In an open meeting at the Limestone Volunteer Fire Department on August 29th, filmmaker Mark Dixon, an advocate for NoPetroPa, spoke to nearly 100 citizens about the impact petrochemical plants would have on our area. He warned that although the massive ethane cracker plant in Beaver County is providing work for thousands now, when operations begin, CO2 emissions will rise to high levels.

How will that affect us? This past June, Pennsylvania Northwest Commission (NWC) representatives and their partners presented their findings from a study conducted by Camoin 310 and CEC Planning (economic planning consultants) on the opportunities that petrochemical supply chains present to our region. According to Lance Hummer, Executive Director of the Keystone Community Education Council, “Western Pennsylvania is on the verge of having the lowest cost raw material feedstock for plastics on the face of the planet.”

Years ago, as a reaction against a proposed toxic waste incinerator for Clarion County, people downwind in Jefferson County rose in protest. They succeeded and today our air is clean. No incinerator exists in our neighboring county.

Years ago the Clarion River was polluted. Then in 1968 the Water and Scenic Rivers Act motivated a massive effort to restore it to its former beauty began. This year Pennsylvanians declared it the “River of the Year,” and today its waters are clean.

Today once again Western Pennsylvania may be on the verge of poisoning its water and air.

The solution? According to Dixon, he is encouraged by the rise of “no plastics” and “no petrochemicals” activism, and suggests building coalitions that will push for green manufacturing and green chemistry. People need to figure out how to make what people need and use in a healthy way.

It is time, once again, to rise up and protect our air and water.

– Carole A. Briggs, Brookville

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