(Photo Illustration/MetroCreative)

Ohio HB 507 was rushed by way of the “lame duck” session without having any public comments. This bill, which facilitates fracking on our public lands, becomes a law on April 7. When that occurs, the Ohio Oil and Gas Land Management Commission will be in handle of leasing processes. They are developing guidelines and lease agreement types for the state parcels “nominated for fracking.” On the other hand, till the guidelines are in spot, leases can be executed “without public notices, without having public comments, and without having competitive bidding or oversight by the commission to safeguard the public interests.”

As opposed to New York, which banned fracking primarily based on a lot of wellness research, Ohio has embraced the business 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 process: attempting to preserve our forests and parks from an extractive business. In a February meeting of the commission, Ohio citizens asked for a minimum 60-day comment period, advance notification of the parcels getting deemed, parcel facts like maps, and things getting deemed in creating 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 quite profitable lengthy-term association with the oil and gas business and their template for lease agreements.

Even though the MWCD claims their mission is flood reduction, conservation, and recreation, soon after their presentation, one particular could say their mission is to make cash, lots of cash. In reality, “no one particular 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. In addition, the MWCD gathers costs from boaters who use the lakes, dwelling leases, park costs, cash from timbering, and costs 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 likely leaving dollars on the table.” There is small doubt our state lands are getting viewed as cash makers, not public lands exactly where Ohio’s citizens can appreciate nature or exactly where biodiversity is protected. Ohio’s citizens personal these lands and tax dollars help 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 more setbacks (three,000 feet), testing, and more containment facilities in case of accidents.” But, their input into the method ends there. The Ohio Division of Organic Sources has shown they lack the capability to enforce violations or levy fines and the business 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 Proper-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 forms of points.” 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 properly 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 region 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?

Several Ohioans chose to reside in rural locations due to the fact of the beauty the forests and hills give. Genuine stewards of the atmosphere safeguard valuable sources for future generations they do not destroy them for monetary gains. No quantity of cash or extravagant marina is worth exposing our youngsters to toxic chemical compounds and pollution from an unregulated business. Our rural communities have grow to be sacrificial zones at the mercy of the fossil fuel business.

Proponents of fracking only tout the monetary gains and continue to ignore the lengthy-term wellness effects connected with fracking. They ignore the increases in methane emissions which are fueling climate adjust and contributing to the collapse of ecosystems globe-wide. They let radioactive leachate to enter our waterways. They overlook the millions of gallons of radioactive made water and carcinogenic chemical compounds that travel along our rural roads every single day. Accidents involving trucks and tankers have elevated by 14 % in fracked locations of Ohio.

The current train derailment in East Palestine reminds us of how conveniently one particular error can permanently alter the lives of thousands of persons and forever taint the atmosphere. Till Ohio puts wellness, security, and a clean atmosphere ahead of the interests of the fossil fuel business, 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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