Ohio Regulators Promoting Fracking Not Surprising As Seen From Broadview Heights

I know many citizens of Ohio are shocked by the recent revelation based on a public records request that a state-appointed regulatory agency is actually promoting drilling, and working to “convince” the public that it is safe. But I’m not. Call it “lessons learned on the front lines.” Based on personal experience with drilling in my hometown, I was not surprised when I read this information on the Ohio Department of Natural Resource’s recently exposed, 10-page memo listing allies, threats, and strategies to convince us that drilling in state parks was a good idea. I was not surprised to read notes that revealed the governor’s office, Halliburton, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, local chambers of commerce and media outlets like the Youngstown Vindicator are “allies” and environmental groups are considered “threats.” With 90 wells in a 13-square-mile residential community, residents in my hometown of Broadview Heights learned several years ago that the ODNR was not on our side. We learned that our local officials had their authority stripped from them by a legislature that was bought and paid for with industry lobby money, according to a Common Cause report. We learned that our local safety officials (fire and police) were not notified as to when a well would be fracked or what chemicals would be used. We learned that citizens and even the city, none of whom wanted to sign a lease and were forcibly “pooled” into a drilling unit against their will and wanted to appeal, had to do so before an ODNR panel that was stacked in favor of the industry. So no, this revelation about our state regulatory agency did not have...

Kent Bill of Rights Seeks to Regain Power

A recent leaflet from opponents of Issue 21 in Kent disturbed me. Why are city employees using partisan scare tactics? Why would utility bills go up? Why wouldn’t residents be able to run furnaces and change oil? All our charter amendment does is state the basic environmental rights of Kent residents and ban fracking/injection wells. More worthy of a response is the issue of job creation. First, jobs like fracking and injecting are always locally temporary — operations move from place to place, drilling and injecting. Like strip mining, the fracking and/or dumping is done and then the crews depart, leaving residents to deal with any subsequent damage: water and air pollution plus earthquakes, as documented in Record-Courier news reports. Is part of city government so short-sighted that it wants the fracking/injection equivalent of strip-mining in Kent? Why not try for a grant to create jobs building solar equipment and windmills? Enough people would benefit and enough long-term jobs would be created to outweigh any advantages from fracking/injection jobs. Strive for a Kent Green New Deal, city of Kent officials! Read the rest...

‘Outsider’ Urges Passage of Issue 21 In Kent

Although a Kent “outsider” (resident of Northeastern Portage), because I have researched issues behind community rights I am responding to Mr. Sidoti’s three objections to Issue 21 (Record-Courier, Oct. 27). (1.) Kent and Portage residents have worked together for several years researching drilling and waste injection. We found that health, water, air, food and property values are threatened by this risky industrial process. We investigated regulatory protection and found that in 2004 laws were written privileging oil and gas profits over local rights to choose democratically how we live. Local public officials told us they could do nothing about the threats posed by drilling and waste disposal. We lobbied legislators and begged local officials to protect us. Kent residents asked City Council (2012) to ban this process. Read the rest...

Kent Councilwomen Support Issue 21

Not all city officials are against Issue 21 (Kent Community Bill of Rights). While we have some concerns about this imperfect charter amendment, we think there is more right than wrong with it in its intention. Kent’s Charter Commission will meet in 2015 and can recommend corrections if there is overreach as some have predicted. Our main reason for support is that this passage, coupled with the other Ohio and out-of-state communities that have bravely passed similar Bills of Rights, is a way to send a strong message to the Statehouse and federal government that we demand certain environmental protections and that the oil and gas industry should not be given special privileges above those of other industries. By speaking out, we are in a unique position to provide leadership for the region, while doing our best to protect the environment proactively within our city limits. Read the rest...

Oil Industry Spokesman Gets It Wrong About Local Fracking Ban

To the Editor: The comments by Shawn Bennett in a recent interview published in The Athens NEWS on Dec. 8 seriously misrepresent the problems and dangers that the fracking industry presents to the residents of Athens and neighboring counties. According to Mr. Bennett, Issue 7, which recently passed in the city of Athens by a 78 percent to 22 percent margin, represented an attempt by an out-of-state organization to interfere with local economic development. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Issue 7 was an attempt by local residents to prevent out-of-state industries from polluting our local environment. By Mr. Bennett’s own admission, there are no current plans for deep-shale fracking development in Athens County, because oil and gas extraction is not sufficiently profitable here. What the oil and gas industry is planning to do, however, is to turn Athens and neighboring counties into dumping grounds for fracking waste generated in other states. There are no economic benefits resulting from environmental contamination. The reason that our communities are being targeted for disposal of out-of-state waste is that our state laws allow the oil and gas industry to avoid federal EPA oversight and ignore regulations that they must comply with to dispose of fracking waste in other states. Thus, neighboring states where EPA regulations still apply find it cheaper and easier to send their fracking waste here. Read the rest...