COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Development told Ohio Citizen Action on Wednesday afternoon, September 29, that the department has no records of the Columbiana County Port Authority applying for an extension of its $4.5 million loan for the Baard Energy coal refinery project. Florence Murray, an official in the state agency’s legal department, provided this information in response to a public records request from Caherine Turcer, director of Ohio Citizen Action’s Money in Politics Project. The state loan offer is due to expire today, and some local media outlets have reported, apparently erroneously, that the state has already granted an extension to the end of the year.
There are several possibilities of what is really going on here:
1) Neither the Port Authority nor Baard Energy has been able to produce information that shows that Baard has a chance of receiving financing from “legitimate groups” and they will miss today’s deadline.
2) Baard and the Port Authority assume they will submit the extension request at the very last minute and will assume that the State will rubber-stamp the request. This would mean that the State would not be able to do any due diligence to investigate whatever claims of “legitimate” financing are made.
According to legal agreements the Port Authority made with local landowners, the Port Authority must pay $200,000 by today to extend the purchase agreements until the end of the year. Port Authority Director Tracy Drake has previously stated that money for the extensions would have to come from Baard Energy. Baard has already left a trail of unpaid bills to major contractors on this project.
COLUMBUS — “The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Heartland Refinery in Columbus with one alleged serious safety violation for failing to control the release of flammable liquids and vapors resulting in a July 17, 2010, fire at the facility. The refinery also has been cited with two repeat violations for problems that existed in March 2010 and were found in July 2010 not to have been corrected, as well as one failure-to-abate violation first brought to the company’s attention by OSHA in 2009. Proposed penalties total $68,900.
‘Failing to follow proper procedures to prevent the unintentional release of flammable vapors and liquids in an area where a known ignition source exists creates a serious safety risk to workers, and as this case shows, a high risk of fire in the workplace,’ said OSHA Area Director Deborah Zubaty in Columbus. ‘There is no excuse for this type of complacency, and OSHA will do all it can to protect employees in the workplace.’
The fire occurred when a flange or fitting in the process area failed to contain flammable liquids, which then leaked to an ignition source. The serious violation carries a penalty of $4,900. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm can result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.”
— Rhonda Burke and Scott Allen, OSHA Region 5 news release
Greenpeace activists unfurl a banner on the front of the Seebach Hilton Hotel in Louisville Tuesday.
LOUISVILLE, KY — “Dozens of citizens, activists and energy and manufacturing workers responded to the federal government’s call Tuesday for input on proposed regulations of ash produced by coal-fired power plants.
The Environmental Protection Agency hosted an all-day public comment hearing Tuesday in Louisville…
Rachael Belz, a member of Ohio Citizen Action, said the EPA should have acted more swiftly after the Tennessee disaster.
‘It’s truly unbelievable to me that even after the devastation at the TVA plant that the EPA is just now getting ready to propose regulations,’ said Belz, who lives in Cincinnati. ‘These regulations need to be strict, they need to be enforceable, and they need to start now.’”
MARTINSVILLE, VA — “Martinsville City Council on Tuesday decided on the scope of work for a new power advisory committee but postponed appointing people to the panel.
The committee will examine information from various sources pertaining to a natural gas-fired power plant proposed for construction in Meigs County, Ohio, by American Municipal Power (AMP). It then will make a recommendation on whether Martinsville should participate in the project.”
CINCINNATI — “Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest maker of consumer products, plans to take long-term steps to cut waste and energy use at its plants and offices around the world, including eventually powering all its factories with renewable energy.
P&G on Monday announced a long-term environmental plan, which it said could take decades to achieve, but will be measured by nearer-term goals.
The plan includes running all its plants solely on renewable energy, using only recycled materials in its packaging and reducing its landfill waste to near zero.”
WELLSVILLE, OH — “Word spread fast that John Baardson, owner & president of Baard Energy is the key-note speaker. The Chamber’s Randy Allmon said Mr. Baardson will be speaking on Baard’s proposed coal-to-liquid plant for the Wellsville area.
That proposed plant has been in the works for nearly three years now. It is expected to cost in excess of $6 billion and take three to four years to complete. The company got all their EPA permits lined up and then the national economy took a nose dive making it difficult to line up financing. Initial ground breaking has been steadily postponed for that reason and from environmentalist’s concerns. They hurdled the challenges of the tree huggers and according to sources from other corners it is expected Mr. Baardson will have some good news to give us.”
WASHINGTON, DC — “About 100 people were arrested Monday outside the White House while protesting against mountaintop removal mining, temporarily trading their freedom for a chance to highlight what they consider an environmental calamity…
Among those arrested was climate scientist James Hansen, who issued a statement saying that mountaintop removal ‘destroys historic mountain ranges, poisons water supplies and pollutes the air with coal and rock dust.’
‘Mountaintop removal, providing only a small fraction of our energy, can and should be abolished. The time for half measures and caving in to polluting industries must end,’ Hansen said.”
Dr. Erin Haynes speaks to Mid-Ohio Valley residents Monday about a study on manganese pollution.
VIENNA, WV — “An ongoing study on the health effects of airborne manganese on Mid-Ohio Valley children is expanding to include Wood County participants.
Erin Haynes, assistant professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati, spoke to about 50 Mid-Ohio Valley residents Monday at the Vienna Public Library about the multi-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health…
Interest in the study began in the 1990s, when Washington County resident Caroline Beidler built her dream home in the woods about four miles from the Eramet plant. After noticing a strong industrial odor, she contacted the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and starting a letter-writing campaign to the plant’s management, which, she said, was unwilling to meet with Beidler at the time.
She organized Neighbors For Clean Air, a group of citizens who wanted answers. Since then, Eramet has opened the lines of communication and began a multi-million dollar renovation project to improve the plant, Beidler said.”
COLUMBUS — This fall Ohio Citizen Action will present Larry Gibson and Chuck Nelson with the 2010 Enduring Courage Award at our 35th Anniversary Event in Columbus. This award is to recognize community activists who have exemplified unwavering courage in fighting for their communities.
Born in West Virginia, Larry Gibson moved to Cleveland as a child. After working for General Motors for 16 years, Gibson returned to his roots in West Virginia in 1985. Upon returning to his family’s land in Kayford, Gibson was faced with the hostile dismantling of Kayford Mountain by mountaintop removal coal mining.
Since then, Gibson has devoted his life to educating people about the atrocity that is mountaintop removal coal mining, and motivating them to speak out against it. He has hosted activists, politicians, and celebrities, such as Kathy Mattea and Robert Kennedy Jr., at his home on Kayford Mountain, so that they may see the destruction of mountaintop removal first hand. Since starting his work, Gibson has been joined by other activists and local and national organizations to stop mountaintop removal. Their efforts have slowed the permitting of mountaintop removal mining sites, and have gained the most public and political support for a ban on mountaintop removal ever. Larry is the founder of Keepers of the Mountains.
Raised in Sylvester, West Virginia, Chuck Nelson is a retired under ground coal miner who worked for Massey Energy. Nelson spent a year on the picket line as a union miner when Massey Energy refused to allow union miners to work. After being forced into retirement, Nelson has dedicated his life to stopping mountaintop removal coal mining.
Along with his friend Larry Gibson, Nelson has traveled around the country to educate people on the irreparable damage of mountaintop removal coal mining. Along with this work, Nelson has fought for the abolition of slurry injections and slurry impoundments-the process of injecting coal waste into old mine shafts or into dams, both of which contaminate drinking water supplies at put communities at risk for flooding.
Citizens Against Coal Ash rally in downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday, September 22.
PITTSBURGH – “Bob Kincaid of Chester died of a rare form of melanoma in December of 2005. He was just 50 years old.
His family is convinced the melanoma, which started under his fingernails and was not related to exposure to the sun, was a direct result of his 30 years working as a mechanic at the Bruce Mansfield power plant at Shippingport, Pa., and in and around the plant’s coal ash impoundment, known as “Little Blue.”
His daughter, Emily Kincaid, now 26 and living in East Liverpool, told her family’s story Wednesday to the federal Environmental Protection Agency panel during hearings on coal ash, and again later to a CNN crew.
The stories of 40 area families were relayed to the EPA Wednesday during the hearings in the ballroom at the Omni William Penn Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. About 20 read their statements about living near Little Blue, urging the EPA to classify coal ash as a hazardous material.”
WASHINGTON, DC — “In many developing countries, the absence of surface-based air pollution sensors makes it difficult, and in some cases impossible, to get even a rough estimate of the abundance of a subcategory of airborne particles that epidemiologists suspect contributes to millions of premature deaths each year. The problematic particles, called fine particulate matter (PM2.5), are 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, about a tenth the fraction of human hair. These small particles can get past the body’s normal defenses and penetrate deep into the lungs.
To fill in these gaps in surface-based PM2.5 measurements, experts look toward satellites to provide a global perspective.”
PITTSBURGH, PA — “On Tuesday, local residents took their fight against coal ash in front of federal officials, pleading for more regulations. But power officials are pushing back, saying stricter rules could cost local jobs.
Many Hancock County residents have said First Energy is dumping the dangerous cancer-causing material in their back yards at the Little Blue Run impoundment in Greene Township.
Now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering stricter regulations and two ways of regulating coal ash. Prior to making its decision, the agency is holding public hearings nationwide.
Hundreds of people packed into the Omni William Penn Hotel on Tuesday for one such hearing, and the feelings were fierce. ‘Would you feed this to your children? Arsenic? Would you put this on their food? I brought you blackberry ginger syrup. I want you to think, would you put this on your crepes?’ said Elisa Young, of Meigs County, Ohio.”
PITTSBURGH, PA — “As the last of the Citizens Against Coal Ash (CACA) members boarded a bus for home Tuesday afternoon, the group erupted into cheers.
About 20 residents from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio made the trip to testify about the effects of coal ash from FirstEnergy Corp.’s Shippingport plant coal ash impoundment before the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
‘Everything went well, and we had a very good presence,’ said Roni Kampmeyer, community organizer for CACA. ‘I understand we were the largest citizen group there. It will be interesting to see the feedback we get.’”
VIENNA, WV — “A University of Cincinnati researcher will present additional findings about the air quality in the region Monday at the Vienna Public Library.
Erin Haynes of the University of Cincinnati will discuss her preliminary findings on the effects of heavy metals such as manganese, lead and chromium polluting the air of the Mid-Ohio Valley 7 p.m. Monday in the library’s meeting room…
Haynes is an assistant professor of environmental health at UC and has been leading a multi-year study of the effects of airborne manganese, lead and chromium on 7-to-8-year-old children in the vicinity of Eramet’s Marietta plant. Eramet is a major producer of manganese, ferroalloys and ranks first among the nation’s emitters of manganese, which blows across the Ohio River into Wood County.”
Letters to Senator Sherrod Brown and Senator Rob Portman
6,615 members have sent handwritten letters and petitions to Senator Brown urging him to support US EPA rules that will protect our health from polluting coal plants as of January 24, 2012.
3,751 members have petitioned Senator Portman urging him to support US EPA rules that will protect our health from polluting coal plants as of January 24, 2012.
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