• Tue. Mar 28th, 2023

Mid-Ohio Valley Local weather Nook: Fracking Ohio’s public lands | Information, Sports activities, Jobs


Mar 18, 2023

(Picture Illustration/MetroCreative)

Ohio HB 507 was rushed by the “lame duck” session with none public feedback. This invoice, which facilitates fracking on our public lands, turns into a legislation on April 7. As soon as that occurs, the Ohio Oil and Fuel Land Administration Fee will probably be in command of leasing processes. They’re creating guidelines and lease settlement types for the state parcels “nominated for fracking.” Nonetheless, till the foundations are in place, leases could be executed “with out public notices, with out public feedback, and with out aggressive bidding or oversight by the fee to guard the general public pursuits.”

Not like New York, which banned fracking primarily based on quite a few well being research, Ohio has embraced the trade with open arms and a lackadaisical perspective towards rules defending the land, air, water and residents’ well being. Our state lands at the moment are open for oil and fuel extraction and we’re confronted with an inconceivable process: making an attempt to protect our forests and parks from an extractive trade. In a February assembly of the fee, Ohio residents requested for a minimal 60-day remark interval, advance notification of the parcels being thought of, parcel info together with maps, and components being thought of in making selections.

I attended the March 1 fee assembly, however residents had been prohibited from talking or asking questions. As an alternative, the vast majority of the assembly was allotted to the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD), who mentioned their very profitable long-term affiliation with the oil and fuel trade and their template for lease agreements.

Whereas the MWCD claims their mission is flood discount, conservation, and recreation, after their presentation, one would possibly say their mission is to earn cash, a number of cash. The truth is, “nobody has benefited financially as a lot because the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District; Ohio’s No. 1 beneficiary of drilling.”

The MWCD has made tens of millions of {dollars} on water gross sales, fracking leases, and royalties. Moreover, the MWCD gathers charges from boaters who use the lakes, dwelling leases, park charges, cash from timbering, and charges from flood safety assessments.

Citing the MWCD royalty vary (18%-20%) as a template, the fee set 12.5 % because the minimal royalty charge for state lands, saying they “are most likely leaving {dollars} on the desk.” There’s little doubt our state lands are being seen as cash makers, not public lands the place Ohio’s residents can get pleasure from nature or the place biodiversity is protected. Ohio’s residents personal these lands and tax {dollars} help these companies, however it’s uncertain we may have a seat on the desk in terms of deciding which lands could be leased.

Muskingum’s land supervisor Nate Wilson, described how their leases (MWCD) “require further setbacks (3,000 ft), testing, and extra containment amenities in case of accidents.” However, their enter into the method ends there. The Ohio Division of Pure Sources has proven they lack the power to implement violations or levy fines and the trade advantages from exemptions of the Clear Air Act, Clear Water Act, Secure Ingesting Water Act, Nationwide Environmental Coverage Act, and Emergency Planning and Group Proper-to Know Act.

MWCD Government Director Craig Butler mentioned they (MWCD) “don’t put floor development on MWCD lands, however we do have pipeline entry and gathering line entry and water strains and people forms of issues.” It’s nonetheless unclear if our state lands will probably be impacted by drilling pads. Corporations might presumably use a “separate written floor use settlement” to assemble nicely pads on state lands.

The widespread use of high-pressure hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has turned rural areas of SE Ohio into industrial zones. I journey alongside Routes 151, 250 and 646 within the Tappan Lake space of the MWCD watershed and see limitless pipelines slicing throughout hillsides. Wells pads, entry roads, water withdraw strains and infrastructure are devouring the panorama. Is that this what we wish for our state lands?

Many Ohioans selected to dwell in rural areas due to the wonder the forests and hills present. Actual stewards of the surroundings shield valuable sources for future generations; they don’t destroy them for monetary beneficial properties. No amount of cash or extravagant marina is price exposing our youngsters to poisonous chemical compounds and air pollution from an unregulated trade. Our rural communities have turn out to be sacrificial zones on the mercy of the fossil gas trade.

Proponents of fracking solely tout the financial beneficial properties and proceed to disregard the long-term well being results related to fracking. They ignore the will increase in methane emissions that are fueling local weather change and contributing to the collapse of ecosystems world-wide. They permit radioactive leachate to enter our waterways. They overlook the tens of millions of gallons of radioactive produced water and carcinogenic chemical compounds that journey alongside our rural roads day by day. Accidents involving vehicles and tankers have elevated by 14 p.c in fracked areas of Ohio.

The latest prepare derailment in East Palestine reminds us of how simply one mistake can completely alter the lives of 1000’s of individuals and endlessly taint the surroundings. Till Ohio places well being, security, and a clear surroundings forward of the pursuits of the fossil gas trade, we will solely surprise what will probably be left of our state lands and rural communities within the aftermath of this rush to frack.


Randi Pokladnik, Ph.D., of Uhrichsville, is a retired analysis chemist who volunteers with Mid Ohio Valley Local weather Motion. She has a doctorate diploma in Environmental Research and is licensed in Hazardous Supplies Rules.

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