Portage County residents call for ban on fracking at city council meeting

Courtney Kerrigan

A ban on hydraulic fracturing was at the heart of Wednesday’s city council meeting, drawing in an audience of more than 50 people as residents stood up to ask for a ban on the process in Kent.

Although more signed up to speak, council members decided to put the ordinance on committee for discussion after just nine people spoke.

The ordinance calls for a Bill of Rights for Kent residents and a ban on fracking in the city.

“I’m glad that they did that,” said Mary Greer, Shalersville resident. “We have a chance to bring back a bigger group and a very critical issue.”

Greer is a member of Concerned Citizens Ohio, a local anti-fracking group, and organized for Portage County residents to attend the meeting. Council members placed a limit of three and a half minutes each to speak.

Hydraulic fracturing is the process of blasting water, sand and chemicals into the ground to extract natural gas and oil from the shale formation.

Sam Lasko, freshman exploratory major and Greer’s grandson, spoke at the meeting, focusing on six studies that have shown fracking to be dangerous to the climate and to people’s health.

“It’s the first time I’ve been to something like this,” he said. “I think [council] got a pretty good idea of what people think of [fracking].”

Lasko added that his grandmother has been an inspiration to him with her involvement in advocating against fracking.

“She’s been a huge influence on me,” he said.

Others stood up to speak, including Lasko’s mother, Abigail Greer, to emphasize downfalls of fracking such as water and air pollution, health issues, injection well contamination and traffic congestion, among other things.

“Kent has a tradition of high quality tap water,” said Abigail. “We would like to see that remain.”

No representative from the opposite side of the issue was present at the meeting.

The next council meeting is Wednesday, April 4, in which members will discuss the ordinance on fracking.

Contact Courtney Kerrigan at [email protected].