Opinion: Ohio Needs Tougher Regulations on Fracking



Rachel Godin

Rachel Godin

Rachel Godin is a sophomore journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

Home is where the hurt is. Portage County is Ohio’s capitol for fracking waste disposal. According to Don’t Frack Ohio’s website, 75 million gallons of fracking water waste was disposed of in Portage County just last year. Why? Because Ohio regulates its own disposal wells and charges extremely low prices to drill. According to a Mother Jones article written in July by Thomas Stackpole, a well permit costs only $1,000 and the waiting period to receive approval to drill a new well is only five weeks.

Energy-in-depth’s website explained that in order for Ohio to maintain control over its own wells, “it must continue to demonstrate an ability to effectively manage and regulate the program to the EPA, while also being audited by that agency on a regular basis.” Governor Kasich’s actions contradict this goal and place citizens in danger.

Ohio’s regulations need to be tougher on corporate giants. Ohio has the option to use prices as a preventative measure and minimize negative environmental and health risks, but is not yet doing so.

Fracking waste is pumped into wells that are subject to softer regulations than other disposal wells, while older, repurposed wells, which are common in Ohio, are not required to run by current standards. In 2011, The Environmental Protection Agency assigned over one million dollars, the single largest penalty ever assessed to any oil and gas operator, to Chesapeake for contaminating Pennsylvania’s water supply.

Who can we trust? Unfortunately, the EPA backed out of a huge investigation into water contamination in Wyoming this year and, according to The LA Times reporter Neela Banerjee, they’ve also been hiding dangerous investigation findings: “In an internal EPA PowerPoint presentation…staff members warned their superiors that several wells had been contaminated with methane and substances such as manganese and arsenic…Rather than investigate water contamination, EPA is letting corruption run wild and violators get off scott-free.”

Large corporations seem to have a way of defying the old American cliché, “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.” Drilling companies can pick up and leave whenever they’ve exhausted the worth of a drill — leaving us with a questionably infected environment. FracTracker.org said there are currently 1,987 Temporarily Abandoned Disposal wells in Ohio. Kent State sits 1.6 miles away from the closest abandoned disposal site, which sits 0.1 miles off of the Portage Hike and Bike trail heading toward Ravenna.

The Obama administration supports fracking-derived natural gas because it releases less carbon dioxide than coal, but it seems like we’re just substituting air pollution for water supply pollution.

You don’t have to be a hippie or a full-fledged environmentalist to dislike the fact that Portage County is home to 160,000 individuals who are potentially at risk of being exploited and harmed by fracking. It’s our home, not their dumping ground.