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National forest's 'open forum' didn't instill much confidence

To the Editor:

Wayne National Forest leaders and spokespersons expressed satisfaction with Wednesday's "open forum" on high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHHF) on forest lands: a first in their history. It's hard to understand this satisfaction.

Anne Carey, Wayne supervisor, said the forum was intended to inform; public participants disputed the "facts." Wayne spokesperson Gary Chancey repeatedly listed participating Wayne "partners"; his list ignored the county community. Asked if frackers were using Ohio River water (up to 8 million gallons per incident), the Ohio EPA educator said he didn't know. A veteran BLM well inspector had "never heard of hydrochloric acid" associated with HVHHF. But thousands of gallons of the acid are used routinely to clean wells, and some fracking cocktails include the acid (4,700 gallons spilled at a Pennsylvania frack site on July 4). Asked repeatedly why the Wayne would even consider leasing lands without a new Environmental Impact Statement (the 2006 EIS excluded HVHHF), not one Wayne official could provide a single reason.

In a typical conversation, a USDA minerals manager asserted that HVHHF wouldn't threaten drinking water for the 70,000 people who depend on Wayne watersheds. Such contamination has never occurred, he said. Hasn't this been settled, not by the smoking gun of gag orders routinely imposed along with industry settlements in these claims, but by science? Set aside the evidence that the HVHHF industry creates "communicating" pathways across geological layers (Mooney, November, 2011, Scientific American).

Read the full article here.


Legendary oilman calls for tougher controls on fracking

Our energy  writer Elizabeth Souder has an eagle’s eye and found this really interesting item. Legendary oilman and Barnett Shale fracking expert George Mitchell  has told Forbes that  the federal government should do more to regulate hydraulic fracturing. That’s right, an energy guy calling for more rules on fracking. 

 And  his reason for more regulation is pretty straightforward:

 “Because if they don’t do it right there could be trouble,” he says. There’s no excuse not to get it right. “There are good techniques to make it safe that should be followed properly,” he says. But, the smaller, independent drillers, “are wild.”

“It’s tough to control these independents. If they do something wrong and dangerous, they should punish them,” Mitchell says.

 And when asked whether tough regulations would chase the industry away from fracking, he said any extra costs due to smart safety regulation would be passed on in the price of natural gas.

Read the full story at the link below.


Cincinnati cont.

Working for a local ban

Alison Auciello, coalition member and organizer for Food & Water Watch said, “We’re optimistic that City Council will move quickly to ban all fracking activities in order to keep Cincinnati from becoming a dumping ground for the fracking industry’s waste.” The coalition is seeking a community rights based ban, as well as other local ordinances which would permanently keep the fracking industry out of town.

The state of the State

In 2004, the state of Ohio gave ODNR exclusive rights over permitting oil and gas wells, effectively stripping communities of their rights to oversee permitting in their respective communities. “The state and federal governments are giving every imaginable handout to the fracking industry,” said Mary Clare Rietz, of the Ohio Alliance for People and Environment. “Local communities in a functioning democracy should have the right to say ‘no thanks’ to anything that puts people at risk.” Ms. Rietz is also noting the blanket federal exemptions from the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

Governor Kasich’s red carpet energy plan Senate Bill 315 also did not address exemptions, nor did it address the association of waste injection wells and earthquakes. In response to the recent fracking industry handout, some of our members wore costumes portraying “gagged” doctors, confused first responders, a corrupt John Kasich, and various affected citizens. One costume featured a large faucet spouting flammable water.

Cincinnati City Council on Fracking

On April 18th of this year, Council members stated their concern in an anti-fracking resolution, which passed unanimously. Council members raised concerns during hearings on the resolution that Cincinnati does not have the infrastructure or capabilities for the rapidly expanding fracking industry.

“We right now do not know the answers, we do not have the numbers or the documentation, we are not prepared to respond to the hazards that come with fracking,” said councilman Wendell Young, pointing to the lack of substantive research on the true costs of fracking. “It is reckless to allow this practice to continue until we do. We are endangering our water supply, our land, and the health of all of our citizens.”

It’s great to live in Cincinnati, where our council actually is taking steps to protect our drinking water, and prevent hazardous waste water and industry-related earthquakes. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.

To join the SW Ohio No Frack Forum or for more information, e-mail

To find out how your Ohio representative voted on SB 315, click here

Photos courtesy of Ronald Gillespie


See pictures here.


Fracking waste water tested

An Athens County activist who was arrested last week after she blocked the entrance to a fracking waste water disposal well traveled to Columbus today to discuss the hazardous compounds she claims the well injects underground.

Madeline ffitch, 31, said a laboratory test of fracking wastes that an anonymous source took from the Ginsburg disposal well off Ladd Ridge Road in Athens County revealed high levels of arsenic, barium, toluene and radioactivity. She wouldn't discuss how the waste water was obtained.

The test, she said, underscores the need for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to do its own testing of the waste water, which also is called brine. Athens County Sheriff deputies arrested ffitch on Thursday, after she chained herself to two concrete-filled barrels and blocked the entrance to the Ginsburg well.

In an emailed statement, Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials responded that federal regulations require that oil and gas field wastes go to the Ginsburg well and 175 similar "class two" injection wells in Ohio, and that the wells are built to safely dispose of those wastes.


Gas Under Graveyards Raises Moral, Money Questions

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP via USA Today) -- Cemeteries are joining parks, playgrounds, churches and backyards as targets of the U.S. shale drilling boom, and that's an uncomfortable idea for some.

Opponents say cemeteries shouldn't be disturbed by drilling they worry will be noisy, smelly and unsightly. Defenders say the drilling is too deep to cause such problems and can generate revenue to enhance the grounds.

In rural Ohio, trustees in Poland Township received a proposal this year to lease cemetery mineral rights for $140,000, plus 16 percent of any royalties, for any oil and gas. Similar offers followed at two other area cemeteries.

"Most people don't like it," said 70-year-old Marilee Pilkington, who lives down the road from the 122-year-old Lowellville Cemetery and whose father and brother are buried there.

"I think it's a dumb idea because I wouldn't want anyone up there disturbing the dead, number one, and, number two, I don't like the aspect of drilling," she said.

Read the full story here.


Ohio braces for influx of ‘man camps’ to house drilling-industry workers 


With oil and natural gas exploration growing in Ohio, state and local officials are preparing for the possibility that “man camps” to house industry workers soon could dot the landscape.

Ohio agencies have not received any applications to date, but what has happened in other states experiencing an oil boom foreshadows a surge in new, temporary housing.

Man camps, as they have been dubbed, are typically a collection of recreational vehicles, mobile homes or dormitory-style modular housing. The camps are home to hundreds of employees for months at a time while wells are being drilled in areas with limited hotels or rental-housing availability.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Health have released a 12-page document outlining rules on drinking water and wastewater — from toilets, showers, sinks and laundry facilities — in dealing with such temporary housing. Camps must provide clean, potable drinking water and appropriate wastewater management under state and county health rules.

Read the full article here.


Thirst for fracking draws water from local streams 

In February, residents of southern Stark County were surprised to find giant pumps sitting next to Indian Run, a small stream that flows into Sandy Creek.

A contractor was taking water from Indian Run for Chesapeake Energy and a nearby well in Osnaburg Township. There was a water intake device in a small pool in the stream. There were two pumps and lots of hoses.

More recently, similar hoses were found in the Licking River near the Knox-Licking county line where Devon Energy, another driller, was taking 3 million gallons of water for its well fracking.