Keep calm and don’t over-react

In the wake of a gas pipeline explosion that forced members of a Noble County family from their homes, national environmental organizations seized the opportunity to call for decommissioning all gas pipelines in the region.

One wonders how those representing organizations such as Beyond Dirty Fuels believe some of the people living in places like Monroe and Noble counties would be able to afford to heat their homes, do their laundry, take a warm bath or cook their food, without natural gas.

But that kind of concern is beneath them. The wellbeing of the people who would be most affected is not even on their list of priorities — though they certainly don’t mind trying to frighten those people by stirring a pot they brought with them.

“Unfortunately all we got yesterday was the runaround and were never told if the Ohio EPA was even on site doing air sampling,” said Cheryl Johncox, an organizer with Beyond Dirty Fuels and the Sierra Club. (One would assume if there were Ohio EPA representatives onsite, they had better things to do than deal with her, at that moment.)

“There are many studies showing that when these lines burst and unprocessed gas is released there are also known carcinogens released.”

Noble County Emergency Management Agency Director Chasity Schmelzenbach was quick to remind local residents to use a little common sense and not give in to the attempt to create panic.

“Instead I’d encourage people to have an awareness of what’s running through their property lines and to read the packets the companies that own those lines send out,” she said. “Those tell you the symptoms and things to look out for if there could be a break or leak and they give you the phone numbers to call in an emergency outside of 911. Open that envelope and read it, instead of treating it like junk mail.”

In other words, don’t bury your heads in the sand, but don’t turn into Chicken Little, either.

Companies whose gas flows through lines criss-crossing our region know they have work to do. They have to do right by the families affected right now, but they also have to tend to their aging infrastructure for the sake of all local families.

Meanwhile, activists such as John Cox might better serve their alleged missions by avoiding the use of whatever dirty fuels are necessary to get them to the locations of the accidents they try to exploit.