The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
WHAT: Informational meeting regarding the Youngstown earthquakes, the effects of fracking and the possibility of drilling in Poland Township, Mill Creek Park and Poland Municipal Forest
WHEN: Feb. 27, 6 - 8 p.m.
WHERE: Channing Hall of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown, 1105 Elm St., Youngstown, Ohio 44505
On Feb. 27, a group of concerned Youngstown citizens and panelists will hold the second in a series of open public town hall style informational meetings. The meeting will provide new and updated information and answer audience questions about events related to the 4.0 magnitude Youngstown area earthquake, fracking and related processes associated with shale gas drilling and brine toxic waste injection wells.
Additional topics will include risks involving the possibility of gas industry-related drilling under Poland Township’s Lowellville Cemetery, Mill Creek Park and Poland Municipal Forest. The meeting is coordinated by Frackfree Mahoning Valley. Media and the general public are invited to attend.
• Ohio State Representative Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown)
• Geology Professor Ray Beiersdorfer, Ph.D.
• Lynn Anderson, member of the Guardians of Mill Creek Park
According to geologist Susie Beiersdorfer, who will moderate the town hall meeting, “More and more citizens are waking up to the reality of serious risks of fracking-related processes to drinking water and air quality, as well as man-made earthquakes in our area. The idea that there would be any discussion at all of placing injection wells or hydraulic fracturing wells near cemeteries, schools, homes, parks or forests is appalling and highly misguided, to say the least. It shows disregard of the public’s right to protect our health and safety.”
Despite the gas and oil industry’s lobbying and expensive advertising efforts to try to reassure people of the safety of its new technology, opposition to fracking remains strong. A Quinnipiac University poll showed that 72 percent of Ohio voters say “…stop hydro-fracking until there are further studies on its impact.”
In New York State there is currently a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. Officials must respond to citizens’ comments on whether or not to allow the hold on hydrofracking to be lifted. A Syracuse newspaper reports that most of the comments are against drilling. More specifically, “The Gannett newspapers reported in mid-December that comments up to that time were running 10 to 1 in opposition,” according to The Post- Standard of Syracuse, New York.
Residents from all regions are encouraged to attend the Youngstown meeting to voice their concerns or questions.
For more information, click here.
On Feb. 7, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) delivered his State of the State address from the 1,100-seat Steubenville High School auditorium rather than keeping with tradition and delivering the speech from the Statehouse in the centrally located capital city of Columbus.
For many, it's not difficult to see why. His positions on issues such as education, energy, environment, voting rights and workers' rights have been out of touch with the will of the people.
Located on the West Virginia border—near Kasich's hometown of Mckees Rocks, Pa.—Steubenville is out of the way for most Ohioans. Many citizens see this break from 200 years of tradition as a ploy to evade what would surely be a swarm of protestors.
If the plan was to keep protestors away, it didn't work.
Steubenville is also located near the natural gas-rich shale-drilling fields of eastern Ohio. Fresh on the heels of 11 deep-injection well-related earthquakes in the nearby city of Youngstown, Ohio, in addition to an increasing number of high-profile fracking incidents across the country—most recently involving the contamination of drinking water in Pavilion, Wyo.—fracking is the hottest issue in the state, with Gov. Kasich leading the charge to fully tap into the state's vast resources with little to no safety regulations in place. Currently, Ohio is home to more than 180 injection wells and receives nearly 50 percent of its fracking wastewater from New York, Pennsylvania and other Northeastern states.
Despite overwhelming public support, current Ohio legislation—SB 213 and HB 345—that would impose a moratorium on fracking permits and waste-disposal injection wells until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concludes a study to determine whether there's a link between drill sites and contaminated drinking water has been stonewalled in committee.
Adding to environmental and health concerns is the recently reported news that Ohio's oil and gas companies pay taxes to the state based on an honor system, meaning "well owners are required to report the amount of natural gas they 'sever' from the earth and file severance-tax returns each quarter," according to the Youngstown Vindicator's website, Vindy.com.
“You’ve got to be kidding me," said State Rep. Robert Hagan (D-Youngstown). "This is a real failure of government. It is all too apparent now that the Department of Taxation and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources give the oil and gas industry a free pass to write a tax check to the state based on what they think is fair."
The report, carried out by a coalition of Northeast Ohio journalism programs, cited at least a $3 million discrepancy for 2010 in what was collected by the Ohio Department of Taxation and what was reported by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association.
"As unbelievable as it may seem, the industry tells the state how much gas they’ve extracted and pays taxes based on that figure," said Josh Fox, director of the Oscar-nominated documentary Gasland. "There’s no oversight or monitoring. In fact, the state lacks the authority to check meters at the wellhead and compare those readings against the figures turned in by producers. The producers pay what they want to pay—no questions asked."
To read Josh Fox's statement from today's rally, click here.
Rally speakers included:
- State Representative Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown)
- Senator Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood)
- Stefanie Penn Spear, Executive Director, EcoWatch
- Susie Beiersdorfer, Geology Instructor, Youngstown State University, Frackfree Mahoning Valley
The rally also addressed the following:
- Kasich isn’t standing up for us and someone needs to be fighting for our future and our communities.
- While our citizens continue to struggle, Kasich is giving away the state to his biggest campaign contributors.
- Education. Environment. Voting Rights. Workers’ Rights. Attack after attack—Kasich and his allies are working for their corporate special interests, continuing to ignore the will of the people.
- After the beating Kasich took on Issue 2, he knows the people are against him. So instead of having the State of the State at the Statehouse in Columbus, Kasich is running away to a small venue in hopes that no one will make the effort to travel there.
- Citizens from across Ohio are going to come together and protest Kasich’s fire-sale of Ohio to his corporate friends. We will show him that the 99 percent won’t sit back while he rewards his 1 percent campaign contributors.
- The days of rewarding campaign contributors with Ohio’s tax dollars are over.
- The corporate takeover of Ohio stops here.
To see pictures of today's rally, visit EcoWatch's Facebook page.
To learn more about hydraulic fracturing issues nationally and internationally, visit EcoWatch's Fracking page.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Unless you’ve been living under a shale rock, you know that on New Year’s Eve a 4.0 earthquake shook Youngstown, Ohio.
People as far away as Toronto, Ontario felt the tremor. And the political shock waves that hit the Statehouse in Columbus have yet to subside.
That’s because this quake threatened more than just dishes and wall hangings. This tremor threatens to shake up the routine practice of disposing of the billions of gallons of toxic-laced wastewater from oil and gas drilling in ancient geologic formations that lie deep beneath the Earth’s surface in Ohio.
And without ready access to Ohio’s 181 deep injection waste wells, the oil and gas industry’s plans to “frack” its way through the shale gas deposits that underlie much of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia could grind to a halt.
Each fracking job involves millions of gallons of water and tons of sand and chemicals to shatter the shale rock and release the trapped oil and gas. A significant portion of these fluids along with brine waters in the rock formations comes back to the surface along with the oil and gas. This wastewater must then be safely handled and disposed of.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, wastewater associated with shale gas extraction can contain high levels of total dissolved solids, fracturing fluid additives (which include a number of toxic constituents, including Benzene—which is known to cause cancer—Ethylbenzene, Toulene, Xylene and diesel fuel), metals and naturally occurring radioactive materials (including uranium, thorium, radium and lead-210).
About 15 percent of that water comes back up, tainted with salt, drilling chemicals and hazardous metals. After they’re “fracked,” the wells continue to produce brine that contains higher concentrations of salt, metals and minerals.
The State of Ohio requires disposal of oil and gas wastewater and brine in underground injection wells. During the first quarter of 2011, nearly half the brine that went into disposal wells in Ohio came from Pennsylvania and other states, according to state officials. That’s 1.18 million barrels of brine, enough to fill 76 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
New Year’s Eve wasn’t the first inkling that something had gone awry. According to regulators at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), an injection well in Youngstown Township experienced a score of low-level seismic events throughout 2011. The tremors were worrisome enough that ODNR invited Columbia University scientists to help pinpoint their source.
ODNR and Columbia scientists concluded that an earthquake occurred on Christmas Eve at approximately two miles below and one mile within the injection site. To his credit, ODNR Director James Zehringer promptly asked the disposal well operator to cease all operations. The tremors subsided—till Dec. 31.
The oil and gas industry suggests that the Youngstown event was an isolated one. Prominent research scientists disagree.
Columbia University scientists suggest it is no coincidence that the Youngstown earthquake was so proximate to the well site. They say the depth of the New Year’s Eve quake (approximately 1.7 miles) is different from that of a natural earthquake. They also believe the proximity in the time and space of the earthquakes matches operations at the injection well.
In response, State Rep. Bob Hagan (D-Youngstown) and other lawmakers have called for a moratorium on any new injection wells.
For months, industry spin doctors have assured Ohioans that some of the toughest regulations on the planet are in place to control oil and gas drilling. They’d have you believe that Ohio has done something that officials in neighboring Pennsylvania—a state racked by fracking incidents—somehow couldn’t figure out. Namely, erecting an impenetrable backstop of regulations capable of stopping most any runs, leaks or errors from fouling the environment, and yet still allow industry to tap the gas.
Industry’s blithe reassurances notwithstanding, the Ohio Environmental Council has released a series of reforms to shore up Ohio’s oil and gas waste disposal laws. This comprehensive package of safeguards— http://bit.ly/whzTvO—includes more meaningful public comment, mandatory seismic monitoring and first-ever groundwater monitoring.
Without strong public support, though, the Hagan moratorium and the OEC reforms may linger on a Statehouse shelf. Until a devastating frack-quake shakes Ohio.
Jack Shaner, Ohio Environmental Council's (OEC) deputy director, appeared before the Public Utilities Committee of the Youngstown City Council to share information and recommendations about the safe disposal of waste water from oil and gas production.
As with any industrial activity, the development of oil and gas—including the eventual disposal of waste water—involves risk. The people of Youngstown, of course, are well aware of one risk from the deep well injection of waste water: increased seismic activity (earthquakes).
The people of Youngstown are not alone in their concerns about oil and gas production and the associated disposal of waste water and brine water.
From the testimony:
"The production process for shale gas and oil involves the use of millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals to shatter the shale rock (Marcellus and Utica formations) and release the trapped oil and gas. A significant portion of these fluids along with brine waters in the rock formations comes back to the surface along with the oil and gas. This waste water must then be safely handled and disposed of.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, waste water associated with shale gas extraction can contain high levels of total dissolved solids (TDS), fracturing fluid additives (which include a number of toxic constituents, including Benzene—which is known to cause cancer—Ethylbenzene, Toulene, Xylene and diesel fuel), metals and naturally occurring radioactive materials (including uranium, thorium, radium and lead-210)."
The mission of the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) is to secure healthy air, land and water for all who call Ohio home. The OEC is Ohio’s leading advocate for fresh air, clean water and sustainable land use. The OEC has a 40-year history of innovation, pragmatism and success. Using legislative initiatives, legal action, scientific principles and statewide partnerships, the OEC secures a healthier environment for Ohio’s families and communities. For more information, visit www.theOEC.org.
Thank you to Ohio State Representatives Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown), Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-Columbus), Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), Mike Foley (D-Cleveland), Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati), Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Dan Ramos (D-Lorain), and Ohio State Senators Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus) and Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood) for their leadership at the Ohio Statehouse rally on Jan. 10 in support of a moratorium on fracking permits and wastewater disposal injection wells, and for asking Gov. John Kasich to protect the environment and public health by supporting SB 213/HB 345.
Hagan introduced legislation yesterday calling for a moratorium on injection wells in the state. Other lawmakers have sponsored bills that would halt drilling operations for oil and gas in Ohio until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finishes a study examining whether there is a link between fracking drill sites and contaminated drinking water.
Driehaus, who introduced the moratorium bill on fracking in the Ohio House of Representatives, said that it makes sense to wait until the federal government concludes its study before proceeding with more drilling activity.
The protest was organized by NO FRACK OHIO, a collaboration of more than 50 grassroots and conservation groups calling for further safeguards on horizontal hydraulic fracturing. More than 250 people attended the two-hour rally to voice their opposition to hydraulic fracturing—better known as fracking—and deep injection wastewater disposal wells asking for a statewide ban on fracking.
Thanks to everyone who attended yesterday's rally, which told our elected officials that creating jobs at the expense of human health and the environment is not sustainable. I had a chance to speak at the event and share my thoughts on the need for stronger support of renewable energy on the state and federal levels that will create green jobs to help our country transition to cleaner, renewable sources of energy. We need to provide incentives for the investment in renewable energy which is a first step in helping level the playing field between renewable and nonrenewable energy. Since the fossil fuel industry is so highly subsidized and externalizes much of its costs, the renewable energy industry cannot compete without the help of incentives.
To view more photos from yesterday's rally, click here.
Visit our fracking page to keep up-to-date on fracking issues worldwide.
On Jan. 10, more than 250 Ohioans assembled on the west lawn of the Ohio Statehouse to voice their opposition to hydraulic fracturing—better known as fracking—and deep injection wastewater disposal wells.
Leading the charge was State Rep. Robert Hagan (D-Youngstown), who last week called on Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) in a letter to implement an indefinite moratorium on D&L Energy's deep injection wells in Youngstown, Ohio, which has been rocked 11 times in the past nine months by earthquakes. Seismic surveys have corroborated that the two most recent earthquakes—on Christmas Eve and a 4.0 magnitude quake on New Year's Eve—had epicenters near D&L's deep injection wells.
Rep. Hagan called on Gov. Kasich to institute a moratorium on all deep injection wells within a five mile radius of the Youngstown site until Ohioans can be guaranteed that no correlation exists between the disposal wells and danger to the natural environment or human health.
“The people of Ohio and the people of the Mahoning Valley need answers from our government officials," said Rep. Hagan. "We need to know why over half of the toxic frack water we are blasting into Ohio lands is coming from Pennsylvania. We need to know why there is such a rush to dump this waste in Ohio. And we need to know why it took ten earthquakes in ten months for anyone in the Kasich administration to wake up and respond to calls for a moratorium on these wells. We never had an earthquake in Youngstown until John Kasich was elected governor.”
"What has occurred in the Mahoning Valley is deeply troubling," said State Rep. Tracy Heard (D-26). "It's evidently clear we must take a step back and examine fracking, not only the process but its potential impacts to our environment both long-term and short-term. I stand ready to work with my colleagues to find a solution that will protect the citizens of Ohio and our environment."
“Creating jobs at the expense of human health and the environment is not sustainable," said Stefanie Penn Spear, executive director of EcoWatch. "Ohio needs to bring back the incentives for renewable energy projects that support Ohio’s energy bill SB 221. Investment in renewable energy will create green jobs, revitalize our strong manufacturing base and provide long-term solutions to our energy needs without contaminating our drinking water, polluting our air, displacing communities and making people sick.”
Other speakers at today's event included:
- State Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood)
- State Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati)
- State Rep. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland)
- State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-47)
- Ohio State Senator Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood)
- Ohio State Senator Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus)
Today's speakers called on Gov. Kasich to protect the environment and public health by passing SB 213/HB 345, which would impose a moratorium on fracking permits and wastewater disposal injection wells. Currently, Ohio is home to 177 deep injection well sites.
The protest was organized by NO FRACK OHIO, a collaboration of more than 50 grassroots and conservation groups calling for further safeguards on horizontal hydraulic fracturing.
Visit our fracking page to keep up-to-date on fracking issues worldwide.
On Jan. 10 at 1 p.m. on the west lawn of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, concerned citizens from all over the state will gather to ask Gov. John Kasich to impose an indefinite moratorium on Ohio's oil and gas wastewater injection well sites and the natural gas extraction process that has become well known as fracking, until further research and proper regulations are put in place to protect human health and the environment.
This protest is in response to the 11 earthquakes that have hit the Youngstown, Ohio area since March 2011. The most recent earthquake, with a 4.0 magnitude that was felt nearly 200 miles away, shook the community on New Year's Eve. Won-Young Kim, a research professor of seismology geology at Columbia University who is advising the state of Ohio on the Dec. 31 earthquake, said that circumstantial evidence suggests a link between the earthquake and high-pressure well activity. Kim said he believes that the recent earthquake did not occur naturally and may have been caused by high-pressure liquid injection related to oil and gas exploration and production.
Fracking is a method of gas extraction that involves injecting a brew of toxic, heavy metal lubricants, chemicals and sand deep underground to fracture rock formations that release oil and gas. Hydraulic fracturing uses enormous quantities of fresh water, which gas companies take from nearby streams, ponds and rivers, or truck in if there is no immediate water source. Every time a gas well is fracked, four to nine million gallons of water are injected into the ground with a secret brew of chemicals. A single well can be fracked up to 12 times, totaling more than 100 million gallons of freshwater used in the lifetime of a well.
Some of the fracking fluid used in the process of breaking apart the shale remains underground, but a large majority of it comes back to the surface mixed with hazardous chemicals, volatile organic compounds, and even radioactive material that was trapped underground and released in the process. This wastewater is then trucked to a disposal well and pumped back underground. With millions of gallons of hazardous liquid created during this process, a major challenge for the natural gas industry and regulators, has been the disposal of this toxic byproduct of fracking.
It is this toxic wastewater that is being high-pressure injected into many of Ohio's deep wells, as far down as 9,000 feet, and blamed for the recent Youngstown earthquakes. Thanks to Ohio's geology and the Kasich administration, along with other elected officials, Ohio now receives about 1,000 truckloads of frackwater everyday at disposal wells around Ohio. Ohio is home to 177 oil and gas wastewater injection well sites, 10 times more than surrounding states. More than half of the fracking wastewater coming into Ohio is from out of state, including from New York and Pennsylvania.
Concerns on how to dispose of fracking wastewater are only one of the problems associated with natural gas extraction. Fracking has been linked to more than 1,000 incidents of groundwater contamination across the U.S., including cases where people can actually ignite their tap water. There is no doubt that proper regulations on the state and federal levels are lacking.
In New York state, opponents of fracking are asking lawmakers to extend the moratorium that was put into place in 2010, due to concerns that hydraulic fracturing, without proper regulation, could pollute groundwater.
Concerns over the extraction of natural gas are experienced worldwide and impact rural, suburban and urban communities. The number of anti-fracking groups is growing every day. Frustrations are running high as the U.S. continues to lack a sustainable energy policy that puts a cap on carbon and supports investment in renewable energy generation and manufacturing instead of supporting extreme fossil fuel extraction.
On the federal level and in Ohio and many other states, incentives for renewable energy projects and manufacturing need to be put back in place. Three years ago we were making some progress in moving toward a sustainable energy supply. But over the last couple years, states and the federal government have stripped away the incentives that were a first step in leveling the playing field between renewable and nonrenewable energy. Since the fossil fuel industry is so highly subsidized and externalizes much of its costs, the renewable energy industry cannot compete without the help of incentives.
In Ohio, we passed SB 221 in July 2008. It mandates that 25 percent of Ohio's electricity generation come from advanced energy sources by 2025 with 12.5 percent from renewable sources including hydro. Half of the renewable energy generation has to come from within the state. It even contains a 0.5 percent solar carve out that has increased the value of solar renewable energy credits in the state. Coupled with this legislation was the Ohio Advanced Energy Fund grant program that provided a financial incentive to invest in renewable energy projects. However, the legislature failed to renew this grant program in 2010 and the number of projects in our state has greatly declined.
Creating jobs at the expense of human health and the environment is not sustainable. Energy generation is not a job vs. the environment issue. It's a need for a cleaner environment creating jobs—green jobs that will transition our country to relying on cleaner, renewable sources of energy. Investment in renewable energy will create jobs, revitalize our strong manufacturing base and provide long-term solutions to our energy needs without contaminating our drinking water, polluting our air, displacing communities and making people sick.
I know there's no perfect solution or silver bullet that will generate all the world's energy needs, but it is clear that supporting extreme fossil fuel extraction—like fracking, mountaintop removal coal mining, tar sands mining or building pipelines like the proposed Keystone XL that would take the most toxic and corrosive oil from Alberta, Canada and pipe it through the breadbasket of America to ship it overseas—is not the answer. Energy efficiency, investment in distributed generation and grid-feeding renewable energy projects, rebuilding the electric grid, and investment in battery storage and innovative energy technologies is the direction our country needs to take.
The next several months are going to be interesting. As of right now, according to the House Energy & Commerce Committee clock, Obama has 43 days to decide on the Keystone XL pipeline as stated in the payroll tax-cut extension bill passed at the end of last year. Gov. Anthony Cuomo will decide on the fate of New York's moratorium on fracking as early as this week. Ohioans will speak out on Tuesday concerning their fears of continued natural gas extraction and disposal of toxic wastewater in their state. Public comments are being accepted on Obama's proposal to allow drilling in the pristine Arctic Ocean and increased drilling in the Gulf of Mexico before adequate safety standards are in effect. Regulations aimed at limiting harmful power plant pollution that crosses state lines (including sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, which annually would prevent 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 heart attacks and 400,000 cases of asthma) have been put on hold by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Appeals Court in Washington. Unfortunately, the list goes on.
I've been working in the grassroots environmental movement for more than 23 years. I've never seen so many people so worried about the health of the planet and concerned for future generations as we continue to consume resources at an unprecedented rate, and allow corporations to run our government and privatize our natural resources. I've also never seen such incredible grassroots leadership and collaboration among environmental organizations as we have today. Like I said, the next several months are going to be really interesting. Be sure to stay-tuned to EcoWatch.org as we keep you up-to-date on all the issues.
Until March 17, 2011—St. Patrick's Day—Youngstown, Ohio had never officially recorded an earthquake. New Year's Eve 2011 had Youngstown residents trembling for the 11th time in under nine months. Making matters worse, the Dec. 31 quake registered a magnitude 4.0 on the Richter scale—the most powerful quake yet, felt across hundreds of square miles, ranging from Canada to West Virginia.
At the epicenter of the sudden jolt in seismic activity is the Ohio Works Drive fluid injection well, operated by D&L Energy Group affiliate Northstar Disposal Services LLC. The site—just outside of downtown Youngstown—is a 9,200 foot-deep disposal for brine wastewater—a byproduct of hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking. Ohio is home to 176 other injection deep well sites.
On the heels of the New Year's Eve earthquake, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), an outspoken drilling proponent, issued a moratorium on wastewater wells within a five-mile radius of the Youngstown site until the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) can more clearly review the situation and its impacts on public health and safety.
Rep. Bob Hagan (D-Youngstown) called on Gov. Kasich in a letter on Jan. 5 to institute an indefinite moratorium on the injection wells until Ohioans can be guaranteed that there's no detrimental correlation between the natural environment and the wells.
To read Rep. Hagan's letter to Gov Kasich, click here.
Rep. Hagan's chief concern is the ability for ODNR and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to objectively assess the situation, as these organizations are, according to Hagan, "steeped in communications regarding the positive aspects of oil and gas exploration in the state, while ignoring some potentially very serious implications of components such as waste disposal."
Despite compelling evidence linking the recent Youngstown earthquakes to D&L's wastewater injection wells—in addition to a growing number of high-profile water contamination incidents in Dimock, Pa. and more recently in Pavillion, Wy.—regulations to keep citizens safe are lagging.
According to the Youngstown Vindicator, D&L has "a history of at least 120 violations at 32 injection and extraction wells in Ohio and Pennsylvania during the past decade."
To date, the company faces no fines for wrongdoing, although regulators have documented a "lack of correction action."
Tell Gov. Kasich and the ODNR you want stronger safeguards for fracking by clicking here.
For more information, click here.
A Don’t Frack Ohio rally is being held on Jan. 10 at 1 p.m. at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. Speakers will include Rep. Bob Hagan (D-Youngstown), and representatives from communities impacted by oil and gas drilling and injection well sites. For more information on the fracking protest, click here.
Seven protesters arrested for blockading trucks containing highly toxic waste water produced from hydraulic fracturing on Nov. 30 were on trial in Youngstown. The action was carried out in response to the D&L Energy owned injection well in Youngstown, which is injecting waste water from Pennsylvania and Ohio deep into the ground.
In a courtroom packed with local supporters and members of Occupy Youngstown the seven were charged with M1 Disorderly Conduct, which carries a maximum 30-day term of confinement and a $250 fine per arrestee. Defendants entered a plea of “no contest” which accepts the facts but does not admit guilt. After being declared guilty of the reduced charge of M4 Disorderly Conduct protesters were fined $50 and court fees on recommendation of judge and prosecutor.
The Youngstown injection well has caused eight nearby earthquakes since March of 2011—seven of these with an epicenter located at the well. Arrested activist Ben Shapiro said, “Well casings and cement break and degrade in the best of circumstances leaking highly toxic chemicals, it’s far more dangerous at the epicenter of these earthquakes. How in the world can V&M Star and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources think this can be safe anywhere for our drinking water?”
Jaime Frederick of Youngstown Ohio has been sick ever since a fracked well on a neighboring property was drilled and known fracking fluid contaminants entered her well. “I was being poisoned and didn’t know it. My gall bladder had completely stopped working. I kept getting sicker and sicker.”
People across the country are pointing to the direct action that took place in Youngstown, Ohio, as an example of how citizens are willing to take a stand against the fracking industry. An example of this is Sandra Steingraber, an environmental biologist that mentioned the Ohio activists in her testimony against injection wells for fracking waste at a New York State Public hearing.
Fracking threatens citizens by exposing them to millions of gallons of water polluted with known toxins and carcinogens such as benzene, formaldehyde, heavy metals and surfactants. These chemicals cause extreme health effects including cancer and brain damage from endocrine disruption. A recent well leak in Broadview Heights sickened neighbors while local emergency responders could do nothing for 24 hours. In Chester Township 85 gallons of crude oil, gas and toxic waste water shot 20 feet in the air.
According to defendant Sean O’Toole, a 61-year old retired veteran and local resident, “hydrofracking companies causing irreparable damage to the land and people should be prosecuted and not those seeking to protect safe drinking water and community health. What’s going on is radical, not me.”