Media Releases

FrackFree Mahoning Valley schedules April 26 media event

FrackFree Mahoning Valley schedules April 26 media event

By BOB DOWNING Published: April 26, 2016

From a Monday press release:

Frackfree Mahoning Valley (FMV) Will Hold A Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 1:15 PM Press Conference in Youngstown’s Mill Creek Park To React to Comments Made By Ohio Department of Natural Resources Officials Regarding Utica Shale Fracking, And To Present Recently Received Troubling Documents Regarding Spills in Mahoning County:

Geology Professor, Dr. Ray Beiersdorfer and Concerned Citizens of Vienna and Mahoning County Will Speak Briefly To Provide Updated Local, Man-made Earthquake And Fracking Waste Injection Well Information, And To Answer Media Questions

All Media Are Invited To Attend

Youngstown, Ohio, April 25, 2016 – Concerned citizens of Frackfree Mahoning Valley (FMV) will hold a press conference in Youngstown, Ohio, on the public sidewalk in front of Mill Creek Park’s “D.D. and Velma Davis Education & Visitor Center” in Fellows Riverside Gardens on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, at 1:15 PM, to give their reaction to statements made by Ohio Department of Natural Resources(ODNR) officials at an event to be held at Mill Creek Park on Tuesday. (The address of Fellows Riverside Gardens is 123 McKinley Avenue, Youngstown, Ohio, 44509.)
At their press conference, FMV will distribute and discuss troubling, newly received Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) well inspection documents.  Speakers will provide recent information and concerns about local fracking waste injection wells and the potential for more injection-well related, man-made earthquakes and their risks to public health, safety and well-being.
Teresa Mills of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) recently received the ODNR documents (copies of which will be distributed at the press conference) as part of an Ohio Open Records request.
According to the Vindicator, ODNR Chief Simmers will address “… recent advancements in the regulation and production of the Utica Shale.”  (Vindicator, 4/10/16, “ODNR official at event”)
Frackfree Mahoning Valley says ODNR promotes unconventional fracking, a process which results in the constant creation of millions of gallons of toxic fracking waste. There is no good or safe solution to the problem of where all of this waste will go.  This enormous waste problem cannot be ignored especially considering our local history of negative impacts that have already occurred in Youngstown and the surrounding area. FMV points out that we are situated in an area of known seismic activity, therefore, injection wells must be stopped.
On Tuesday, FMV will call for ODNR to deny an injection permit for a recently drilled Vienna injection well near a family home and the Youngstown-Warren Regional airport. The group says two Weathersfield/Niles injection wells already linked to earthquakes must remain shut down.
Frackfree Mahoning Valley says that they do not have confidence in ODNR fracking or injection well regulations, especially in light of local and national spills, man-made earthquakes, and air, water, and soil pollution. They do not trust so-called “advancements” in regulations to protect public health, safety, and well-being, since, even though there were allegedly “strict” regulations already in place, they failed to prevent the 2015 Vienna injection well fiasco where extensive water contamination still occurred despite rules and regulations.
Furthermore, local fracking and injection well – related earthquakes still occurred with regulations already in place. Regulations failed to prevent man-made earthquakes in Weathersfield/Niles, Youngstown, and Poland Township. FMV wonders whether the injection wells in North Lima, also too near homes, will be the next to trigger earthquakes.  Obviously, earthquakes cannot be regulated. It is wrong for regulators to pretend that they can control earthquakes. Injection must stop.
FMV says the unprecedented increase in induced seismicity in Oklahoma could be a preview of what might happen locally if Ohio regulators stay on their current path, i.e., permitting more and more injection wells, which is making Ohio essentially a toxic fracking waste dump and risking more water contamination and earthquakes. This is unacceptable.
Geologist Ray Beiersdorfer, Ph.D., Professor of Geology at Youngstown State University, will give a brief statement at the press conference and address any media questions. Concerned citizens of Mahoning County and Vienna, Ohio, will give brief presentations and be available for any media questions afterward.
Copies of documents will be provided for media.
All media are invited to attend.
For more information, please see:
Frackfree Mahoning Valley:
For media inquiries or more information, please contact Frackfree Mahoning Valley at:
234-201-0402   or  e-mail:
Read the release on

News Archive

Clean water crisis threatens US

UnknownThe United States is on the verge of a national crisis that could mean the end of clean, cheap water.

Hundreds of cities and towns are at risk of sudden and severe shortages, either because available water is not safe to drink or because there simply isn’t enough of it.
The situation has grown so dire the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence now ranks water scarcity as a major threat to national security alongside terrorism.The problem is being felt most acutely in the West, where drought conditions and increased water use have helped turn lush agricultural areas to dust.
But dangers also lurk underground, in antiquated water systems that are increasingly likely to break down or spread contaminants like lead.
The crisis gripping Flint, Mich., where the water supply has been rendered undrinkable, is just a preview of what’s to come in towns and cities nationwide, some warn.
“We are billions of dollars behind where we could and should be,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), who spent 12 years on a municipal water board before running for state office. “People in the clean-water world would tell you they’ve been shouting about this for a long time.”
“For much of the U.S., most people don’t perceive any shortage,” he added. “But we’re going to talk a lot about shortages now.”
Read more from the Hill
Backyard Talk

EPA Switches Stance on Testing Lead in Drinking Water

The fiasco in Flint, MI has forced an important change in EPA’s recommended protocols for testing lead in drinking water. In a memo to state health and water administrators issued February 29, 2016, the US EPA reversed its prior recommendations on how to sample drinking water targeted for lead testing. The new protocols are as follows:

  • Do not remove or clean faucet aerators prior to collecting samples
  • Do not pre-flush prior to sampling
  • Use wide mouth sample bottles to allow water flow to enter at a rate similar to what consumers might use when pouring a glass of water to drink

In the past, EPA‘s advice was to pre-clean the aerator, flush pipes prior to sampling, and open the tap slowly and sample at low flow. Using these guidelines results in less particulate lead getting into the sample and thus finding lower lead concentrations in the water. Removing or cleaning an aerator prior to testing masks the added contribution of lead at the tap that results from the lead in the aerator. Flushing the pipe prior to sampling eliminates the lead that has built up overnight or since the last time the faucet was used. Pouring the water slowly, whether by using a narrow container or by just opening the tap slowly, also reduces particulate lead that gets into the water by not disturbing lead present in the pipe as much as a normal flush would. These inaccurate procedures were called to task by Dr. Marc Edwards from Virginia Tech University who found high levels of lead in the drinking water in Flint, MI.
Despite the fact that this is not what people typically do when they pour a glass of water from the sink to drink, these are the sampling procedures that EPA has been advocating for years and what water companies have been using for years to measure lead in drinking water. By using these procedures, water companies everywhere, not just in Flint, are not accurately measuring the lead concentration in drinking water, and they are potentially missing a significant portion of the lead actually in the drinking water systems. Doing this provides a false sense of security that seriously endangers public health.
Although EPA has issued these new guidelines, there’s no guarantee that water companies around the country have switched to the new sampling procedures. If you’re concerned about the lead levels in your water, find out what sampling procedures are being used because it makes a huge difference. While we can thank the public attention given to the disaster in Flint for this critically important change, now we need to make sure that testing agencies across the country follow this new protocol. Contact CHEJ at to obtain a copy of this important memo.

News Archive

A year of fear and distrust in Dukeville

unknownDUKEVILLE, North Carolina — Deborah Graham’s life changed on April 18, 2015, with the arrival of a letter.
Graham was in the kitchen, pouring a cup of coffee. Her husband, Marcelle, opened a large certified envelope just dropped off by the mail carrier.
“The North Carolina Division of Public Health recommends that your well water not be used for drinking and cooking,” the letter said.
“What did you just say?” Graham asked, incredulous.
“The water’s contaminated,” her husband replied.
Graham’s eyes flew to her kitchen faucet. She thought about the coffee she’d just swallowed. The food she’d cooked and sent over to her church. The two children she’d raised in this house.
She dumped the rest of her coffee down the sink.
The ordinary routines of the Graham household had been disrupted by vanadium, which can cause nausea, diarrhea and cramps. In animal studies, vanadium has caused decreased red blood cell counts, elevated blood pressure and neurological effects.
While the element is found in Earth’s crust, it’s also one of several metals found in coal ash—the toxic leftover waste from burning coal.
State officials had discovered vanadium in the Graham’s well water at an estimated concentration of 14 parts per billion, more than 45 times the state screening level of 0.3 ppb—a threshold set by health officials to warn well owners of potential risks.
And the Grahams weren’t alone. Laboratory tests showed 74 wells in the tiny Dukeville community in Salisbury, North Carolina, exceeded state or federal thresholds. Across the state, 424 households received similar do-not-drink notifications, Department of Environmental Quality Assistant Secretary Tom Reeder said in January.
Most letters cited either vanadium or hexavalent chromium, the chemical compound made famous by activist Erin Brockovich, who discovered it had tainted water in Hinkley, California. Hexavalent chromium is carcinogenic when inhaled or swallowed in drinking water, and another metal often found in coal ash.
Read more from Environmental Health News

Backyard Talk

The Movement’s Future: Teaching Our Kids about Environmental Justice

At the beginning of March representatives for CHEJ, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and Just Moms STL protested outside EPA Headquarters in DC to draw attention to the radioactive waste fire endangering children near the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, Missouri. One of the more memorable parts of the protest occurred when children at the rally took the megaphone and began leading chants. However, as powerful as that moment was, it can be difficult to know how to introduce children to the topics of environmental justice and environmental racism. How soon is too soon to teach them about these topics? How much information should be covered? Where should we begin?
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (part of the NIH) website hosts kid-friendly webpages that can help adults explain complex subjects like environmental justice (EJ). The webpage boils EJ down to a simple, but important definition: “Environmental Justice is a new term that simply means making sure that everyone has a fair chance of living the healthiest life possible.” It explains environmental risks and uses the concept of “fairness” to help kids identify environmental justice issues and contextualize examples in their day-to-day lives.
Online teaching resources include lesson plans to introduce EJ topics in the classroom. One accessible activity from had the facilitator hand out wrapped candy as well as two different colors of cards. After the students eat their candy, everyone with a red card gives their trash to someone with a blue card and that person has to hold onto the trash. This activity is meant to spark a conversation about fairness, privilege, and, depending on the group, environmental racism.
In addition to classroom activities, books and youtube videos can be great conversation starters. A Mighty Girl recommends numerous environmental books about environmental heroesinnovation, and revitalization. Youtube videos can present some intimidating facts, but introduce environmental justice well, and many videos like this one by Kid President show kids that they can make a difference.
Though teaching children about difficult topics like environmental justice and environmental racism can seem challenging, the resources available can make these important conversations easier. They can help us frame these topics in a way that isn’t hopeless, a way that empowers children to truly be the change they wish to see in the world. So let’s embrace the challenge and bring children into these conversations; otherwise we’ll never know what insight they may have. Let’s start cultivating the future leaders of our movement.

Backyard Talk

Fracking Waste and Drinking Water: A Toxic Combo

Fracking OH(Originally published in Rooflines) Environmentalists have succeeded in making fracking, renewable energy, safe water, and climate change part of the presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are doubling down on who is more pro-environment—especially who is more vehemently against fracking. But some Republican politicians are promoting the old “burn baby burn,” drill it up, and damn the torpedoes sentiment of the thoroughly-trounced McCain/Palin ticket.
Meanwhile, important policy decisions about energy, oil, gas, and the generating of electricity are being made every day. Decisions about whether more cross-country pipelines should be built, or what is the proper way to dispose of coal ash have a huge effect on rural and low income communities.
A pressing issue in recent weeks is what to do with the waste products that result from hydrofracking. Fracking wastewater, which is brought to the surface after drilling and fracking a well, contains potentially harmful levels of dangerous contaminants, including heavy metals, carcinogens, and radioactive materials.
The oil and gas industry wants to ship toxic fracking waste down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, major sources for drinking water in the Midwest. Three million people get their drinking water from the Ohio River, and 18 million people from the Mississippi River. Millions upon millions of gallons of this waste is being generated every year, especially in Pennsylvannia, and the fracking industry wants to use barges to transport the toxic waste to downriver dump sites in Ohio, Louisiana, and Texas.
In late February, frontline community groups were outraged to learn that the U.S. Coast Guard has decided to use 40-year-old regulations that don’t address hydraulic fracking waste. Barges carry almost 60 times as many gallons of wastewater as trucks. A shipping accident would release thousands of gallons of toxic contaminants directly into waterways. Such a spill would be nearly impossible to clean up, putting the drinking water of millions of Americans at risk.
The Coast Guard says it will allow these shipments on a “case-by-case” basis, but has set up the process to be as opaque as possible. Citizens, local governments, and even water providers will not be allowed to know what is on the barges.
Local groups like Buckeye Forest Council are asking the Coast Guard to immediately ban fracking waste shipments on our nation’s waterways as a long term solution to keep our drinking water safe. The Council believes that the Coast Guard is abandoning its policy, which would have required laboratory analysis and identification of fracked oil and gas drilling waste before shipping. Several groups are working to get their voice heard through petitions and letters to the Coast Guard.
One wonders: with all the concern for and genuine harm that the residents of Flint, MI, Hoosick, NY and the schoolchildren of Newark, and Ithaca are experiencing from unsafe drinking water, how can the Coast Guard respond with such a tin ear? This certainly seems like a gross dereliction of the sacred duty of the Coast Guard to defend our nation’s waterways.

Backyard Talk


A recent Gallup poll revealed that 51% of Americans are now not in favor of fracking. Although there are many reasons why, I want to focus on one factor – communities across the county raising their voices in opposition.
Here are the numbers: In March 2016, 36% of those polled favored fracking while 51% opposed fracking. Compare those numbers to last year when it was a dead heat 40% in favor and 40% opposed t fracking. Moreover, when you look at political parties you see similar trends especially in the Republican Party. In 2016, the number of republicans in favor of fracking was 55% compared to 66% the year before. Democrats and independents were about the same for both years.
Thanks to what Mark Ruffalo calls the “fighters,” people in the street, we are slowly moving public opinion away from extracting oil and gas through the fracking process. Leaders throughout our network have made great strides in educating the public about negative public health and environmental impacts.
Almost daily you read an article or hear a story on the radio about the most recent crisis created by the fracking related infrastructure. Just last week there was a story about yet another earthquake in Canada due to an injection well where under great pressure, fracking waste is injected deep into the earth.
According to a recent U.S. Geological Survey there are 7 million Americans at risk of experiencing earthquakes in the central U.S. alone.
Since 2008, the number of trains carrying oil has increased over 5,000%. Not surprisingly, there’s been an associated increase in spills, fires, explosions from derailments. More oil was spilled from trains in 2013 than in the previous 40 years combined.  There were six such accidents just last year in West Virginia, North Dakota, Montana and two in Ontario, Canada.
At every well head, rail line, waterway, pipeline, compressor station and so on people are standing up and saying NO. There are people pointing out the damage as it unfolds in front of them of health, water, air and the social costs. It is the courage and strength of communities nationwide that is changing Americans opinion about fracking and associated damage.
In New York State, it was courageous leaders across the state who succeeded in stopping, at least for now, any fracking operations in the state. Hundreds of thousands of people raised their voice and stood up against great odds to win that fight.
Due to this massive education of the American people about the serious problems of oil and gas extraction, not only is opposition growing but alternatives are being look at more favorably. In March another Gallup poll found that 73% of Americans prefer emphasizing alternative energy, rather than gas and oil production as the solution to our country’s energy problems. This is the highest percentage since the question was first asked in 2011.
I’ve worked with groups across the country on these issues and I am so proud to be part of this network of activists. I want to take this opportunity to say thank you and let’s continue to work together to keep the polling numbers moving in the direction of opposition.

News Archive

How Pope Francis helped awaken a deep religious tradition for care for the environment

Mark Stoll, Washington Post.
Stoll recently wrote a column about the Pope’s support for environmental issues and the Catholic tradition for environmental justice, citing CHEJ’s founder Lois Gibbs as “the first Catholic to become nationally known for environmental activism.”
Just about every person who led and shaped the American conservation and early environmental movements grew up Protestant. What irony, then, that the one person who has done more to get people talking about the environment than anyone in decades is the supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis.
Every pope since Paul VI has addressed environmental issues, but Francis’s encyclical this summer made many people aware for the first time of a Catholic concern for the environment. Even dedicated environmentalists might have a hard time naming a major Catholic environmentalist.
The average person could probably more easily name the seven Catholic Republican presidential candidates, who deny or downplay environmental problems like climate change.
Up through the 19th century, Protestant ministers wrote most of the great works about nature as the creation of God. The pantheon of great heroes of environmentalism is thoroughly Protestant — Henry David Thoreau, Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, David Brower, Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey. Exceptions have generally been Jewish, like Paul Ehrlich or Michael Pollan.
Francis’s encyclical framed global warming and environmental issues in a very Catholic way, in terms of their injustice to the poor. Since Vatican II in the 1960s, the Catholic Church has made social justice central to its teaching. It’s no accident, then, that the environmental justice movement is exactly where Catholics have participated most enthusiastically in American environmentalism.
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Pope Francis is actually bringing America’s environmentalism movement to its religious and moral roots]
The deeply devout Cesar Chavez might be said to have been the first major Catholic environmental leader in the late 1960s and 1970s, when his farm worker movement protested workers’ exposure to agricultural chemicals.
But the first Catholic to become nationally known for environmental activism was Lois Gibbs. Developers had built Love Canal, her neighborhood in Niagara Falls, N.Y., on top of 20,000 tons of buried toxic waste. Horrific health problems, especially for children, finally made headlines in 1978.
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