March 26, 2023 2:28 pm

(Photo Illustration/MetroCreative)

Ohio HB 507 was rushed by way of the “lame duck” session with no any public comments. This bill, which facilitates fracking on our public lands, becomes a law on April 7. As soon as that occurs, the Ohio Oil and Gas Land Management Commission will be in manage of leasing processes. They are making guidelines and lease agreement types for the state parcels “nominated for fracking.” Having said that, till the guidelines are in spot, leases can be executed “without public notices, with no public comments, and with no competitive bidding or oversight by the commission to safeguard the public interests.”

In contrast to New York, which banned fracking primarily based on various wellness research, Ohio has embraced the sector with open arms and a lackadaisical attitude toward regulations safeguarding the land, air, water and citizens’ wellness. Our state lands are now open for oil and gas extraction and we are faced with an not possible job: attempting to preserve our forests and parks from an extractive sector. In a February meeting of the commission, Ohio citizens asked for a minimum 60-day comment period, advance notification of the parcels becoming regarded as, parcel facts such as maps, and variables becoming regarded as in producing choices.

I attended the March 1 commission meeting, but citizens have been prohibited from speaking or asking queries. Alternatively, the majority of the meeting was allocated to the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD), who discussed their pretty profitable lengthy-term association with the oil and gas sector and their template for lease agreements.

When the MWCD claims their mission is flood reduction, conservation, and recreation, soon after their presentation, 1 may possibly say their mission is to make funds, lots of funds. In reality, “no 1 has benefited financially as considerably as the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District Ohio’s No. 1 beneficiary of drilling.”

The MWCD has created millions of dollars on water sales, fracking leases, and royalties. On top of that, the MWCD gathers charges from boaters who use the lakes, property leases, park charges, funds from timbering, and charges from flood protection assessments.

Citing the MWCD royalty variety (18%-20%) as a template, the commission set 12.five % as the minimum royalty charge for state lands, saying they “are almost certainly leaving dollars on the table.” There is tiny doubt our state lands are becoming viewed as funds makers, not public lands exactly where Ohio’s citizens can delight in nature or exactly where biodiversity is protected. Ohio’s citizens personal these lands and tax dollars assistance these agencies, but it is doubtful we will have a seat at the table when it comes to deciding which lands can be leased.

Muskingum’s land manager Nate Wilson, described how their leases (MWCD) “require added setbacks (three,000 feet), testing, and added containment facilities in case of accidents.” But, their input into the method ends there. The Ohio Division of All-natural Sources has shown they lack the capacity to enforce violations or levy fines and the sector added benefits from exemptions of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Protected Drinking Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Emergency Preparing and Neighborhood Ideal-to Know Act.

MWCD Executive Director Craig Butler stated they (MWCD) “do not place surface building on MWCD lands, but we do have pipeline access and gathering line access and water lines and these sorts of items.” It is nonetheless unclear if our state lands will be impacted by drilling pads. Corporations could possibly use a “separate written surface use agreement” to construct effectively pads on state lands.

The widespread use of higher-stress hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has turned rural locations of SE Ohio into industrial zones. I travel along Routes 151, 250 and 646 in the Tappan Lake location of the MWCD watershed and see endless pipelines cutting across hillsides. Wells pads, access roads, water withdraw lines and infrastructure are devouring the landscape. Is this what we want for our state lands?

A lot of Ohioans chose to reside in rural locations since of the beauty the forests and hills offer. Genuine stewards of the atmosphere safeguard valuable sources for future generations they do not destroy them for economic gains. No quantity of funds or extravagant marina is worth exposing our kids to toxic chemical substances and pollution from an unregulated sector. Our rural communities have turn into sacrificial zones at the mercy of the fossil fuel sector.

Proponents of fracking only tout the monetary gains and continue to ignore the lengthy-term wellness effects related with fracking. They ignore the increases in methane emissions which are fueling climate transform and contributing to the collapse of ecosystems planet-wide. They permit radioactive leachate to enter our waterways. They overlook the millions of gallons of radioactive created water and carcinogenic chemical substances that travel along our rural roads each day. Accidents involving trucks and tankers have improved by 14 % in fracked locations of Ohio.

The current train derailment in East Palestine reminds us of how simply 1 error can permanently alter the lives of thousands of men and women and forever taint the atmosphere. Till Ohio puts wellness, security, and a clean atmosphere ahead of the interests of the fossil fuel sector, we can only wonder what will be left of our state lands and rural communities in the aftermath of this rush to frack.


Randi Pokladnik, Ph.D., of Uhrichsville, is a retired study chemist who volunteers with Mid Ohio Valley Climate Action. She has a doctorate degree in Environmental Research and is certified in Hazardous Supplies Regulations.

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