Crystal Yost has been on a crusade the past three years to educate the public about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas.
And after moving back to Geneseo last year from Pittsburgh, where her problems began, she is busy speaking out about the issue here. She is the Illinois field organizer for Moms Clean Air Force, a national organization with 600,000 members. She said there are 30,000 members in Illinois and 4,000 in Iowa. She is trying to start a Quad-City chapter.
Yost was among speakers Sunday at Metropolitan Community Church of the Quad-Cities during an event designed to unite concerned parents and community members with doctors and faith leaders to discuss children’s health in the Midwest. In particular, the group of about 25 discussed impacts of methane leaks.
“Children are at higher risk than adults,” Yost said.
Previously living in Geneseo, she and her family moved to Pittsburgh, and about three years ago, a company began drilling for methane gas next to her home. She said workers used large drills and a practice called “fracking,” where fresh water is used underground to break up rocks and force out methane gas.
She said that water then is stored for some time in outdoor retention ponds nearby that are lined with a plastic liner that can leak.
“I've experienced firsthand the impacts of the oil and gas industry, the largest industrial source of methane nationally,” Yost said. “There are over 15 million people living in the shadow of oil and gas in the United States. We must protect their health and our future by passing meaningful EPA methane regulations."
Proposals to regulate methane leaks from the oil and gas industry are on the table at the EPA, she said, but the plans do not include limiting the leaks of 1.7 million oil and gas wells now in operation.
Dr. Maureen McCue of Iowa City is with Physicians for Social Responsibility. She talked about methane and other concerns related to climate changes and fossil fuel usage.
“Today, there is a lot we do not know,” she said. “But we are still fossil-fuel energy dependent."
She also said while climate change is a huge issue, it is made worse with other factors in the mix, such as chemicals in the air and water. Still, she said climate change itself is alarming.
“2015 was the hottest on record, and before then, 2014 was the hottest on record, and this January is the warmest January on record,” McCue said. “This is no small issue.”
On the other hand, she said Iowa is a leader in many areas of protecting the environment, including renewable energy.
“Iowa is ahead of the game in some ways,” she said. “They have invested a lot in wind industry, which means paying less for our electricity because of the wind and instead of using fossil fuels.”