The Greene Environmental Coalition is making available a letter addressed to the Ohio General Assembly asking for a moratorium on horizontal hydraulic fracturing in Ohio. A copy of the letter is appended at the end of this post.
"The letter explains the problems with the process and the need to address it before Ohio suffers as Pennsylvania, New York and some western states have," Vicki Hennessy wrote in an email. "Please sign on if you wish to support a moratorium in Ohio."
Letters will be gathered together from groups around the state and delivered to the General Assembly members on March 7th.
For more information on hydraulic fracturing see the GEC website - www.greenlink.org.
Ohio General Assembly
Columbus, OH 43215
March 7, 2011
Dear Members of the 129th Ohio General Assembly:
The plans for industrial-scale drilling in the Marcellus and Utica formations of Ohio pose a direct and material threat to the interests of the undersigned organizations and our tens of thousands of individual members throughout the State of Ohio.
The use of high volume hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling of the deep shale formation presents significant risk to public health, safety and the environment. As the use of this relatively new technology has increased nationally, the number of documented spills, blowouts, leaking wells, and other accidents is shocking and the environmental and human consequences have been very serious. For example:
• An explosion and fire at the Chesapeake Appalachia LLC Powers gas well site in Avella, PA, injured three workers on February 23, 2011. DEP investigators reportedly found the fire started as a result of fumes escaping five tanks capable of holding a total of 21,000 gallons of flammable fluid known as wet gas or condensate, contained in natural gas.
• Methane and other toxins contaminated an aquifer serving 19 families in Dimock, Pennsylvania, resulting in a $4.1 million dollar settlement against Cabot Oil and Gas.
• Wells in Sublette County, Wyoming, contaminated with a variety of toxic compounds used in hydraulic fracturing, including benzene, a toxic chemical known to cause leukemia and aplastic anemia, at 1500 times the safe level for people. Similarly, 1.6 million gallons of hydraulic fracturing fluids escaped into the ground water in Parachute, Colorado
• A study by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality found that pollutants from natural gas drilling in the Barnett Shale field were greater than those produced by all of the vehicular traffic in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.
In addition, the withdrawal of millions of gallons of fresh water required for such operations’ hydraulic fracturing cycle will not only significantly impact Ohio’s water resources, but seriously infringe upon the constitutionally protected property rights in groundwater for an untold number of landowners. Further, due to the absence of local zoning and surface property protections, and use of mandatory pooling, landowners face losing essential property interests.
The state lacks the strong and necessary regulations, enforcement capacity, and water treatment capacity, to protect Ohioans and Ohio’s natural environment as it relates to this industrial activity. Recently passed SB 165 did not contemplate nor incorporate any protections specific to the unprecedented scale and foreseeable risk of deep-shale drilling and horizontal hydraulic fracturing.
Therefore, the undersigned organizations and individuals conclude that deep-shale hydraulic fracturing presents an unacceptable risk and is not safe under current conditions. Thus, we urge the General Assembly to immediately issue a moratorium ordering the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to withhold approval of new well permits involving high volume hydraulic fracturing of horizontal shale, exploration, or extraction until such time as these drilling practices are demonstrated to be safe for the environment and human health and are properly and effectively regulated.