August 2023 Newsletter

Posted Sep 26, 2023, by Alex Downing

PA HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT STUDY (Instagram Post (Square)) (1)

Pitt Study Results Released

On August 15th, the University of Pittsburgh and PA Department of Health released the results of their studies on the health impacts of fracking in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The studies found the following:

  • People with asthma living near wells during the production phase have a 4-5x greater chance of their asthma getting worse, including increased hospitalizations.
  • Children living close to wells have a 5-7x greater risk of developing lymphoma. 
  • Babies whose mothers lived near active wells were 20-40 grams smaller at birth.
  • The study did NOT find evidence of an association between proximity to fracking and Ewing's Sarcoma in children or young adults.

Our Organizing Director Heaven Sensky, who has been leading our efforts to get these studies completed since 2019, wrote about the complicated feelings of hope, validation, fear and frustration she's been feeling since attending the results release meeting with dozens of residents and activists earlier this month.

"I'm sure like many of you, I’ve found it difficult to sleep at night. Not because I was in despair but because I was reeling with energy from the meeting. I was asked by a reporter what I was most angry about coming out of the meeting, and I paused to think of the crucial reason my stomach was turning. I found myself unable to, and responded that I was far more hopeful than I was angry.

I was hopeful looking around that room at dozens of people who are so deeply committed to their friends and neighbors' safety that they continue to show up and put themselves in uncomfortable positions to speak truth to power. I was hopeful sitting alongside Janice and her family and Christine, whose bravery and strength inspires me everyday, and gives me every reason to continue this work despite it being such an uphill battle. I was hopeful as the findings, and our voices, were shared by dozens of news outlets across the region and the country. I was hopeful as scientists, nurses, doctors, investigative journalists, and residents stood up and asked tough, thoughtful, well-informed questions. I was hopeful because I know we are not alone in this.

Four years ago, a group of us from Little Washington County moved 3.5 million dollars of the state’s budget to produce these findings with nothing but our voices. There is nothing we can’t achieve going forward, together."

Read the rest of her reflection on the studies and the meeting and learn about upcoming opportunities to build off these findings and fight for policies that protect our families' health.


New Freeport Makes National Headlines, Residents Confront Toby Rice

On August 19th, NBC News reporter Lisa Cavazuti published an article detailing the situation in New Freeport, PA where residents have gone 14 months without definitive answers about their water after an active EQT fracking well communicated with an orphaned well near the town. CCJ has been helping New Freeport residents with water testing, contacting officials, and securing temporary water sources since last June. We continued this support by helping them organize a trip to confront EQT CEO Toby Rice during a town hall event in Waynesburg on the 24th. Residents had the chance to voice their concerns to Rice face-to-face and managed to secure an in-person meeting yesterday, August 30th, that included some encouraging developments and outcomes. CCJ will continue to support residents as these talks continue in pursuit of permanent water solutions, additional testing, and accountability from EQT.



Our blogs are written by the staff of the Center for Coalfield Justice, with an occasional guest post. The most recent post appears on top, and others show up below in order of publishing date. You can receive the blogs in your inbox by signing up for our mailing list. Once per month we publish a newsletter, which contains most of the blog posts.

Testing Strips

Federal agencies approve new Harm Reduction Resources

Harm Reduction advocates have been hard at work trying to get state, local and federal governments to increase and expand resources and services to combat the opioid crisis and mitigate the amount of overdoses and overdose deaths across the nation. A couple new resources are now available. Recently, a test strip pre-order form was created…

Black Lung

Black Lung and Silica Rule Updates

Living in coal country, most of us know someone who has – or, more unfortunately, had – black lung, silicosis, and other respiratory diseases associated with coal mining.   Sure, on paper the companies may show compliance with state regulations, but the fact is, more and more miners receive diagnoses of irreversible and progressive lung…


Take Action

Tell Your County Commissioners to Practice Transparency When Spending Opioid Settlement Funds

Millions of dollars are coming to Washington and Greene County from the recent nationwide opioid settlements. These funds are explicitly intended to be used for Harm Reduction, Recovery, and Substance Use Disorder services and we want to make sure they get used on strategies that have been proven to mitigate harm and decrease overdoses in our communities. If you’re in one of those counties, sign our petition calling on your county commissioners to be transparent and listen to community input when spending these funds. Please note this petition is available to Washington and Greene County residents only!

Donate Today to the New Freeport Water Drive

For over 14 months, residents of New Freeport in Greene County, PA have been without safe, reliable drinking water after a nearby EQT fracking operation interacted with a surface well. Residents have had to rely on expensive options like bottled water and refillable jugs for drinking and cooking and many continue to shower with unsafe water. They have reported rashes and oily residue after using the water, unpleasant odors, and tiny, black specks in the water coming from their faucets. This community has been awaiting answers and aid from EQT and the state for over a year.

We have been supporting this community by delivering clean water to folks and need your help to continue doing so until there is a more permanent solution. Our next drop off for residents is September 11th. Donate now!

Close the Hazardous Waste Loophole

For the last 3 decades, oil and gas companies have taken advantage of a loophole in state laws governing the disposal of toxic drilling waste. Such drilling waste contains proprietary chemical additives, hydrocarbons, heavy metals, radionuclides, and salts that can be harmful to both humans and our environment. Despite oil and gas waste presenting a hazard, the loophole exempts them from following hazardous waste protocols. This means that dangerous pollutants are being disposed of in our communities without adequate oversight. We are demanding elected officials across party lines to put our health before corporations' profits and close the hazardous waste loophole!

We have been supporting this community by delivering clean water to folks and need your help to continue doing so until there is a more permanent solution. Our next drop off for residents is September 11th. Donate now!

Public Notices

Read all of the latest relevant public notices from the past month for Washington and Greene Counties as of August 25th here.

Upcoming Events

2023 Harvest Festival Cover

9/9 — Harvest Festival

Coming up one week from Saturday is our 2nd annual Fall Harvest Festival! Join us on September 9th from 2-6:00 PM at Mingo Creek County Park - Shelter #1. Bring your excess harvest to share, swap seeds from your garden with neighbors, enjoy free games and kids activities, and connect with community members around a bonfire as we celebrate the start of the fall season together. CCJ will be providing brats, hotdogs, and drinks and we are asking community members to bring potluck style sides. Plus, bring along camping chairs or blankets to cozy up around the fire or hang by the creek. This event is free for all ages and leashed dogs are welcomed, too!

Opioid Fund Transparency Petition Action Alert (Facebook Event Cover)

9/14 — Opioid Settlement Fund Listening Session

Millions of dollars are coming to our communities from the recent nationwide opioid settlements to expand Harm Reduction, Recovery, and Substance Use Disorder services. We want to make sure these funds get used on strategies that have been proven to mitigate harm and decrease the amount of overdoses and overdose fatalities in our communities. We recognize that the opioid crisis has impacted many residents in our communities whose input needs to be included in the decision-making process for spending these funds. We are holding this listening session to support Washington County in collecting that input.

If you would like to learn more about the money coming into your community, or share your thoughts and ideas on how you think the county should spend these funds, please register below to join our Listening Session at Club Serenity in Charleroi on Thursday, September 14th at 6pm.

September 2023 Community Meeting Banner

9/26 — September Community Meeting: Money in Politics

Where: CCJ Office — 31 E Chestnut St., Washington, PA

When: September 26 @ 6:00 PM (time subject to change)

What: Our September meeting will focus on the outsized role of money in our local and state politics. Billionaires and greedy corporations have used unlimited campaign contributions and 'gifts' to lawmakers to create a pay to play system that takes away the voices of the people. Learn more about these issues and CCJ's work with the PAYBAC Table, a coalition committed to taking on billionaire and corporate power in Pennsylvania.

If you would like to learn more about the money coming into your community, or share your thoughts and ideas on how you think the county should spend these funds, please register below to join our Listening Session at Club Serenity in Charleroi on Thursday, September 14th at 6pm.

MAD-FACTS September Banner

9/27 — MAD-FACTS September Meeting

MAD-FACTS (Moms & Dads: Families Awareness of Cancer Threat Spike) will be meeting for their next monthly meeting of parents and residents from around the region who are concerned about health impacts of oil and gas development. This month, we’ll be joined by speakers from Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania, a collection of health professionals who work to advance policies that protect public and environmental health. The meeting will take place September 27 at 6:00 PM at North Strabane Township Park’s Quail Acres Pavilion in Canonsburg.

Fall Fundraiser Banner (1)

10/19 — 9th Annual CCJ Fall Fundraiser

Join us for an evening of community, connection, and celebration at the Stone Pavilion in Washington Park on Saturday, October 14th  from 5-9:00 PM. Celebrate 29 years of CCJ’s work supporting environmental justice in Greene and Washington Counties. Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for students, and $10 for children ages 7-11. Admission includes one full meal, dessert, non-alcoholic beverages, and one drink ticket for attendees over 21 years old. We will have a silent auction and raffle featuring items from local artists and businesses throughout the event. Plus, enjoy music from The Dan Baker Trio and Patti Spadaro.

Ally & Community Events

9/4 - 9/9 — West Alexander Fair

  • West Alexander Park

  • The West Alexander Fair event is a country fair with agricultural and livestock exhibits, Fair Queen, tractor pulls, truck pulls, antique machinery, rodeo, chainsaw carving, demolition derby, live entertainment, food, entertainment, amusement rides, and more! Tickets cost $10 per night or $30 for a week pass. CCJ will have a booth there all week, so come say hi!

  • More information here

9/14 — March to End Fossil Fuels

  • 12-1:00 PM @ 56th and Broadway (New York, NY) with more optional activities all week
  • On September 17th, climate and frontline organizations from around the country are meeting in New York City to call on President Biden to stop fossil fuel expansion and declare a climate emergency. The march will take place ahead of the UN Climate Ambition Summit and feature activists from the front lines of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Appalachia, Willow Project in Alaska, Gulf South refineries and LNG terminals, and more.
  • Interested in attending? Our friends at the Center for Popular Democracy are organizing a bus to NYC here.

9/16 — Art(s) in the Park

  • 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM @ Washington Park

  • Washington Park hosts the first ever Art(s) in the Park event celebrating, showcasing, embracing, and demonstrating various forms of art. IncludingWe are excited to be partnering with Citywide Development Corp., WQED, The Pittsburgh Ballet, Frick Park, WashPA Outdoors and more to celebrate, showcase, embrace and demonstrate various forms of art! More details to come!

  • Learn more and register here

10/1 - 10/2 — PA Climate Convergence Summit

  • Harrisburg, PA: Soldier’s Grove, Capitol Building and Surrounding Area

  • This year’s Pennsylvania Climate Convergence will take place October 1st and 2nd, with people from across Pennsylvania converging in Harrisburg to change the conversation on climate change. PCC’s organizers are frontline community members, grassroots organizers, and advocates. Some planned activities include a pre-summit hybrid event with author Bill McKibben, panel discussions with frontline organizers, scientists, and activists from across the state, testimony and lobbying, art and music performances, kid’s activities and so much more!
  • More information & transportation signup here!

Weekly Events

Tuesdays & Saturdays — Greene County Flea Market

Wednesdays — Waynesburg Farmers Market

Thursdays — Main Street Farmers Market (Washington)

Fridays — Monongahela Farmers Market

Second Saturday Monthly — Free Food Pantry

You can find community events in Washington County here and Greene County here.


We could not do this work without the continued support of our members and supporters. Please help us to continue our work to fight for environmental justice in Southwestern Pennsylvania by becoming a member of CCJ. Recurring monthly donations help to best support our work. Any gift made to the Center for Coalfield Justice is 100% tax-deductible.


  • Alex Downing

    Alex Downing is the Digital Communications Strategist for CCJ. He was previously our Communications Associate and an Outreach Fellow. He manages all of our social media and writes our monthly newsletter, the Coalfield Review. Alex was born and raised in Pittsburgh's north suburbs and learned about the importance of nature and conservation at a young age through his father and grandfather’s involvement with preserving parks and hiking trails in the area. He has a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Strategic Communications from American University and a master’s degree in Environmental Studies from Point Park University. Alex currently lives in Bethesda, Maryland with his partner Lindsey. Outside of work, he enjoys kayaking, watching movies, and rooting for the Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates. Contact Alex at alex@centerforcoalfieldjustice.org.

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