community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show: We hear about the work of prison doulas who support pregnant women behind bars; An update about Japan's recovery one year after Fukushima and the Obama Administration's nuclear plans. We examine air quality impacts of the Marcellus industry, as Allegheny County's first Marcellus compressor station permit is now under review. A feature on Women of Color Herstory month with recap from the Kinks, Locks and Twists Conference and Her Voice events and more in our local and global headlines.
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Rustbelt Radio for March 12, 2012
Welcome to this week's edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of the news from the grassroots, news overlooked by the corporate media.
On today's show...
Rustbelt Radio is broadcast live from WRCT studios every other Monday at 6 PM on 88.3 FM in Pittsburgh, and the program airs again on WRCT every Tuesday morning at 9AM.
We can also be heard weekly on the following stations:
We're also available on the internet, both on WRCT's live webstream at W-R-C-T dot ORG and for download, stream or podcast from our website at radio dot I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot org.
We turn now to local stories.
The first permit in Allegheny County for a piece of Marcellus drilling infrastructure called a compressor station is now pending. Compressor stations accept gas from wells in nearby areas, remove any liquids in the gas, compress the gas, and then move it into high-pressure pipelines for transport. GASP, the Group Against Smog and Pollution, hosted a meeting to educate residents about air quality impacts from Marcellus Shale gas drilling. The meeting was focused around the compressor station, but also described the air pollution impacts the Marcellus industry as a whole will have on the region. Other areas with intensive shale gas drilling have experienced dramatic declines in air quality. Rural areas in Wyoming have smog as dense as Los Angeles; in the Dallas-Forth area, drilling causes more air pollution than motor vehicle traffic.
Under the Clean Air Act, air pollution is divided into two categories: Air Toxics, or Hazardous Air Pollutants, are compounds that are so poisonous that there is no scientifically accepted estimate for a level in the air which is low enough to be safe. "Criteria" air pollutants are those which have health effects if they exceed certain levels; these include ozone and smog-forming compounds. Compressors stations cause both kinds of pollution. GASP legal director Joe Osborne:
One of the major toxics of concern with compressor stations is formaldehyde.
However, the impacts of the Marcellus industry on air quality will extend much further than those who live near compressor stations, because the industry also releases high levels of certain criteria air pollutants that affect region-wide air quality. Nitrous oxides, or NOx and volatile organic compounds, known as VOCs combine to form ozone and smog. As the levels of NOx, ozone, and smog in the air increase, so does the frequency of respiratory illnesses such as lung cancer and asthma, and of heart disease. In fact, regional death rates increase. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania already has very high levels of air pollutants. According to the national pollution tracking website scorecard.org, Allegheny County is in the worst 10% of the country for VOCs, NOx, and other criteria air pollutants.
An individual compressor station generally creates about 1/3 of the pollution that U.S. Steel's Edgar Thompson works creates. About 55 compressor stations have already been constructed in Southwest PA, adding the equivalent of 300,000 cars’ worth of air pollution each year. However, GASP estimates that between eleven and fifteen hundred compressors are likely to be installed in Pennsylvania, which would be equivalent to adding 6.5 million cars to our roads. This figure only includes pollution from compressor stations, not well sites or other related infrastructure. Joe Osborne:
Well sites and condensate tanks also release hazardous air pollutants, putting those who live nearby at risk of acute and long-term illnesses. Wet gas is gas that contains water and liquid hydrocarbons. Wet gas produces more air and water pollution than dry gas.
Ohio and western Pennsylvania produce wet gas, while the eastern part of the state is mainly producing dry gas.
Despite these projected impacts, there is very little regulation on air pollution from Marcellus drilling. While groups like GASP are compiling estimates of the affects on our region, the DEP has no program to comprehensively measure or monitor the pollution that active well sites, compressor stations, and other Marcellus infrastructure are producing. One of the major reasons is that the individual components of drilling are each small enough that they do not receive scrutiny, and there is no legal mechanism for considering the cumulative impacts of the entire industry on a community or region.
As long as they emit less than 100 tons of any of the criteria pollutants per year, compressor stations are permitted as a “minor source” of air pollution under the federal Clean Air Act. Minor sources do not require any monitoring or reporting on emissions and trigger no regulation. By comparison, U.S. Steel’s Edgar Thompson Works creates just under 300 tons per year of NOx, and is considered as a major source under the law. It is subject to much more stringent permitting, regulation, and monitoring. Companies clearly design compressor stations with this difference in mind, as many fall just under the 100 ton limit. However, Washington County already has 9 compressor stations, which together add up to almost 900 tons of emissions per year, totaling three times the emissions of the Edgar Thompson Works.
Those attending the meeting were confused and disturbed by the information they were hearing:
Joe Osborne explains how funding cuts have undermined the capacity of the DEP to enforce even those laws which do exist:
However, Allegheny County is able to regulate air pollution locally through the Allegheny County Health Department.
GASP staff attorney Lauren Borge encouraged people to submit comments to the Allegheny County Health Department regarding the Frazer Township compressor station.
The deadline for comments is Tuesday, March 27, 2012, and a public hearing will be held the same day at 6 PM at the ACHD building in Pittsburgh. People wishing to speak at the hearing should call to register by Friday, March 23, 2012. Written copies of comments can also be submitted at the time of testimony. This report was prepared by Jessica McPherson.
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You are listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of news overlooked by the corporate media.
Do you want to see issues in your community get the attention they deserve and be heard by a broader audience? You can volunteer with Rustbelt Radio! Learn how to cover events, make stories and get them on the air and onto the internet. To contact us, email RADIO at I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot ORG or call 412 444 3569.
We turn now to other independent news from around the country and across the globe.
We turn now to a segment from the National Media Project's weekly program, Making Contact.
For most women, the way their pregnancy, labor, and recuperation is handled by the correctional system has a lot to be desired. But there are some advocates for pregnant prisoners on the outside, working hard to provide access to those behind bars. Making Contact’s production intern, Shaunnah Ray, brings us this story about The Birth Attendants-Prison Doula Project, who offer their services at the Washington Correctional Center For Women, in Olympia Washington.
* PrisonDoula-MakingContact.flac: (9:30)
That was a segment from Making Contact's, "The Light Inside: Giving Birth Behind Bars," a production of the National Radio Project. The program is distributed to non-commercial radio stations and online listeners without charge. For more on Making Contact, visit www [dot] radioproject [dot] org.
March 11 marks one year since the Fukushima reactor in Japan was swamped by a tsunami, knocking out the cooling systems, and causing a series of explosions. A large area is still off-limits to the local people, with about 100,000 residents unable to return home.
We now hear an interview with Arnold Gunderson, who just returned from a visit to Japan. Arnold Gunderson is a former nuclear power industry executive, and critic of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant which has a similar design to the Fukushima reactor.
You have been listening to Arnold Gunderson, former nuclear power industry executive and an expert witness at the Three Mile Island incident, speaking after a recent visit to Japan about Fukushima one year later.
While the world’s eyes are on Japan’s recovery from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Americans are focusing their attention to Augusta, Georgia where two nuclear reactor permits were approved in February, less than one year since Fukushima.
These reactors are the first to be approved since the 1978 Three Mile Island meltdown in Pennsylvania.
President Obama has already promised 8.3 billion in tax-funded loan guarantees towards the 14 billion cost of the proposed reactors.
To keep up to date with further developments in the nuclear renaissance here at home, stay tuned to Rustbelt Radio.
This story was written by Seth Bearden with audio from Redeye Co-op Radio in Vancouver BC.
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of news from the grassroots.
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February 15th until March 15th is celebrated by New Voices Pittsburgh, Women of Color for Reproductive Justice as Women of Color Herstory month. Taking the second half of Black History Month and the first half of Women’s History Month, this time is to devoted to the [quote] celebration of culture, legacy and achievements of women of color in the greater Pittsburgh region, across the country and around the world [end quote].
New Voices Pittsburgh organized several events to highlight the 5th annual Women of Color Herstory month, including the Kinks, Locks and Twists: Environmental and Reproductive Justice Conference, which took place on March 3rd at the Kingsley Association in Larimer. Every year for the past five years this conference has been a place to explore intersections and participate in conversations on the connections between [quote] beauty, culture, policy, media and the economy to personal environment, behavior change and community development [end quote].
The day began with a gathering of the conference participants in the lobby around drumming, as was just played, by Toni McClendon and LaVerne Baker Hotep, and libation, a paying of homage to the ancestors and a request for them to bless the participants.
Bekezela Mguni, an organizer with New Voices Pittsburgh, then gave a little herstory of how the conference came to be and its purpose:
And now LaTasha Mayes, founder and Executive Director of New Voices on what reproductive justice is before sending conference go-ers to their workshops
Organized in collaboration with the Ujamaa Collective, the Urban Green Growth Collaborative and the EVE project, the conference featured workshops led mostly by local women of color on issues like energy conservation, non-toxic beauty care and healing history and practices.
After lunch, Jacqui Patterson, the Director of the NAACP’s Climate Justice Initiative spoke to the crowd of around 75 about the initiative and the affect of race on environmental justice and opportunities. In this clip she is sharing one of the stories she’s heard from an African American women which exemplifies the disproportionate environmental health issues affecting people of color in this country
The conference ended with local performer, educator and activist, Dr. Goddess speaking about her natural hair journey and the importance of promotion for entrepreneurs through social media outlets. You can read more about her at DR GODDESS DOT COM.
On our next show we'll bring you excerpts from another celebratory event entitled Her Voice: Stories and Tales of Women of Color, featuring local art and poetry.
Wrapping up the Women of Color Herstory Month of 2012 is the Living our Legacy 8th Anniversary Celebration and Fundraiser for New Voices Pittsburgh, which will be from 7-9 pm at the Kaufman Center in the Hill District. This event will feature the Brown Girls Burlesque. For more on this event, Women of Color Herstory month, or New Voices Pittsburgh in general, you can visit WOMEN OF COLOR HERSTORY MONTH DOT ORG.
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
[ Outro Music ]
Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WIUP Indiana, WNJR Washington, WLRI LanChester, and FRSC Santa Cruz.
Our hosts this week are [Emily Laychak] and [Laura Miller] with contributions from [Lizzie Anderson, Seth Bearden, Emily DeMarco, Amos Levy, Jessica McPherson, and Hannah Taleb. Thanks to Making Contact for the segment from "The Light Inside: Giving Birth Behind Bars"]. This week's show was produced by Shawn Watson. Special thanks to all of our hosts, producers, and contributors.
You can get involved with Rustbelt Radio in a number of ways! Do you want to volunteer to record local events that interest you, write stories, edit audio, or learn show production? To contact us, email RADIO at I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot ORG or call 412 444 3569.
You can also become our fan on Facebook to receive updates on our latest episode, and follow us on Twitter @pghimc. All of our shows are available on our website at RADIO dot INDY-P-G-H dot ORG and this show can be heard again Tuesday morning on WRCT at 9 AM after Democracy Now!
Tune in next week at this time for another edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of news from the grassroots.