VOICES: Dirty and dangerous fracking is coming to Ohio state parks and public lands

The frackers are coming, and they want more than Ohio’s oil and natural gas deposits.

They want power to pollute our clean air, poison our groundwater, rivers and streams and increase the chance that we’ll get certain cancers.

And our supermajority Republican Party-dominated legislature has handed it to them.

H.B. 507, a new state law co-sponsored by Butler County’s Sen. George Lang and Rep. Sara Carruthers and signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine, requires Ohio DNR to lease Ohio state parks and public lands for oil drilling and fracking. At least one landowner adjacent to Salt Fork State Park has already expressed eminent domain concerns.

Fracking is dirty and dangerous. Neither Ohio nor federal law requires public disclosure of fracking fluid ingredients injected deep underground to bring up natural gas. This means oil companies can include solvents, waste products and voltaic organic compounds (VOCs) in fracking fluid. And they do. There have been low-level earthquakes in eastern Ohio and other states linked to fracking since the early 2000s. And though Big Oil claims fracking fluid and its wastewater are injected deep into the earth—perfectly safe, folks!— the more we frack and swiss-cheese the earth beneath us, the more we risk creating tectonic shifts that can release those toxins, allowing them to percolate into our groundwater--our drinking water.

If Ohio groundwater is poisoned, who pays to clean it up? How could it be cleaned up, when an average of four million gallons of water are used to frack just one well? In Ohio, there are already 4,000 active oil wells and 900 abandoned oil and natural gas wells. The oil and gas industry needs strict state and federal oversight and regulation, not a blank check to exploit our Marcellus Shale, especially when wind and solar capacity is already slated to outstrip natural gas and coal by 2024.

Big Oil’s reputation for self-regulation in Ohio is notably poor. In 2018, a fracking well at Powhatan Point in Belmont County on the Ohio River exploded and spewed methane gas into the air at the rate of 120 million tons per hour per hour for nearly 20 days.

American and Dutch scientists, who spotted the leak by satellite, agreed Powhatan was likely the largest methane leak in U.S. history. The amount of methane released into the air was more than the entire countries of France, Norway and the Netherlands combined in a year.

Methane leaks and flares occur as part of oil and gas production. Methane contributes 30 percent of global carbon emissions, too. Methane is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere. Carbon warms the planet.

While many of us recycle, eat less meat, pick up litter and plant trees in humble attempts to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees, Big Oil will negate all of our work-- if we allow it.

Demand your state legislators — including Gov. Mike DeWine — stop implementation of H.B. 507 and fracking in Ohio state parks and public lands.

Melinda Zemper is a writer, mother and grandmother in West Chester, Ohio.

About the Author