Backyard Talk

Kids Tuna Surprise

Tuna it turns out is still filled with toxic mercury.  A recent article focused on studies that underscore health risks for children consuming the mercury-tainted tuna  fish. Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist writes that “Based on two recent reports, Adam Finkel, a University of Pennsylvania professor who is also a national expert on human health-risk assessment, fears many of the nation’s kids are eating too much tuna – aided and abetted by being offered it at school.

Tuna has a lot going for it. It’s popular and cheap, loaded with protein and low in fat. And federal health guidelines are simple and direct: We should eat more seafood. But tuna also is the biggest source of mercury in the American diet.

Mercury is emitted by coal-fired power plants and other industries. It gets into waterways, then into fish, accumulating as it moves up the food chain to top predators such as tuna. Mercury can harm memory, intelligence, and hand-eye coordination, so federal guidelines advise limited consumption for young children and women who are or may become pregnant. Note: Albacore tuna has more mercury than light tuna.

But the guideline is broad. And a report issued in September by the Mercury Policy Project, a Vermont nonprofit, found that mercury levels in institutional-size cans of tuna, the kind used in schools, vary widely.

The report, “Tuna Surprise,” tested 59 samples of institutional tuna from 11 states. The author, environmental health expert Edward Groth, found that children eating the same amount of tuna from different sources could get mercury doses that vary by tenfold. Tuna from Latin America has more mercury than tuna from the United States and Asia…..Finkel considers tuna “a needless risk” and says the smaller the child, the less tuna he or she should eat. Groth’s report recommends that children weighing less than 55 pounds eat tuna no more than once a month.

Even in schools where tuna is served sparingly, the problem is the unusual kid who loves it and eats it at every opportunity, Groth and Finkel say. Adam Finkel, a Penn expert on human health-risk assessment, recommends parents ask their school district these questions:

How often is tuna served? Worst is if it’s on a salad bar every day, so a kid who loves it can load up, Finkel says.

What kind is it? Chunk light has less mercury than albacore.

Where is it from? The “Tuna Surprise” report found that tuna from Latin America has more mercury than tuna from the United States and Asia.

The FDA’s information page on mercury and fish:

The EPA’s information page:

“Tuna Surprise” Report:

Backyard Talk

Pipeline Spill in a Small Arkansas Town May Shift Opinions on Keystone XL

As we anxiously await President Obama’s decision on TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, new concerns have emerged regarding detection of leaks and other potential hazards the pipeline could pose to public health. Last year alone roughly 364 pipelines had spills in the U.S., leaving a total of 54,000 barrels of oil to clean up, according to PBS, quoting the Department of Transportation.

An increasing number of Texas and Oklahoma residents worry about pipeline spills. One, of the more recent ones occurred in March, when ExxonMobil’s Pegasus Pipeline near Mayflower, Ark., ruptured and flooded streets and yards in nearby neighborhoods.

Although ExxonMobil said nearby lakes and air quality weren’t affected, local scientists remain skeptical. A 2010 spill in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River left residual amounts of tar sands in the river bed.

As in the 2010 spill in Michigan, residents of Mayflower immediately began reporting health complications–including headaches and coughing fits—and worry about lingering effects from benzene, linked to respiratory illness and cancer. A month after the Arkansas spill, the Pegasus Pipeline again ruptured in the neighboring state of Missouri, adding to the count of incidents this year. Some justice may be served on behalf of Mayflower residents, as last week Arkansas’s attorney general filed suit against ExxonMobil for improper waste storage and water contamination.

These disasters serve as a chain of omens as Keystone XL’s approval looms near. Despite the spills, TransCanada refuses to adopt additional safety measures such as infrared leak detection equipment for helicopters performing fly-overs, according to Bloomberg, even after TransCanada found a series of “anomalies” and dents in the pipeline, requiring workers to dig up segments near Douglass, Texas, part of the final stretch of the project.

Now, on the edge of a landmark decision, President Obama has, as New York Times reporter John Broder put it, “a rare opportunity to set the parameters of the energy debate for the rest of his term.” Many, including former Obama aides, former Vice President Al Gore, and even Nobel Prize winner the Dalai Lama have all called for the president to veto the project. Any appeasement of environmental groups with a smaller, side deal by the administration cannot offset the damage the pipeline will reap on communities and ecosystems.

Backyard Talk

Winning Doesn’t Happen Because You’re Right – You Need To Be Organized

How can you get protective action from regulatory agencies or corporation? The answer has always been through organized people. It is not new news that corporations and powerful rich people can and will control what is or is not done as it relates to public health and the environment. However, what most people fail to realize is that people united in action can influence decision and yes can even win. CHEJ has been working with communities for over thirty years and we’ve seen the power of people in communities.

It was Mississippi citizens, opposed to a hazardous waste incinerator that stopped the facility in its tracks. The groups lawyers had no legal avenues and the scientists were outnumbered by the corporate or “cigarette scientists” by four to one. Local leaders could have just thrown up their hands and walked away in frustration but they didn’t. In a small room people gathered to brainstorm what they could do to stop the proposal and came up with a brilliant idea. An idea by the way that might just work for your fight.

Since there was only one road for trucks to travel when dropping off waste and returning home they needed to think about that road. There is a school, childcare center, church, store and more along that roadway, which would place a large number of families especially children at risk. So the local road is the focus, what can they do?

Since it’s a locally controlled road they asked their local government to place restrictions on the road. The group came up with a list of restrictions that the local government fully supported. Here’s the restrictions that were passed into local law: no trucks could travel on the road during the hours children enter or leave school; all trucks will be inspected before entering the populated area by a skilled inspector; the trucking company will pay a fee for that inspection; a police escort will travel with all trucks arriving during normal working hours and when there are evening school activities; the trucking company will pay a fee to cover the costs of the additional police officers needed to escort; and more.

The result of this was the company decided not to build near that community because of the costs associated with the local requirements. A victory that came from the people and their local representatives and worked within the existing laws.

Another example where people took control, refused to work within the confines or rules of the federal agency is in a small African American community in Florida. The group was looking for a proper clean up of their toxic dump site ask the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to come and hold an open meeting with local citizens to talk about the clean up. EPA said no to an open meeting and insisted on have a meeting where information would be shared through tables set up around the room where people can meet in small groups with the EPA representative discussing a part or segment of their efforts. This of course is a divide and concur technique that was developed to suppress community voices.

Local leaders opposed this staging of issue tables around the room by EPA because it doesn’t allow for community members to learn about issues and problems from other community members. In a large group setting everyone hears the same thing, people benefit from other community members questions and the associated responses from the agency. A large inclusive meeting also allow those who are shy to obtain information because they would never had asked.

So how did the community get what they wanted? Community leaders said yes to the small group tables in the basement of their church. Leaders also requested that the public availability be open in the morning and later in the evening. EPA agreed and set up their tables in the morning and spoke with some community members. When EPA left for lunch the local leader locked the church. When it was time for the evening session on the door of the church hung a sign that said the EPA informational meeting is being held a few doors down. Needless to say when EPA saw this they were angry they couldn’t get back in the church and sit at their little stations to talk with folks. With no slides, posters or other tools EPA walked down to the other meeting hall filled with over 100 people and took their place in front of the room. People we all able to hear and react with questions and comments about the plan to clean up their toxic site.

Community members were so glad that they all meet together. “I would have any idea about how to start the conversation with EPA about the toxic’s,” said one woman. “I am still learning. My neighbors and our community leaders really helped me with their comments and questions to understand the issues. I am so glad they did this even if it was a little radical.”

It is citizens across the country who have almost completely stopped the commercial land filling of hazardous wastes. Our laws and regulations still allow commercial land filling of hazardous chemicals, there are no laws prohibiting it, but the people refuse to allow such a facility to be built in their community, since 1982. When the people stand together we can accomplish more than what we can win in the regulatory arena.

So the track record is clear, more collective action and more thinking out of the box – not just asking ourselves what can we do within “their defined rules and systems,” will win a safe, clean environment for us all.

Backyard Talk

Dioxin Levels in Food – Where's the Beef?

Last year the USEPA completed and published the non-cancer portion of its health assessment for dioxin, one of the most toxic substances ever tested.This event passed without much fan-fare and little coverage by the media. With exception to CHEJ, even the environmental and health advocacy community paid it little attention. This is remarkable because the EPA’s health assessment on dioxin adds an important piece of new information that answers the question about the levels of dioxin in the American food supply. Until publishing this report, EPA had sidestepped the question of setting a reference dose for dioxin because they knew if they did this, they could no longer deny the obvious – the average daily intake of dioxin in food exceeds our best measure of what’s safe, EPA’s reference dose.

A reference dose is generally defined as “a level below which exposures are generally considered to be safe.” EPA’s Reference Dose for dioxin is 0.7 picograms TEQ per kilogram per day (pg/kg/d). According to EPA data, the adult daily intake of dioxin is 66 pg/day. Dividing this value by the average weight of an adult (70 kilograms), you get an average daily intake of dioxin of 0.94 TEQ pg/kg/d, 34% higher than the safe level. For children the numbers are even higher because of their smaller body size.

For example, a 2003 study by the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Dioxin in Food found that children ages 1 to 5 were exposed to 1.09 pg TEQ/kg/day and children ages 6-11 years old were exposed to 0.69 pg TEQ/kg/day. According to this analysis, dioxin exposure in children 1 to 5 years old exceeds EPA’s reference dose and that children 6 to 11 years old have dioxin exposure that is virtually identical to the reference dose. A recent research paper found that the average daily intake of dioxin in 207 pre-school aged children was 1.01 pg TEQ/kg/day, well above the EPA reference dose of 0.7 pg /kg day.

EPA has argued for some time that dioxin exposures are going down and in 2009 EPA published a paper that estimated the daily average intake of dioxin to be only 0.54 pg TEQ/kg/day. This estimate was based on an EPA estimate of dioxin levels in food. Unfortunately, there is no consensus of how much dioxin exists in the food we eat. We know that over 95% of our daily exposure results from ingestion of animal fat, primarily meat and dairy and that people who live near specific dioxin sources are exposed to even higher concentrations.

It is clear however that large numbers of the U.S. population, especially children, are being exposed to dioxin in food at levels that exceed EPA’s reference dose. We need to stop pretending that dioxin levels in food are not a problem and take this issue on. We need better data on dioxin levels in food and how it gets there, and for EPA, FDA, and USDA to engage in this issue. This is not likely however, until the public begins to demand it.


Backyard Talk

Plant erupts in flames while chemical industry booms due to cheap natural gas

Less than two months after the disaster at West Fertilizer Co. in West, Texas, another chemical plant erupted in flames Thursday just south of Baton Rouge, La.  The explosion at the Williams Olefins plant in Geismar killed at least one person and injured over 73 employees, according to the Washington Post. The cause of the explosion remains too early to determine— and as of Friday the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had yet to visit the site. The  plant produces the  combustible and flammable chemicals ethylene and polymer grade propylene—used to make a range of plastic products– according to Reuters.

I’ve worked in plants for a few years, but I’ve never been that up close and personal with an explosion before. It felt like heat, intense heat,” plant worker Shavonne Stewart told The Advocate in an interview.

The explosion at the Williams Olefins plant is the latest in a  series of similar incidents  this year –, notably,  the disaster in West, Texas, which killed 15 people, and a  train blast in Maryland. The explosion at Williams Olefins stands apart, however, due to its direct tie to the natural gas boom.

The production of ethylene and propylene requires natural gas—explicitly, the use of methane. . This past December the chemical juggernaut Dow Chemical Co. restarted a previously closed plant in Hahnville, La., according to Bloomberg. Like Williams, owner of the plant in Geismar, Dow saw the abundance of cheap shale gas as an opportunity to restart  a previously unsuccessful venture. The Hahnville plant will be used to “boost ethylene and propylene capacity through 2017 because of cheap gas, used as a raw material and to power plants. Hydraulic fracturing of shale rock formations caused a glut of gas supplies and sent prices to a decade low in April,” Bloomberg reported.

It is safe to assume chemical disasters such as the one this past Thursday will become more common as the availability of cheap natural gas encourages more expansion in the  chemical  industry.  A  Center for American Progress report on the 101  most dangerous chemical facilities in the United States—two of them in Louisiana– found that 80 million people  “live within range of a catastrophic chemical release”.

Moreover, despite the efforts of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), many facilities remain vulnerable to any manner of industrial sabotage or disaster. The DHS currently monitors over 4,000 “high-risk” facilities—which did not include West Fertilizer Co. despite its clear vulnerability–under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program,   which critics say is full of loopholes.

With the string of disasters in the last two months, the need for change in both  the types of chemicals produced  and the level of oversight provided by the DHS—which does not require companies to seek safer alternatives —is clear. How many more Wests can we tolerate?

Backyard Talk

WARNING: Vinyl rain coats chock full of hazardous chemicals

With the summer only a few weeks away, many parents are going out and buying new rain gear — but parents may unwittingly be exposing our most vulnerable children to lead, cadmium, and even phthalates, chemicals so toxic they have been banned in toys and baby products.

A brand new investigation of vinyl rain gear by the EcoWaste Coalition found elevated levels of lead and cadmium in vinyl raincoats marketed to children. Chemicals that can permanently disrupt the brain. Shockingly, 70% of raingear they tested contained elevated levels of lead or cadmium.

This follows a similar report I authored last year which also found high levels of toxic chemicals in children’s vinyl raincoats and rain boots, including Disney branded rain gear.  This time, a Mickey Mouse raincoat contained 2,255 ppm of lead in it.

Chemical detectives.

The EcoWaste coalition, a public interest network of community, church, school, environmental and health groups based in the Philippines, used an X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometer (XRF) to test rain gear for the presence of heavy metals such as lead and cadmium. The XRF device is also able to identify products made out of PVC, as a high chlorine reading from the device indicates the product is most likely made out of vinyl (vinyl being the #1 chlorinated plastic in the world not to mention the #1 use of chlorine gas).

The organization went out and tested 33 pieces of rain gear: 25 raincoats, 5 umbrellas, and 3 pairs of rain boots. The products were purchased from discount stores at shopping malls in the Philippines.

High levels of lead and cadmium in children’s vinyl raincoats.

The group found:

“Of the 25 samples of raincoats that are mostly made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic and featuring favorite cartoon characters, 11 had lead from 292 to 15,500 ppm with the following as the five most loaded with lead:
1.  An egg yellow “Tweety” medium raincoat with 15,500 ppm
2.  Another egg yellow “Tweety” small raincoat with 14,100 ppm
3.  A light yellow “Mickey Mouse” small raincoat with 2,255 ppm
4.  A bright yellow “Yikang” two-piece large raincoat with 2,090 ppm
5.  A blue “Tasmanian Devil” raincoat with 1,753 ppm

Of these 25 raincoats, 13 were found laced with cadmium with a green “Haiyan Ben 10” extra large raincoat containing 717 ppm cadmium.

Of the five umbrellas tested, lead was detected on the “Hello Kitty” design of two mini-umbrellas at 122 ppm and 275 ppm each.

Of the three pairs of boots, “Pengi” green boots and “Panda” red boots were found laden with cadmium amounting to 398 ppm and 523 ppm, respectively.”

Children may in turn be exposed to these hazardous metals, as studies have documented they may readily leach out of vinyl children’s products. Lead and cadmium are used to “stabilize” the product.

Phthalates in vinyl raincoats and rain boots

You may think, well that’s the Philippines, surely the US government wouldn’t allow such hazardous chemicals here, right?


As I mentioned above, less than a year ago CHEJ and the Empire State Consumer Project released a report investigating hazardous chemical additives in children’s back-to-school supplies. Among the products we tested were children’s vinyl raincoats and rain boots.

Our investigation found high levels of phthalates in the rain gear we tested, at levels much higher than what’s legal for kids’ toys. But just because the products aren’t toys, it’s totally legal for industry to use them in children’s products. Insane, right?! Phthalates are considered to be endocrine disrupting chemicals, are linked to asthma and reproductive effects, and according to the federal government children face the highest exposures to these poisonous substances. It’s nothing short of outrageous!

What can we do about it?

Look, I shouldn’t have to even say this. We shouldn’t have to worry whether your children’s raincoat contains these harmful chemicals. But sadly, we do.

As consumers, the best way to avoid these hazardous substances is to not purchase vinyl rain-gear in the first place as study after study has found hazardous chemicals in and leaching from vinyl. Whether it be phthalates, lead, cadmium, organotins, or even BPA. And perhaps even worse, the entire lifecycle of vinyl is nothing short of an environmental nightmare, releasing other highly hazardous substances including vinyl chloride, ethylene dichloride, dioxins, mercury, and PCB’s.

So next time you’re out shopping for a children’s raincoat or rain boots, make sure it’s not made out of vinyl/PVC plastic. Look for rain gear promoted as PVC-free. Our Back-to-School Guide to PVC-free School Supplies is a great resource, as it features listings PVC-free rain gear and other children’s products in over 40 product categories. Also — be sure to check out our wallet-sized version for shopping on the go.

It’s time to Mind the Store.

However, we can’t just shop our way out of this problem. Enough is enough! That’s why CHEJ is part of the national Mind the Store Campaign, which is urging the top ten retailers to take action on the worst of the worst chemicals, including these very same ones.

Learn more and take action at

Backyard Talk

Fracking operation set to break ground after the state of Tennessee passes new regulation on Hydraulic Fracturing

The relatively untapped Chattanooga shale field—which runs from southern Kentucky through central Tennessee—will soon see a long awaited incursion of major gas and oil companies such as CONSOL Energy, CNX Gas and GeoMet and Atlas Energy. Tennessee’s General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Government Operations passed a series of rules on hydraulic fracking on May 22st, set to go into effect June 18th.

CONSOL Energy—which has gas leases in on rough 240,000 acres in the state–already is preparing to begin horizontal drilling in Anderson County which borders Kentucky. Soon workers will shoot gallons of water and nitrogen into the shale rock in order to release and collect the natural gas within. Some of the most glaring issues regard the notably high bar on when the rules actually apply—of which most operations will not meet due to low demand and the state’s geography.

Unlike the Marcellus shale field in Pennsylvania, Tennessee’s’ Chattanooga field is significantly shallower, which warrants less water to be used. Part of the controversy with the new rules is that public notice only applies when operations exceed 200,000 gallons of water, which is unlikely in the case of Chattanooga as significantly less water is necessary. In addition general notice of the operations themselves only is required for those living half of a mile from the site, which would excludes many.

In September local environmental groups pushed for a ban on fracking operations that would use water exceeding 200,000, the board dismissed the ban but kept 200,000 gallons as a marker for public notification. The board, at that time called the Oil and Gas Board—now merged with the Water Quality Control Board making the Board of Water Quality, Oil and Gas—ignored the cries of the groups for tighter regulations.

Serious questions have arisen about the effectiveness of the new set of rules, in assuring proper safety of local population and environment. Groups such as the Tennessee Clean Water Network and the Sierra Club’s Tennessee Chapter were less enthused. Concerns were raised by the safety of local ground water, as fracking produces significant quantities of waste water—also known as “flowback”—which contains salt, oil, grease and occasionally radioactive material depending on the location and method of fracking.

Meg Lockhart of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation contends, “Wastewater disposal is a significant issue in the Northeast where fracking occurs.  The amounts of liquid we’re dealing with in Tennessee are much, much smaller, if liquid is used at all.  But, if water in any significant quantity is used, some of it would come back up the well”. Renee Hoyos, Excecutive Director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network

It is a bit hyperbolic at this stage to assume that fracking operations in Tennessee will reach the level that of Ohio or Pennsylvania, but if gas prices resume to increase in the near future we can expect to see more and more companies expanding into previously ignored areas of the country.

Backyard Talk

A Toxic Haven for Refugee Children?

According to the Refugee Council USA, each year about 98,000 refugees enter the United States. Fleeing from war and the threat of persecution, these individuals have left their homelands to seek shelter. Leaving one threat behind, is it possible that they face a new danger in their safe haven?

Overall only about 2.6% of U.S. children aged 1-5 years have blood lead levels (BLLs) above the CDC reference level while refugee children from developing countries often have BLLs several times above the national average. According to Jean Brown, chief of the CDC’s Healthy Homes/Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch, several practices in developing countries contribute to the elevated BLLs that many refugee children have before coming to the U.S. After arriving in the U.S, high BLLs often persist due to traditional customs and because refugees often end up living in older housing with flaking lead-based paint.

Lead poisoning is extremely hazardous and is especially detrimental to the neurological development of children. According to the EPA, lead poisoning in children can result in damage to the brain and nervous system, anemia, liver and kidney damage, developmental delays, and in some cases lead poisoning can even be fatal. “Refugee kids in particular can be malnourished and anemic, and that boosts lead absorption and heightens the potential for neurological effects,” states Brown.

Many refugees may not fully understand or be aware of the danger associated with lead. Some never faced lead hazards before arriving in the U.S. The CDC found that nearly 30% of 242 refugee children in New Hampshire experienced elevated BLLs within 3-6 months of coming to the United States, although their initial screenings displayed non-elevated levels. Paul Geltman, a pediatrician with Harvard Medical School and the Cambridge Health Alliance, found that living in zip codes dominated by pre-1950s housing was associated with a 69% increase in the risk of a child’s BLL rising within 12-15 months of arrival. Clearly the housing available for many refugees poses a serious health risk.

Language barriers present another problem in communicating the issue of lead toxicity to refugees. The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Disclosure rule requires that landlords reveal lead hazards and give their new tenants the pamphlet “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home,”  published by the EPA. Although this pamphlet is available in several languages, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement discovered that many landlords only have the English version which is of no use to refugees that cannot read English.

In addition, a few herbal remedies and practices traditionally used by certain cultures intentionally contain lead. According to Tisha Titus, a physician at Federal Occupational Health in Atlanta, Georgia, states, “They’re based on recipes handed down for generations. So for a Western doctor to come in and say ‘what you’re doing can make your child sick’ isn’t going to sit well. You face a delicate balance of trying to maintain the integrity of the culture while at the same time providing a safer alternative.”

Clearly steps need to be taken in order to reduce the BLLs of refugee children. Brown says that the CDC’s lead screening for refugees is one way to confront the issue of lead hazards. Identifying high BLLs early and appropriately following up on the problem is the best way to see a timely reduction. Working to better inform parents of the serious threat that lead poses is a necessity.

For more information see:

Backyard Talk

Senator Lautenberg– A Hero

The passing today of Senator Lautenberg leaves a tremendous void on Capitol Hill. His passing will be felt for decades. He was a very courageous man, willing to take big risks and work tirelessly for issues he cared about. I met him for the first time when discussing Right-To-Know and Superfund. He was the “father of the Right –To-Know” laws while I’m often referred to as the “mother of Superfund . . . Frank and I go way back.

I think in his lasting legacy, is the bill he introduced to protect everyone from chemicals in their environment and products. The Safe Chemicals Act he authored is visionary and by far the most meaningful legislation to reform TSCA. As the Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the regulation of toxic chemicals, Senator Lautenberg held hearings and introduced his legislation which placed the burden on chemical companies to provide data to the EPA so that Americans can be assured the chemicals they are exposed to safe before they are sold and used throughout the country. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released principles for reform that closely parallel Senator Lautenberg’s legislation.

Today, I worry about who is going to bring that leadership, willingness to take huge risks and support other champion colleagues like Senator Boxer as they try to move protective policy through the senate. Senator Lautenberg was respected by all sides and was able to have meaningful conversations and at times debates on issues with friends and foes.

I remember like it was yesterday when medical waste and plastic debris washed up on the shore line in New York and New Jersey. Senator Lautenberg took the lead to ban ocean dumping of sewage and plastics, and changed federal laws to get companies to use stronger “double-hulled tankers” to prevent oil spills. He also passed vital laws that have made our air, water and land dramatically cleaner. He was a strong advocate for addressing climate change, reducing carbon pollution and putting a priority on renewable energy from solar, wind, geothermal and other sources.

Senator Lautenberg was a hero, a visionary and someone I could always count on to work toward protecting people and our environment from toxic chemicals in every way. Thank you Frank, may you rest in peace knowing that you were loved, respected and that we will continue to carry on your visionary work.

Backyard Talk

While the Keystone XL Decision Looms, a Series of New Pipelines Will Flood Ohio and Kentucky

A wave of anxiety and outrage grips Newton County, Kentucky, as a proposed natural gas pipeline would rend a path through Ohio and Kentucky. The Bluegrass Pipeline—put forward as a joint venture by Williams Companies Inc. and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LP—would carry an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 barrels a day of shale gas from western Pennsylvania to Texas, where it will likely be shipped to overseas markets; construction is expected to be completed by late 2015.

“Bluegrass would include building a new NGL pipeline to a Hardinsburg, Ky., interconnect with Boardwalk’s Texas Gas Transmission LLC system and converting a portion of Texas Gas from Hardinsburg to Eunice, La. (the TGT Loop Line) to NGL service,” Christopher Smith of the Oil and Gas Journal noted.

In addition to new pipeline infrastructure, the project would necessitate construction of additional facilities throughout the South—including a facility in Louisiana. The project would also upgrade older infrastructure incapable of handling the potential influx of Marcellus Shale gas from Pennsylvania.

“As development in the region’s Marcellus and Utica shales has ramped up, producers have found themselves stuck with an underdeveloped infrastructure that can’t yet handle processing or transporting all the oil and gas extracted here,” Erich HYPERLINK “”Schwartzel of Pittsburgh’s Post-Gazette wrote.

Much like Kentucky, Ohio has been swept up in the massive oil and gas boom. In addition to the Bluegrass Pipeline, Ohio will see the construction of the Hickory Bend cryogenic processing plant, a $150 million project developed by Pennant Midstream LLC–a joint venture of NiSource Midstream Services LLC and HilcorpHYPERLINK “” Energy.

An additional $150 million will go toward building a pipeline for Utica shale gas from western Pennsylvania to Mahoning County in eastern Ohio. The project could exceed $1 billion in the future, according to the BusinessHYPERLINK “” Journal Daily.

The feverish rush by oil and gas companies to exploit the apparently lacking infrastructure that begs for new pipelines offers an easy opportunity for companies to get in the game. Despite efforts by the aforementioned ventures to address concerns of environmental damage—Pennant Midstream LLC paved two roads in Mahoning County and claims it will use electric rather than diesel fuel– many questions remain as to what long-term effects, including leakage and explosions, both pipelines could have in Ohio and Kentucky.