The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Gov. Kasich’s Energy plan ignores the dangers of fracking
By Alex Beauchamp
In March, Gov. John Kasich unveiled his new energy plan, to great fanfare. Finally, we were told, Ohio would force gas and oil companies to pay their fair share. Finally, we thought, we’d make sure that the mistakes of the past are behind us.
The sad truth is that there’s nothing in Kasich’s energy plan that makes hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, any safer. Instead, the governor proposed an extremely modest tax increase on oil and gas companies, most of which will subsidize a cut to the state’s personal income-tax rate.
Kasich proposes a new severance tax on fracking that could reach as high as four percent of the market value of the oil and natural gas produced. If that doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s because it isn’t. Neighboring West Virginia, which isn’t exactly unfriendly to big oil and natural gas, has a five percent tax on the market value of oil and gas.
We know fracking will result in increased inspection and clean-up costs, so you might think the governor will use this new revenue to at least offset some of the damage. Sadly, that’s not the case. The administration has pledged that every dollar in revenue will be offset by cuts to income taxes that will disproportionately benefit the wealthy.
Ohio deserves better than this. We’ve already seen some of the consequences of the state’s rush to drill. Youngstown experienced a dozen earthquakes, and, earlier this month, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) confirmed what many of us had long suspected—the injection of fracking wastewater into the ground caused these quakes.
You’d think this would give ODNR pause, but after a few cosmetic changes to drilling procedures, the administration plans to go full-steam ahead. Time will tell if we can expect more quakes as we drill more injection wells, but similar experiences in Oklahoma and Arkansas are not encouraging. While other states have taken the prudent step of rejecting injection wells, this administration seems content to let Ohio become a dumping ground for millions of gallons of fracking wastewater.
But the problem isn’t just what to do with the waste. Fracking itself poses its own dangers. Mark and Sandy Mangan in Medina County were told by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry that their well water is “potentially explosive,” most likely as a result of fracking near their property.
Residents in Broadview Heights are dealing with concerns not only over their water, but also over falling property values. A March 9 story from CBS News showed property values in the town declining by as much as 20 percent, and we know they’ll fall further when accidents occur. Given that fracking is already taking a financial toll on Ohio families, the few extra bucks that the Governor is proposing clearly won’t make much difference.
Across the country, the picture doesn’t look much better. In neighboring Pennsylvania, residents in Dimock are still struggling with water contaminated from gas drilling. Faced with water unsafe to drink or bathe in, many in the town are relying on water deliveries from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In Pavilion, Wyoming, we’ve seen similar contamination to the town’s groundwater identified by the EPA as part of an upcoming study on the effects of fracking.
The evidence is overwhelming. Fracking isn’t safe. It poses huge risks to our drinking water, our air, our quality of life and even to the ground under our feet. Why, then, is the Kasich administration proposing an energy plan based on modest tax increases on oil and gas companies? We all know that taxing something does not make it safe. The sad fact is that no amount of tax revenue can offset the potential harms of fracking.
Ultimately, Kasich’s energy plan doesn’t just ignore the dangers fracking poses, it offers Ohioans a false choice. This energy plan ties the rush to drill to tax rates, telling Ohio residents they can either accept fracking and the risks it poses, or they can pay higher taxes. Ohio should reject this choice and demand a real, sustainable energy plan.
A sensible energy plan would consider these risks and come to the obvious conclusion that they far outweigh the benefits. Ohio should ban fracking and injection wells immediately.
For more information, visit www.foodandwaterwatch.org.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Brian Barth
Late fall, after the last crops have been harvested, is a time to rest and reflect on the successes and challenges of the gardening year. But for those whose need to putter around in the garden doesn't end when cold weather comes, there's surely a few lingering chores. Get them done now and you'll be ahead of the game in spring.
By Bailey Hopp
If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.
(R) The measles virus pictured under a microscope. PHIL / CDC
The Pacific Island nation of Samoa declared a state of emergency this week, closed all of its schools and limited the number of public gatherings allowed after a measles outbreak has swept across the country of just 200,000 people, according to Reuters.
By Alison Cagle
Rising above the Arizona desert, the Santa Rita Mountains cradle 10,000 years of Indigenous history. The Tohono O'odham Nation, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and Hopi Tribe, among numerous other tribes, have worshipped, foraged, hunted and laid their ancestors to rest in the mountains for generations.
Native Americans are disproportionately without access to clean water, according to a new report, "Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan," to be released this afternoon, which shows that more than two million Americans do not have access to access to running water, indoor plumbing or wastewater services.
By Nanticha Ocharoenchai
In the Czech Republic, horses have become the knights in shining armor. A study published in the Journal for Nature Conservation suggests that returning feral horses to grasslands in Podyjí National Park could help boost the numbers of several threatened butterfly species.