The Straight Scoop on Shale

A project of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania Citizen Education Fund

Eighth Annual Shale & Public Health Conference
Tuesday November 17, 2020
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
from noon to 4:30 p.m. EST
The conference is presented by the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and hosted by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
The conference is free but you need to register!
More information and videos from past conferences:
Featuring new research presented by national experts on shale and public health impacts, and practical applications.
The conference will feature five topic segments. Each includes a panel discussion led by a top researcher offering framing remarks.
Novel Methods of Assessing Air Exposures & Public Health
– Nicole Deziel, PhD, Yale
Unconventional Oil & Gas,Community Impacts & Environmental Justice
– Lara Cushing PhD, UCLA; Jim Fabisiak, PhD, U Pittsburgh
New Research on Birth Outcomes
– Lisa McKenzie, PhD, U of Colorado Anschutz
New Research on Other Health Outcomes
– Seth Shonkoff, PhD, PSE Healthy Energy/UC Berkeley
Climate Change, COVID 19, Fossil Fuels and Plastics
– Brian Schwartz, MD, Johns Hopkins 
There will also be a networking session on Tuesday from 3:45-4:30.
Or call 1-800-61-SHALE
You may also pass along this information to a friend or colleague who would be interested in attending.
Visit our Website:

Educating the Public about Environmental Impacts of Plastics Year-Round

Our local league plans to continue public education about the environment at the tabling events planned for September and other events such as the Greater Lehigh Valley Renewable Energy Expo that PennEnvironment held at DeSales University on Thursday, August 22. We offered two printed publications written by Vera Bonnet to attendees:  a 72-page booklet called The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania SHALE GAS EXTRACTION AND PUBLIC HEALTH A Resource Guide Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Extraction Study, 2018 Update to Addendum Shale and Public Health Committee (pictured below) and a 12-page booklet called All About Plastic booklet (pictured at left) for the public. The Lead Writer and Editor of the former is Vera Bonnet.  Since plastic is a byproduct of the oil and gas industry, Bonnet recently authored the latter. 
As quoted inside the front cover, “Plastic is so common today that it’s difficult to imagine what life would be like without it….This sounds good until you consider that plastic never really goes away…. This booklet is designed to show the magnitude of today’s problem and to encourage you to become involved in finding solutions.”

Please email Jan Little at and input “LWVLC Shale” in the subject if you would like to receive a copy of either booklet. Soon, we will post photos of our exhibit and the Greater Lehigh Valley Renewable Energy Expo.


Fittingly for April and Earth Day 2019, the Hot Topics Luncheons that took place on January and March were about the Article 1, Section 27 is our state’s environmental rights amendment and the Wildlands Conservancy.  However, support for the environment should be maintained year-round.  Through the LWVPA Citizen Education Fund, with support from a grant from the Colcom Foundation, funding is available to local leagues to increase the public’s awareness about the environment, particularly the link between plastics and the gas and oil industry.  We welcome the public to use this entire webpage as a resource.  Please contact our League at if you would like to partner with us to put on displays in public and private schools, public libraries, science fairs and other school projects and any idea you develop yourself.

You may start learning about plastics right now.  The Straight Scoop on Shale Drilling webpage has many resources including a powerpoint called “PLASTICS 101:  What You Should Know” given by Dr. Don Naragon, chemist emeritus, member of the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh and of the LWVPA Board.

Below are links to resources from conferences and websites dedicated to this issue.

2018 Shale & Public Health Conference

The sixth annual Shale & Public Health conference was held on Wednesday November 14, 2018.  One outcomes that benefited our local league was the presentation of the The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania SHALE GAS EXTRACTION AND PUBLIC HEALTH A Resource Guide Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Extraction Study, 2018 Update to Addendum Shale and Public Health Committee, Lead Writer and Editor, Vera Bonnet.
  • Our local league offered copies to members who attended the Hot Topics Luncheon in March.
  • We donated copies to all of the 13 public libraries in the Allentown Public Library District.  The district includes Carbon and Lehigh counties. 
  • The Bethlehem Area Public Library donated copies to all 5 public libraries in western Northampton County. Easton Area Public Library donated copies to 8 out of 15 public libraries in Monroe and eastern Northampton counties.
  • Berks County Public Libraries donated copies to 16 out of 24 public libraries.
  • Pottsville Free Public Library to donate to all 14 public libraries in Schuylkill and three Northumberland counties.
  • Public libraries may request a copy for their catalog via email sent to
NOTE:  We can still refer to information made available at past conferences:
  • Click here for the twelve-page handout distributed at the2016 Shale & Public Health Conference.

The specific topic of Straight Scoop on Shale is the link between fracking for natural gas and plastics.  Click Industry Structure a flow chart that illustrates this.

  • Click here for The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania SHALE GAS EXTRACTION AND PUBLIC HEALTH A Resource Guide Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Extraction Study, 2017 Update to Addendum Shale and Public Health Committee, Lead Writer and Editor, Vera Bonnet (Indiana County League member)

Where this webpage fits in

As we receive them, informational resources on environmental and health impacts of plastics, waste disposal issues, strategies for addressing plastics issues, alternatives to plastics and other innovative approaches will be made available on this web page.

And, we welcome partners from across Lehigh County to join us in distributing this information.  Students of all ages attending schools of all types and active in clubs and initiatives, environmental groups and individual citizens who are concerned about plastics and the environment, please contact if you would like to join us.


“Economics of Petrochemicals Overview”

  • Click here for the link to a presentation that Chair Heather Harr saw at a conference in NYC on March 14, 2018.   It was compiled and delivered by Cathy Kunkel of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. It describes, from an economic perspective, the link between fracking and plastics.
  • Click on Industry Structure the subject of slide 12: a diagram of the flow from oil and gas to petrochemicals that can be turned into plastic products.

“Your bottled water may contain hundreds of little pieces of plastic”

  • Click here for a story about a new study of plastic in bottled water, “Your bottled water may contain hundreds of little pieces of plastic” updated on April 30, 2018.
  • Click here for a link to the actual study, thanks to WPXI, an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that included the link in its relatively in-depth report.

The Story of Stuff project

  • Click here, “Sit back and listen: it’s The Good Stuff.”

The Story of Stuff project: The Story of Microfibers

  • Click here for a short video about polyester.
The Story of Stuff project: Take That, Plastic Bags!
  • Click here for another podcast, about some actions/solutions to the plastic bag issue.
“Introduction to Plastics”

Dr. Don Naragon, chemist emeritus, is in the process of tweaking the PowerPoint overview about the biochemistry of plastics that he delivered in April 2018 in Pittsburgh.  Listed below are some of the topics covered in the presentation.

  • Click here for a definition of plastics.  Dr. Naragon discussed the biochemical composition of the major groups of plastics and what products are made from them.  But, we are concerned about their effect on the environment and what we can do to reduce their negative impact..
  • Click here for the seven standard classifications for plastics, and the recycling and reuse information for each type.

National Geographic magazine, June 2018, the Plastics issue

We Made Plastic. We Depend on It. Now We’re Drowning in It.

List of environmental dates

July 2019
Zero waste week always takes place the week beginning the first Monday in September,
Pollution Prevention Week begins the third Monday in September.
October 2019
November 2019
November 2019
February, 2020
March 2020
April 22, 2020

List of United Nation’s environmental decades