Fracking stirs controversy in Ohio


CLEVELAND - Airways here and across Ohio have recently been flooded by ads from the oil and natural gas industry gleefully explaining that a new technology has allowed them to extract natural gas from rock.

Other ads remind viewers that they may be part owners of natural gas and oil companies through their retirement or pension funds.

Why the flood of information about natural gas? Because "fracking" has come to Ohio.

Three bills currently before the Ohio legislature would allow fracking in state parks. The industry seeks to drill 20,000 wells in the state parks with each site requiring the clearing of 20 acres of the surrounding woods. Currently there are only three wells in Ohio using a destructive new technology called slick water hydro-fracking, or high-pressure, high volume hydro-fracking.

Amendments to the bills proposing more environmental protections and excluding Lake Erie from fracking have all been rejected.

Over the past month standing room only crowds of concerned citizens have been testifying at public hearings against the drilling in state parks. Only one person testified in favor - David Mustine, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, appointed by Republican Governor John Kasich. Mustine has a background working for the oil and gas industry.

The Republican majority in Ohio's both houses seems oblivious to the public outcry and bent on putting the state's natural treasures at risk by an industry whose track record is shameful.

Since 2005 communities nationwide have seen the disastrous effects of the new technology. The system allows millions of gallons of fresh water mixed with up to 600 chemicals and sand that are forced under a very high pressure underground then drilled horizontally to "fracture" shale, releasing the natural gas and or oil trapped in the hard formations. Three fourths of the chemical laden water, or "brine" remain underground traveling through the fractures. If there is an underground aquifer in its path, that aquifer is permanently and severely polluted.

The remaining brine comes out above ground as wastewater. This backflow is a toxic product that can be radioactive if there is radon in the fractured rock. This wastewater is put in holding pools to allow some of the chemicals to evaporate into the atmosphere. 

The remaining wastewater is sometimes "recycled" by using it to spray the roads to keep the dust down, or other cleaning activities. It cannot be sent to municipal treatment facilities where there are no methods to clean it and should not be dumped into streams or rivers or lakes.

So, it is often put into injection wells. If the well is shoddily constructed this toxic mix can seep out to pollute the ground or, if there are heavy rains it can cause an overflow, which also pollutes the ground.

Does this sound like a clear violation of air and water regulations?

Unfortunately fracking is exempted from the usual environmental safeguards thanks to a loophole in the Clean Water Act of 2005 at the urging of former Vice President Dick Cheney. His former company, Halliburton, was also engaged in fracking.

This new kind of fracking has been practiced in many states including Texas, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, West Virginia, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

When Josh Fox, a Pennsylvania landowner was approached to sign a lease to allow fracking on his land, he knew nothing about the process. Seeking to learn more, he set off on a journey throughout the country to see first hand the effects fracking had on communities. What he found and documented in his Oscar-nominated film "Gasland" were alarming cases of ruined water wells, devastated landscapes, fouled streams, sick farm animals, pets and human beings, and evasive, uncooperative drilling companies and agencies responsible for regulating them.

Hoping to educate the public about the problems associated with horizontal fracking, the Northeast Ohio Sierra Club is holding screenings of  "Gasland." Coalitions working with the statewide Buckeye Forest Council are forming to oppose fracking in a number of counties.

Photo: Ari Moore // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


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    Hydraulic Fracturing, commonly known as Fracking, is a highly contraversial method of extracting oil and gas from existing, redundant and new wells. Drilling has begun in an unregulated frenzy from USA, China and now heading for gas rich Euroupe and other countries around the world. The environment and human health is at very serious and potential risk if this method of extracting gas is not stopped.

    Please get yourself informed and invite your friends to join this cause and the push towards a cleaner, safer and healthier world.


    A de-debunking document in response to specious and misleading
    gas industry claims against the film Gasland .

    Dear President Obama,
    I am writing to express extreme concern with the process of “hydraulic fracturing” is a non-profit organization that will collect environmental data, and provide environmental testing to lower income families and neighborhoods that are effected by natural gas exploration.

    Hydraulic Fracturing: The Process


    A call for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the UK

    Posted by Luke Ashley, 05/28/2011 4:27pm (5 years ago)

  • I am in Columbus Ohio. What grassroots efforts are underway to raise consciousness about fracking. The Kasich Administration and Republins in the General Assembly seem to be oblivious to critricism. These are the same guys and gals that put a provision in the House Budget Bill which allows the largest for profit charter school company to spend public tax dollars without any requirement to account for how the money is spent. A recent study indicated that charter schools rum by White Hat management are among the worst performing schools in the state.

    Posted by Timothy P. O'Hanlon, 05/27/2011 2:20pm (5 years ago)

  • I do not believe the time is right to pass anykind of legislation that would permit "fracking" implementation anywhere in Ohio. A lot more study and careful consideration needs to take place before permission is given to employ this technology. Destroying our environment to release trapped gas and oil simply is not worth it.

    Posted by James Kolendo, 05/27/2011 10:31am (5 years ago)

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