the site was demolished in 2003.)  The project was designed and completed by architect Peter Piano and was on the 2014 Parade of Homes tour. Meltzer, secretary of the Kent Environmental Council, said it was important for her new home to be built with as small a carbon footprint as possible.


EPA to Help Reduce Lake Erie Algae Issue

Akron Beacon Journal - October 5 & 21, 2014

Record-Courier - October 16, 2014


Ohio, Michigan and Indiana combined will receive $8.6 million in federal grants to decrease phosphorous runoff, which has been responsible for an algae growth that left 400,00 people in the Toledo area without drinkable tap water for two days in August. The grants will pay for technical assistance and incentives to farmers. Taking a regional approach is imperative, said Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director James Zehringer, adding that "programs must be sustainable and targeted at the most effective practices on the highest priority watersheds."The blue-green algae blooms produce a toxin that can kill pets and livestock and cause liver damage in humans. Farm runoff is the main culprit along with sewage treatment plants and septic tanks. Additional grants to expand water quality monitoring will be announced soon through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an Obama administration program. One strategy of the program is to keep water on croplands long enough for sediments and nutrients to diminish before the water flows to streams and lakes. A scientific study, however, says that proposals for reducing phosphorous runoff will not be enough to cut more toxic bacterial blooms and that a greater reduction in phosphorous runoff will be needed.



Farmers Want Changes in Water Measure

Akron Beacon Journal - October 5, 2014


U.S. The Ohio Farmers Union is seeking changes in a water quality/agricultural bill pending in the Legislature because they believe the changes will be an important part of Ohio's efforts to control nutrient runoff. Union President Joe Logan said his organization is requesting a change so that all operators of confined animal feeding operations or their contractors report how much manure is delivered to others and where it goes. The union also is suggesting that soil and water conservation districts share data to help develop strategies for reducing watershed pollution.  



Greener Rubber Products in the Works

Akron Beacon Journal - September 23, 2014


Rice husk ash, a waste product left from the burning of rice husks, will be harvested and the silica in the ash used to produce high-performance racing tires at Goodyear. Pirelli, an Italian tire maker, already is using this process. Silica improves the rolling resistance in the tires so they need less energy and burn less fuel. Harvesting the silica also reduces the amount of waste that goes into landfills. Puma, a shoe maker, uses rice husk filler in its outsoles to reduce scuffing and tearing. Goodyear already uses soybean oil to replace some of the petroleum oil needed to make tires. Bridgestone Americas has opened a research facility in Arizona to extract natural rubber from guayule, a desert shrub found in the southwestern United States. Findlay (Ohio)-based Cooper Tire & Rubber is looking at dandelions as a source of natural rubber, while other companies are looking at using citrus oils for petroleum oils in tires, Tire Business magazine's Bruce Davis. He reports that Sumitomo Rubber Industries has developed a line of tires made entirely from renewables, but the tires are available only in Japan. 



Study: Hundreds of Ohio Earthquakes Linked to Fracking

Record-Courier - October 15 & 16, 2014


The November issue of Seismological Research Letter identified nearly 400 earthquakes in Harrison County between October 2 and December 13 of last year. While these earthquakes were deemed minor in terms of magnitude (1.7 to 2.2) and none of them were reported to have been felt by people, they were intense enough to have temporarily halted activity under Ohio's new 2014 drilling permit rules. The earthquakes fell along a fault directly under three fracking operations and began within hours of the start of fracking at the site. Bethany McCorkle of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said that newly installed seismic monitoring equipment is keeping a close watch for earthquakes strong enough to be felt. Rowena Lohman of Cornell University, who was not involved in the study, said that it has been known since the 1970s that some faults cannot be discovered until underground activity occurs and that the worry is whether or not something is being done that will lead to larger earthquakes. Study coauthor Paul Friberg said that some of the tremors were significantly larger than the small earthquakes expected. In its Opinion column on October 16, the Record-Courier states that such findings "cast doubt on the assertions of those involved with fracking who say the procedure poses no threat to health and safety." They add that "earthquakes, even when they are undetectable, pose concern. The possibility that 'small' earthquakes can be a prelude to larger ones is disturbing. The Harrison county study suggests the need for even closer monitoring of fracking activity in Ohio."



Fracking, Water-Contamination Issues Studied

Akron Beacon Journal - September 16, 2014

Record-Courier - October 16 $ 17, 2014


A study at Ohio State University looked at dozens of sites but focused on eight hydraulically fractured wells in Pennsylvania and Texas, using chemical analysis to determine when in the process of gas extraction that methane leaked into the groundwater. The methane increased tenfold during the year of the study. Thomas Darrah, lead author of the study, said the results showed that the contamination problems were caused by leaks in the pipes and seals in the natural gas wells. These leaks, he added are easier to fix and are more preventable than other types of contamination problems. Homeowners whose water has been contaminated, however, do not care about what step in the process is responsible for the leakage. They just know that their lives have been changed by nearby drilling, said Rob Jackson, coauthor of the study. In Pennsylvania, 243 cases of private water-supply contamination have been connected to oil and gas activities. Environmental groups are calling for state regulators to strengthen their regulations covering the poor pipes and cement seals used in oil and gas operations. Cornell University engineering professor Anthony Ingraffea, who was not part of the study, said he is worried because "it's impossible to drill and cement a well that will never leak." A landmark federal Department of Energy study on fracking in Pennsylvania found no evidence that chemicals from fracking moved upward to contaminate drinking water. An independent company monitored the fracking process and the site for 18 months afterward and found the chemical fluids used in the process stayed about 5,000 feet below drinking water supplies. The DOE, however, agrees that this is not the final word on the subject. Other sites could have different results because of different geology or drilling practices. Environmentalists and regulators also have documented instances of surface spills of chemicals or wastewater that have damaged drinking water supplies. Other issues related to shale gas development include methane gas leaks, wasteful use of fresh water and air pollution. 



OSU Team Invents Hybrid Battery

Akron Beacon Journal - September 4, 2014


Ohio State University Professor Viyng Wu and his students have developed a breakthrough technology--the world's first rechargeable solar battery--which researchers say can make solar energy more affordable for homeowners and businesses and could lead to widespread use of solar as a sustainable power source. Solar panels now on the market work by gathering solar energy and converting it to electricity that usually goes back into the grid by being traded for traditional electricity, with coal and gas used in the exchange. This process allows homeowners to have power when the sun is not shining. Wu noted that solar power systems lose about 20 percent of the energy produced when the energy is transferred to a battery. The new battery is a more efficient way to store the energy produced. While the batteries are not yet able to singlehandedly power a whole house, the technology is moving in the direction that will allow houses to be completely off the grid-using the energy they produce directly, more efficiently and at a lower cost. Use of such batteries would cut solar system manufacturing costs by about 25 percent, and the batteries would last about as long as current rechargeable batteries.



High Air Pollution Levels Found Near Gas Wells

Record-Courier - October 22, 2014

Akron Beacon Journal - October 22, 2014


Air pollution levels near well sites in rural southern Ohio were higher than in downtown Chicago when a team from the University of Cincinnati and Oregon State University used 25 monitors over three weeks in February 2014. The monitors detected 32 types of hydrocarbon-based compounds. The researchers did not discuss specific findings and plan additional monitoring to obtain more precise measurements that account for drilling activity, wind and weather. They also plan to analyze wrist monitors that some residents living near the wells wore for three weeks. Resident Kathryn King complained about loud noises at all hours from the initial drilling and said that the pungent odors burn her nostrils. She is paid about $1,000 a month for the gas being extracted from her land but wishes that fracking had never started. "There's a whole myriad of things going on that are not good." Soybean farmer Al Butz said that while fracking has helped this impoverished county, he rues the day that the rigs arrived. "It was a pristine place. . . . Then all hell breaks loose."



Fracking Makes Way to Clinton Sandstone in Stark County

Akron Beacon Journal - September 2, 2014


EnerVest, a Texas oil and gas drilling company, is testing shallow horizontal boring around the Alliance and Louisville areas to test the potential for profit. While Clinton sandstone has been profitable for a century using vertical wells 3,000 to 4600 feet below the surface, this is the early stages of looking at the viability of using today's technology for this formation. Clinton sandstone is found beneath 25 counties in eastern Ohio. Utica wells go down about 6,000 feet and then extend horizontally outward two miles or more. The Clinton wells will go down 4,600 feet and extend horizontally about 1,500 feet. If the shallower and shorter Clinton wells are viable, they will cost millions less to drill than Utica wells. Some say that this will mean less water, sand and chemicals will be used than for Utica wells. Others believe that faults in the underground rocks and old Clinton wells might lead to drilling contaminants reaching groundwater.  


--Summarized by Lorraine McCarty  

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. 


Membership levels are $45, Sustaining; $35, Family; $25, Individual; $15, Golden Buckeye; $10, Student; $500, Lifetime; and $200, Organization.  


To join or renew, send your name, address, phone number, email address and check made payable to KEC, P.O. Box 395, Kent, OH 44240. 

To join or renew online with PayPal, click here.  




Offer Expires: No Expiration Date