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Ohio and fracking

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This article is part of the FrackSwarm portal on SourceWatch, a project of CoalSwarm and the Center for Media and Democracy. To search by topic or location, click here.

This article is part of the FrackSwarm coverage of fracking.
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Location of potential Marcellus and Utica shales in Ohio

According to the industry-funded Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program, Ohio contains an estimated 20 trillion cubic feet of "untapped" natural gas with a value of over $100 billion. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimates that, in addition to natural gas and shale gas, 1.3 to 5.5 billion barrels of tight oil may be contained within Ohio, with a market value of up to $550 billion.[1]

The gas and oil is contained in rock shale deep in the earth and removed through a chemical- and water-intensive process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. A portion of this mixture, called “brine”, bubbles back to the surface as wastewater. The fluids are typically disposed of in Ohio by pumping them back into the ground into disposal “injection wells,”[2] which have been linked to a series of earthquakes in previously non-seismically active areas of the state.[3]

History

In 2011, Gov. Kasich signed a law passed by Ohio's Republican-controlled legislature allowing drilling companies to frack in state parks. In November 2011, the United States Forest Service (USFS) withdrew more than 3,000 acres of public lands in southern Ohio from a federal oil and gas lease sale scheduled for December 7, 2012. The USFS announced that it needed more time to review the potential effects of fracking after receiving petitions and letters from concerned local leaders.[4]

In the first statewide poll on hydraulic fracturing (January 2012), 59 percent of those polled said they had heard of or read about the method, and 72 percent said hydro-fracking should be halted until it is studied further. The poll of 1,610 registered voters was conducted from Jan. 9 to Jan. 16 by Quinnipiac University.[5]

As part of his 2012 budget, Governor Kasich proposed a decrease in the natural gas severance tax and an increase in the gas liquids tax to 4%, a rate that locals point out would still leave Ohio behind other states like Texas (7.5% for natural gas and 4.6% on gas liquids). An April 2012 ODNR report indicated that the Ohio shale is producing much less oil and much more natural gas than had been previously estimated, which the think tank Innovation Ohio said "further highlight[ed] the weakness of the Governor’s tax changes":[6] "Governor Kasich’s proposal to 'modernize' Ohio’s severance tax rates actually lowers the tax on natural gas, while increasing it on oil. Given that our first batch of wells are cranking out gas far ahead of schedule, with oil lagging, this plan may represent a gift to the industry; one that could result in considerable lost revenue for the state of Ohio."[7][8]

In March 2012, Gov. Kasich promoted a plan to expand fees on Ohio’s oil and natural gas industry and cut income taxes. The plan is for the fee expansion on fossil fuels to pay for an income tax cut. Progressive think tank Innovation Ohio called the tax expansion a “giveaway to oil companies,” generating $19 a year for a family making $50,000 annually. Innovation Ohio estimates that once all the income tax cuts are in place, the same family would save just $65 each year; most benefits would largely go to the wealthiest Ohioans. Kasich said it’s still too early to know how significant tax cuts would be because it’s unclear how much revenue the fossil fuels tax would generate.

Several weeks after Kasich's plan was announced, fellow Republicans, who control the General Assembly, "remain[ed] lukewarm on the plan," according to ABC News. In response, Kasich began taking his message to the public by speaking to Chambers of Commerce and news outlets. [9] Media Matters has suggested the divide between Kasich and other Republicans is not nearly as large as the media has portrayed, and that "even Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, which was 'consulted' about the proposal, is tentatively approving the tax plan and giving Kasich the 'benefit of the doubt' regarding any potential concerns about increased taxation."[10]

Earthquakes

FracTracker analyzes earthquake patterns

On New Year’s Eve 2011, a 4.0 magnitude earthquake was recorded in Ohio. This and a series of other quakes in the region have been linked to a disposal well for injecting wastewater used in the fracking process by seismologists at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Wastewater from the fracking process is either recycled or trucked off site to be injected in a deep underground well. As the pressurized water is pushed below ground it can cause earthquakes on ancient faultlines. In response to the findings, the state is considering tougher rules on drilling. Governor John Kasich has been a strong proponent of fracking.

In January 2012, Ohio regulators asked D&L Energy, a company that carries out fracking near Youngstown, to stop re-injecting waste water from hydraulic fracturing while an investigation was opened up into the cause of 12 earthquakes in the area (including a 4.0-magnitude quake on New Year’s Eve)--an area not considered seismically active. The site is at the bottom of a 9,200-foot-deep injection disposal well. Geological experts say the reinjected brine water could find its way into subterranean faults and force parts of the planet to separate, causing tremors.[11] The earthquakes started in March 2011, about the same period that the major injection activities started.[12]

According to Michael C. Hansen, state geologist and coordinator of the Ohio Seismic Network, there is "little doubt" that the earthquake was related to injection wells. James Zehyringer, director of the Department of Natural Resources, announced that two 9,000-foot-deep injection wells in Youngstown Township owned by Northstar Disposal Services and operated by D&L Energy would be closed.[13]

On March 9, 2012, Ohio oil and gas regulators issued a preliminary report “on the relationship between the Northstar 1 Class II disposal well and 12 Youngstown area earthquakes.” The report found "a number of co-occurring circumstances strongly indicating the Youngstown area earthquakes were induced." In response, Ohio regulators said new safeguards would be added to Ohio’s existing disposal well regulatory framework, including prohibiting any new wells to be drilled into the Precambrian basement rock formation; mandating that operators submit extensive geological data before drilling; and implementing state-of-the-art pressure and volume monitoring devices including automatic shut-off switches and electronic data recorders.[14]

In 2013, the Journal of Geophysical Research paper, "Induced seismicity associated with fluid injection into a deep well in Youngstown, Ohio," concluded that "the recent earthquakes in Youngstown, Ohio were induced by the fluid injection at a deep injection" and that the data "may indicate that the earthquakes were directly caused by the pressure buildup and stopped when pressure dropped."[15]

In April 2014 a state investigation of five small tremors the previous month in the Youngstown area concluded a "probable" link between the tremors and fracking in the region, marking the first time tremors in the region were tied directly to the fracking process itself, rather than the injection of wastewater.[16]

Drilling wells

  • Click here for a listing of oil, gas, and shale well permits registered with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
  • Click here for an interactive map of drilling wells in eastern Ohio.

There are 64,378 active wells in Ohio as of 2012, most of them “stripper” wells producing fewer than 10 barrels of oil a day or less than 60,000 cubic feet a day of natural gas.[17]

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources as of January 2012, permits have been issued for nearly 140 wells in Ohio for the purpose of drilling into the Utica or Marcellus Shale horizontally, at 3,000 feet or more below the surface. Most of the well sites still are not yet active, but 38 are recorded as either have been drilled or are the site of current drilling.[18] Permits were issued, but not yet active, for 75 locations in eastern Ohio. The largest share of the well locations is in Carroll County, with 38 permitted locations. There were 15 in Jefferson County and 10 in Columbiana County.[19]

New permits are being issued quickly. According to Innovation Ohio, March 2012 broke the record for new natural gas permits, with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources approving 37 wells, ahead of the 27 in February and 19 in January, looking like 2012 will quickly surpass 2011’s total of 100 new permits. "These new permits bring the total to 194 permitted wells in Ohio, of which 19 are drilling, 37 are drilled, 11 are producing, and 12 are completed."[20]

Public lands

Ohio passed a law in September 2011 that opened its parks and other state-held lands for drilling, and officials have been developing leasing terms for drilling companies. Eastern Ohio is in the midst of a natural gas boom as developers seek to capture rights to Utica Shale deposits.

In April 2012, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources state made public its proposed rules for drilling in state parks, which would require natural gas and oil companies to stay at least 300 feet — the length of a football field — from campgrounds, certain waterways and sites deemed historically or archaeologically valuable. It's unclear whether the 300-foot buffer rule in Ohio will be applied above ground or below. The Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the Ohio DNR, saying the agency failed to follow the state's public records law by ignoring requests for regulatory documents as far back as October 2011.[21]

Officials with the Wayne National Forest, in southeastern Ohio, decided to remove about 3,300 acres of park property from federal auction for oil and gas exploration because of concerns about the impact of fracking on forest land.[22]

On July 11, 2012, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed an Executive Order reasserting the federal prohibition against the Ohio Department of Natural Resources issuing any permit, license, or lease allowing oil and gas drilling in or under Lake Erie.[23]

Targeting activist opposition

When the Ohio Department of Natural Resources drafted its August 2012 outline of its communication plan for allowing oil and gas drilling on public lands, the document warned that "eco-left pressure groups" would be key influencers seeking to stop the drilling and would "attempt to create public panic" about health risks related to fracking.

The plan listed companies like Halliburton, as well as associations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association as "allied" groups on behalf of the state's initiative. Groups like the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Ohio Environmental Council, as well as two state legislators, are listed as the "opposition."

A spokesman for Gov. Kasich's office acknowledged to the Associated Press that several of the governor's top advisers had met with DNR officials about the plan, as an email related to the communications plan had indicated. But state officials say the plan was not implemented.[24]

Water use

Several companies have contracts with Ohio cities that allow the drillers to draw from drinking water reservoirs.

Agency records and emails obtained by the Columbus Dispatch in 2012 show that Ohio DNR officials, who manage state parks and forests as well as regulate drilling, have been discussing plans that would grant access to state-owned reservoirs, lakes, and streams to supply the water for drilling companies to hydraulically fracture the state's Utica Shale wells. The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District announced that it would not sell water from six reservoirs until a water-availability study was completed. District officials have asked the U.S. Geological Survey to study its Atwood, Clendening, and Leesville reservoirs to assess the amount of excess water available for drillers.[25]

Fracking wastewater

West Virginia and Pennsylvania ship most of their wastewater for disposal in Ohio injection wells. In 2012, West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection took samples of the brine. The lab results indicated high levels of alpha particles, arsenic, barium, and toluene, among other contaminants, and are cause for the brine to be classified as “hazardous,” according to Ben Stout, professor of biology at Wheeling Jesuit University who interpreted the results. He described heavy metals found in the sample as “grossly above standard,” citing arsenic and barium levels that exceed the primary standard for acceptable drinking water concentrations by 370 and 145 times, respectively.[26]

Injection wells

In the first three quarters of 2011, Ohio had 177 active Class II wells that absorbed 368.3 million gallons of fracking wastewater, according to Ohio Natural Resources Department records. The total is up from 359.3 million for all of 2010, and more than in any year since 1987. Ohio approved 29 permits for wells in 2011, after averaging about four a year for the past two decades. [27]

For all of 2011, oil and gas companies injected 511 million gallons into Ohio’s wells, the most on record, according to the state’s Department of Natural Resources.[28]

More than half the fracking wastewater was shipped in from out of state. Of the almost 22 million gallons of wastewater that Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale operators sent to disposal wells in the first six months of 2011, nearly 99 percent went to Ohio, according to production reports from the Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Department. Pennsylvania has only six active Class II wells, in part because Pennsylvania allowed companies to discharge brine into streams or take it to treatment plants until 2010. [29]

Since 2010, Ohio charges a disposal a fee of five cents per barrel on Ohio brine, and twenty cents for waste originating out of state.[30] Ohio collected $1.45 million for these fees in 2011.[31] In January 2012, when asked how Ohio would avoid becoming a dumping ground for out of state waste, Governor Kasich told Bloomberg that the U.S. Constitution prohibits interference with interstate shipments.[32] In March 2012, the Governor’s proposed energy policy legislation, Senate Bill 315, that would raise brine disposal fees from five to ten cents on in-state waste, and from twenty cents to $1 on out of state waste.

EPA limits wastewater in Warren

On March 19, 2012, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued its final permit renewal to the city of Warren, Ohio, and also an additional permit to Patriot Water Treatment LLC, the state’s lone brine-wastewater treatment plant. The permit will not allow the city of Warren to accept any more brine wastewater from fracking as of April 1, 2012. The five-year permit also calls for total dissolved solids monitoring twice a week.

Patriot’s permit to install will allow the company to accept and treat “new wastewater sources.” The company can still accept fracking wastewater, from Utica and Marcellus shale exploration, but has to find a different method of disposal or reuse rather than sending the water to Warren, such as recycling or injection-well disposal.[33]

Recycling

Ohio, according to ORC 1509.226, allows the application of fracking wastewater on roads for dust and ice control as a legitimate form of disposal.[34]

Dumping

On January 31, 2013, the company Hard Rock Excavating was found dumping an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 gallons of fracking waste into a storm drain, which eventually emptied into the Mahoning River. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency later found documents showing that Ben W. Lupo, a partner in several companies headquartered at the site, and owner of both D&L Energy and Hard Rock, instructed an employee to dump the wastewater down the drain.[35]

On July 3, 2012, the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission ruled that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was wrong to expressly bar the city of Warren's sewage treatment plant from taking treated fracking wastes and dumping those wastes into the Mahoning River. Yet the Commission also ruled that the city must first obtain permission to dump the waste from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which oversees the disposal of oil and gas field wastes.[36]

Wastewater pits

Fracking wastewater impoundment store millions of gallons of chemical-laced fracking wastewater to recycle and frack new wells. The impoundments dot the Pennsylvania and West Virginia landscape. A provision in a 2013 Ohio state budget requires Natural Resources officials to create rules and permits for them, such as requiring plastic liners to prevent leakage into groundwater.[37]

Proposed projects

In February 2012, NiSource Gas Transmission and Storage's (NGT&S) Midstream Services announced plans for a pipeline for the Utica play in eastern Ohio. The project also includes a 200 million cubic feet per day cryogenic natural gas liquids processing plant that will be delivered in July 2012. The plant and related facilities will be located in Harrison County and will process gas flowing from both the north and south.

NGT&S will also construct a dry gas line originating from the tailgate of the processing plant that will also gather additional dry gas produced in the Utica trend. The system will ultimately deliver gas to multiple interconnects including Texas Eastern (Spectra), Rocky Mountain Express (Kinder Morgan) and Columbia Gas. The project is expected to provide an initial transportation and processing capacity of 200 million cubic feet per day.[38]

Natural gas facilities and offices

As reported by the New York Times in March 2013, "Chesapeake Energy Corporation, which is based in Oklahoma City and is the largest developer of the shale formation, known as the Utica Shale, is building a field office on a 291-acre site here that it bought here last year for $7.11 million. The project’s centerpiece is a five-story, 85,000-square-foot office tower that is scheduled to be completed early next year. The company is also building a 55,000-square-foot receiving and maintenance building and a 6,000-square-foot repair shop."[39]

Numerous drilling and energy companies have set up shop in Ohio in recent years. In 2013, a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueling station was built, which is owned and operated by Clean Energy Fuels Corp. and opened in Seville, Ohio to support the expanding fleet of LNG trucks deployed by major contract freight carrier Dillon Transport.[40]

Spills and accidents

  • Click here for an interactive list of fracking incidents in Ohio.

Methane hazards

A Cleveland, Ohio house exploded in late 2007 after methane gas seeped into its water well. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources later issued a 153-page report (PDF) that faulted a nearby gas well's faulty concrete casing and hydraulic fracturing pushing methane into an aquifer and causing the explosion: at least 1,000 gallons of fracturing fluid, including about 150 gallons of oil, leaked out of the well pipes and possibly out into the ground.[41]

One dead in natural gas explosion

An explosion at an oil and gas well on July 16, 2012 killed a 19-year-old man. The cause of the explosion was not immediately known.[42]

State revenues

According to Innovation Ohio, the state’s severance tax ranks near the bottom among oil and gas states that levy a severance tax, with a rate at $.03 per MCF (1000 cubic feet) for gas and $.20 per barrel for oil.[43]

According to Gasland filmmaker Josh Fox, the gas industry tells Ohio representatives how much gas has been extracted and pays taxes to the state based on that figure, without oversight or monitoring; the state, in fact, "lacks the authority to check meters at the wellhead and compare those readings against the figures turned in by producers."[44]

Jobs

A 2013 report published by Cleveland State University, "Ohio Utica Shale Region Monitor," found that overall spending in Ohio counties with the highest shale reserves increased by 21.1 percent in 2012, compared with a 6.4 percent increase in counties where no fracking was underway. Yet employment grew by 1.4 percent between 2011 and 2012 for the former, and 1.3 percent for the latter, suggesting the higher spending did not translate into more jobs.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (JFS) has stated that employment in fracking core-industry businesses such as pipeline construction and well drilling was up 15.5 percent in the second quarter of 2012, compared to the prior-year period.[45] In December 2013 JFS concluded that direct employment from oil and gas activity increased from 6,263 jobs in the first quarter of 2011 to 8,192 in the first three months of 2013.

Ohio's Mothers Against Drilling in Our Neighborhoods (MADION) has argued that the number of jobs created by fracking should be measured against the possible impacts and loss of jobs in other industries such as farming, dairies, and tourism.[46]

Lobbying and donations

The 2011 Common Cause report, "Deep drilling, deep pockets, in Washington and Ohio," found that "from 2001 through June 2011, the fracking industry gave $20.5 million to current members of Congress and spent $726 million on lobbying." For Ohio, Rep. John Boehner led Ohio’s Congressional delegation with $186,900, followed by Sen. Rob Portman with $91,000, Rep. Steve Chabot with $59,050, and Rep. Steve Stivers with $51,250.

The report also tracked $2.8 million in campaign contributions to Ohio’s state elected officials and notes that Ohio’s fracking regulations as of 2011 were among the weakest of any state. Gov. John Kasich was the leading individual recipient with $213,519, followed by former Gov. Ted Strickland with $87,450 and Secretary of State John Husted with $84,750.[47]

Truthout analysis of Gov. Kasich campaign records showed that wealthy executives of companies connected to the natural gas industry, including billionaires William I. Koch (founder of the fracking Oxbow Corporation) and David Koch (of Koch Industries), funneled an additional $127,268 in personal donations through a political action committee (PAC) to support Kasich's election in 2010. The money went to a PAC organized by the Republican Governors Association (RGA); the PAC used a majority of the money to pay for attack ads against former Ohio governor Strickland, whom Kasich defeated in 2010.[48]

According go Truthout: Building a Better Ohio and Gov. Kasich received support from Make Ohio Great, a front group for the Republican Governors Association (RGA), which spent $11 million supporting Kasich in the 2010 election. Make Ohio Great did not reveal the amount of money it gave to Building a Better Ohio or spent on ads defending SB 5 (an anti-collective-bargaining bill), but a look at its 2010 records revealed that the RGA middle-manned money from private health care companies and corporations like Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart, allowing out-of-state interests to silently support Kasich's campaign.[49]

Citizen activism

Ohio governor, fracking, and Koch contributions

On Feb. 7, 2012, Ohioans rallied against Gov. John Kasich’s "open door" policy of natural gas extraction and fracking wastewater injection wells, and called for a committee hearing on SB 213 and HB 345, which would halt oil/gas drilling operations and wastewater disposal injection wells in the state until the EPA finishes a study examining whether there is a link between fracking drill sites and contaminated drinking water.[50]

June 2012: People's assembly

Environmental activist Bill McKibben, 350.org, Gasland director Josh Fox, and Ohio environmental activists and groups are aiming to assemble what they hope in a public letter will be the largest demonstration against natural-gas fracking in U.S. history. The action will happen in Columbus, Ohio on June 14–17, culminating on the last day with a takeover of the statehouse for “a people’s assembly" to pass legislation to stop fracking in the state.

The actions is in response to Ohio Governor John Kasich's efforts to increase fracking in the state. The protest organizers also want to take advantage of Ohio’s swing-state status: “as the nation’s attention turns to Ohio for the election this fall, it is a fitting place to make a stand and say that this process must stop once and for all."[51]

June 2012: Moratorium on water sales

Less than a week after dozens of environmental activists rallied outside its annual meeting, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District reversed course in June 2012 and decided to temporarily halt the sale of water to oil and gas drillers.[52]

July 2012: Residents blockade Ohio injection well

It was reported on July 16, 2012 that Ohio residents blocked access to an injection well in Trumbull County, protesting "the failure of Ohio regulators to adequately test and monitor dumping of toxic fracking waste." One activist locked himself to the gate to prevent trucks from entering the site. Two activists were detained, and the supporter locked to the gate was eventually and safely removed by authorities and placed under arrest.[53]

November 2012: Mansfield bill of rights

In the November 2012 election Mansfield voters approved a community bill of rights prohibiting hydraulic fracturing injection wells in the city, located in the Utica Shale basin between Cleveland and Columbus. Industry front groups including Energy in Depth (EID) and Energy Citizens (a front group of the American Petroleum Institute) led the charge in the astroturf campaign to try and defeat the bill.[54]

March 2013: Groups call for EPA to step in over fracking wastewater

In March 2013, three activist groups asked the EPA to supersede Ohio's authority in regulating fracking waste disposal. The Ohio office of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice; ProgressOhio; and the Buckeye Forest Council jointly issued a request for EPA action on March 2013, arguing in a letter that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has not done enough in its oversight of fracking waste. It was reported that an "EPA spokesman said the agency is reviewing the letter, which calls for the federal body to audit and investigate the Ohio DNR. Under a national program, Ohio has the right to monitor its own wells, but a string of recent incidents led the coalition of environmental and community groups to question the state's effectiveness."[55]

July 2013: Hundreds protest fracking waste

According to EcoWatch in July 2013, a "coalition of local, statewide and national groups concerned about toxic waste from hydraulic fracturing ... converged on Portage and Trumbull counties ... for Don’t Frack Ohio 2.0. The coalition called for an end to the state being used as a regional dumping ground for oil and gas waste. The rally drew 250 participants in an area heavily targeted by the oil and gas industry for disposal of toxic radioactive drilling waste from fracking."[56]

November 2014: Lawsuit Challenges Radioactive Fracking Waste Facilities in Ohio

On November 19, 2014, two environmental groups filed a lawsuit on behalf of residents in Youngstown, Ohio, which challenged the temporary approval of 23 fracking waste facilities. The suit claimed, "that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), which regulates the oil and gas industry, broke the law when it issued temporary orders allowing the waste facilities to begin operating without first taking comments from the public and completing a formal rule-making process to regulate the facilities. Ohio Gov. John Kasich is also named in the lawsuit."[57]

Legislation and regulations

In 2004, the Ohio General Assembly gave the state Department of Natural Resources, "sole and exclusive authority to regulate the permitting, location and spacing of oil and gas wells."[58]

In October 2013 the Ohio Supreme Court said it will hear an appeal from the city of Munroe Falls in Summit County to determine if local governments in the state have authority to regulate fracking.[58]

Ongoing

State drilling inspections
  • Modernize Injection Well Laws - Introduced March 2012, sponsored by Rep. Jay P. Goyal. - Would require water testing and community approval before an injection well is approved, and would require recycling of fracking wastewater, reducing the overall demand for disposal wells.
  • SB 213 and HB 345 — would halt drilling operations for oil and gas extraction, as well as wastewater disposal injection wells, until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finishes a study examining whether there is a link between fracking drill sites and contaminated drinking water.[59]
  • HB 133, introduced by Rep. John Adams in 2010, would allow leasing state land, such as parks and universities, for natural gas and oil drilling.[60]
  • The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act (H.R. 2766), (S. 1215)--was introduced to both houses of the the United States Congress on June 9, 2009, and aims to repeal the exemption for hydraulic fracturing in the Safe Drinking Water Act.[61]

Enacted

  • SB 315 - Introduced March 22, 2012. Sponsored by Senator Shannon Jones. Proposes changes by Governor Kasich’s administration to Ohio’s fracking laws. Requires drillers to conduct baseline testing of local water supplies within 1,500 feet of planned fracking sites. Requires disclosure of chemicals used in servicing a well, but not drilling it, and has exemption for proprietary chemicals. Would impose a new, up front $25,000 per well impact fee on drillers for local governments, but the full $25,000 fee could be recouped by drillers as a discount on property tax payments.[62] On May 15, 2012, the Ohio Senate passed SB 315 by a vote of 27-6. The bill had been amended by the Ohio Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee. Among the changes introduced was the medical gag rule, which reads: "A medical professional who receives information pursuant to [trade secret chemicals] shall keep the information confidential and shall not disclose the information for any purpose that is not related to the diagnosis or treatment."[63] The bill would also allow institutions to build heating and power plants fired by natural gas and get credit for them as renewable energy -- credits that currently go to help finance wind farms.[64] At least 33 of the 45 Ohio legislators who co-sponsored SB 315 are ALEC members, and language from portions of the state Senate bill is similar to ALEC's "Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition Act."[65] The bill was signed into law by Gov. Kasich on June 12, 2012.[66]
  • SB 165: Ohio Gas Rule Revisions - Became operational on July 1, 2010. The act sets out plans to increase setbacks for wells in urban areas, requires some disclosure of fracking fluids, updates permitting fees, and includes noise pollution and land use protections. Sec. 1509.04(A), which states that the enforcement authority of the chief of the division of mineral resources management "includes the authority to issue compliance notices and to enter into compliance agreements", has been criticized by communities who say it allows companies to sidestep violations and thus penalties.
  • House Bill 278 - enacted in 2004, the law gave the Ohio Department of Natural Resources sole authority to regulate oil and gas wells, stripping local governments of any authority over placement or permitting of wells.

Controversy

House Bill 487, introduced by House Finance Chairman Ron Amstutz on Ohio Gov. Kasich's behalf, included language that the group Plunderbund later claimed was provided by the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA). Specifically, the bill's section on impact fees is almost verbatim with OOGA's proposed language for inclusion in Kasich's legislation: "the only change we can identify is the fee was set at $25,000, not $20,000 as proposed by OOGA," according to Plunderbund. Representatives of the oil/gas industry (including Christina Polesovsky of the Ohio Petroleum Council and wife of Governor's office staffer, Jeff Polesovsky) met with the Governor's office staff twice during the week of February 12, 2012, and followed up less than a week later via OOGA's lobbyist, Fred Mills, with a copy of the proposed language.[67]

At least 33 of the 45 Ohio legislators who co-sponsored SB 315 are ALEC members, and language from portions of the state Senate bill is similar to ALEC's "Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition Act." ALEC's website says Ohio Gov. John Kasich participated in the group during its formative years. Kasich has not only signed a number of ALEC-influenced bills into law, he also introduced major initiatives in his 2011 State of the State address that were similar or identical to ALEC proposals taking root in other states.[68]

Various economic analyses have found that SB 315's minor tax on individual wells is offset by new tax breaks on property taxes and other tax breaks, resulting in the gas industry paying less in Ohio taxes than any other state in the country, and SB 315 contains no public notice, no public comment, and no right to appeal for drill sites, pipelines, or compressor stations.[69]

For fracking chemical disclosure, Ohio state law passed in 2001 requires that drilling companies share information about hazardous chemicals only with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and not with emergency-management officials and first responders. In May 2013, EPA officials sent a letter to state emergency officials stating that the federal Right-to-Know Act of 1986, requiring companies to share a hazardous-chemical inventory with local officials, supersedes the Ohio disclosure law.[70] It was reported that the laws adopted in 2001 favor­ing the oil and gas indus­try vio­late "fed­eral laws designed to pro­tect com­mu­ni­ties fac­ing chem­i­cal emergencies."[71]

Lawsuits

Water Contamination

In March 2012, two Medina County couples filed two lawsuits against Delaware-based Landmark 4 LLC in connection with drilling in 2008 at nearby Allardale Park, Ohio. The suits say the drilling discharges caused the two families to incur “health injuries, loss of use and enjoyment of their property, loss of quality of life, emotional distress and other damages.” The suits allege Landmark 4 failed to provide sufficient cement for below-ground casings at two wells, and seek damages in excess of $75,000 each, along with court-supervised medical testing due to alleged toxic exposures.[72]

Brine water as a de-icer

In March 2012, Duck Creek Energy Inc. of Brecksville filed a defamation lawsuit against fracking activists Tish O'Dell and Michelle Aini, asking the court to prohibit them from describing the company's AquaSalina (used to defrost roads with salty brine water) as "a product of fracking" or environmentally unsafe. Duck Creek seeks $1 million in punitive damages in its complaint in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.[73]

The defendants, members of the group "Mothers Against Drilling in Our Neighborhoods" that is trying to block drilling in Cuyahoga County suburbs, filed a counterclaim for $1 million.[73]

Duck Creek is a gas and oil production company concentrated in Cuyahoga, Mahoning, Trumbull and Portage counties. It taps the Clinton sandstone layer, some 3,500 to 5,500 feet below ground. Duck Creek says it uses fracking in its wells, with about half of the frack water coming back up the well almost immediately, with the rest emitted over a period of one to three months.[73]

Company President David Mansbery said frack water isn't used in its AquaSalina deicer (defroster). Instead, the company uses the salty water that follows during the extraction of gas, which it says is "natural" and comes from the remains of an ancient sea in the sandstone layer. Duck Creek purifies it at its filtering plant at Mittal Steel. Duck Creek attorney Robert Zimmerman said the company asked O'Dell and Aini to stop making the "false statement" that that the company uses "toxic fracking" water in its road deicer, and sued them when they would not.[73]

O'Dell and Aini state in their counterclaim that AquaSalina contains benzene, a carcinogen, and other toxic and hazardous substances. Attachments to the counterclaim include:[73]

  • A November 2011 analysis of a brine sample that Duck Creek had tested by independent environmental lab Precision Analytical. The lab found traces of benzene, ethyl benzene and toluene, which probably came from residual crude oil droplets, Precision Analytics President Cary Mathias said.
  • A copy of meeting minutes from Broadview Heights in which Service Director Raymond Mack said the city "would no longer purchase AquaSalina for use on road salt" given that "benzene is a cancer-causing chemical."

Constitutionality of state law reaches Ohio Supreme Court

In September 2013 it was reported that litigation over the constitutionality of "Ohio's law R.C.1509.02 granting sole authority to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to regulate activities associated with oil and gas exploration and production has reached the Ohio Supreme Court." A host of Ohio cities challenged the law. As reported, "First assert that 'community of character is of immense importance to the health, identity, and economic viability of Ohio's communities.' Building on this notion, the Amici contend that 'hydrofracking is a heavy industrial process with the potential to [adversely impact] community character and development goals of Ohio's local communities.' Here, the Amici reference, among other things, damage to surface waters, emission of airborne toxics and other air pollutants, and operational noise in support of their position that hydrofracking poses harmful risks to community character."[74]

Companies

  • American Energy Ohio Holdings LLC - the fundraising arm of oil and gas venture American Energy Partners LP, created by former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon. Former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond is director.[75]
  • Chesapeake Energy - has eight drilling rigs in Ohio and expects to have 20 rigs by late 2012 and 30 by 2014, with 800,000 acres of leases in the Utica shale. It plans to install 200 miles of pipeline for the expansion. The company said its pre-drilling surveys had detected potentially troublesome levels of methane gas in drinking water in Plain and Osnaburg townships in Stark County. Evidence of the problem was also detected in Pike and Sandy townships.[76][77]
  • Chevron - has several thousand acres leased in Marshall and Ohio counties.[78]
  • D&L Energy
  • ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy - XTO plans to drill its first Ohio Utica Shale well just south of the former Key Ridge Elementary School in Belmont County, state records show. Public records also confirm oil giant Exxon has at least 52,334 acres leased for drilling in Belmont and Monroe counties.[79]

Citizen groups

Statewide

Fracking opponent Abram Loeb

Local, County, Regional

Industry groups

Reports

Reclamation

The 2013 Environment Ohio Research & Policy Center report "Who Pays the Cost of Fracking?" analyzes Ohio’s financial assurance requirements for insurance and reclamation of state oil and gas drilling operations. The report argues that Ohio’s "bonding requirements" do not cover the full costs, as 1.) drilling operators are only required to secure $5,000 in bonds per well up front, compared to leading states that require $250,000, and 2.) Ohio’s requirement for liability insurance is a blanket statewide amount, so drillers have the same $5 million cap whether they operate one well or hundreds of wells.

Jobs

In the 2013 report "Ohio Utica Shale Region Monitor," researchers at Cleveland State University analyzed total employment for 2011 and 2012 in 13 eastern Ohio counties where shale gas and oil production was under way, and compared the data to the rest of the state. The researchers found that employment growth due to shale development was not evident: employment rose 1.4 percent year-over-year in counties with heavy or moderate shale production, compared to 1.3 percent in other counties without shale development.[80]

2012 recommended state fracking policies

The 2012 report "Fracking, Fairness and the Future: Making Sure Ohio Taxpayers and Workers Share in Benefits" by the group Innovation Ohio argues that "Ohio’s current severance tax ranks near the bottom among oil and gas states that levy a severance tax," with a rate at $.03 per MCF (1000 cubic feet) for gas and $.20 per barrel for oil. The report recommends raising Ohio's oil and gas severance tax to 7.5 percent on natural gas and 4.6 percent on oil and natural gas liquids, "which would raise nearly $2.5 billion from the extraction of natural gas over 10 years and could result in additional tax collections of $5.9 to $25.3 billion on estimated oil shale reserves."[81]

Costs of fracking

The 2012 Environment Ohio Research & Policy Center "The costs of fracking" estimates the full costs of fracking the state, including water contamination, health and environmental impacts, and the effects on the state economy and infrastructure.

Resources

References

  1. "Fracking, Fairness and the Future: Making Sure Ohio Taxpayers and Workers Share in Benefits" Innovation Ohio, 2012 Report.
  2. "Fracking, Fairness and the Future: Making Sure Ohio Taxpayers and Workers Share in Benefits" Innovation Ohio, 2012 Report.
  3. "ODNR Releases Preliminary Report on Youngstown Area Seismic Activity," ODNR, March 9, 2012.
  4. Mike Ludwig, "Kasich, Koch and Big-Industry Bucks: Why Ohio Is the Next Fracking Frontier," truthout, Nov. 29, 2011.
  5. "Poll: 40 Percent of Voters Unfamiliar with Fracking" WKBN, January 19, 2012.
  6. "Ohio Fracking Review: March 2012," Innovation Ohio, April 4, 2012.
  7. "New fracking data shows Ohio could lose $160 million in one year by inaction," Innovation Ohio, April 3, 2012.
  8. "Oil and Natural Gas Well and Shale Development Resources" Ohio.gov, accessed December 24, 2012.
  9. Dana Jay, "Governor Kasich talks Fracking and Taxes," ABC, April 6, 2012.
  10. Brian Powell, "The Cleveland Plain Dealer Misses The Mark On Kasich's Fracking Tax Proposal," Media Matters, March 7, 2012.
  11. "Confirmed: Fracking caused Ohio earthquakes" RT, January 3, 2012.
  12. Eric Niiler, "Geologists say Ohio quakes directly tied to fracking" MSNBC, Jan. 6, 2012.
  13. Bob Downing, "Northeast Ohio rocked by 11th earthquake linked to Youngstown injection wells," Akron Beacon Journal Online, January 1, 2012
  14. "ODNR Releases Preliminary Report on Youngstown Area Seismic Activity," ODNR, March 9, 2012.
  15. Won-Young Kim, "Induced seismicity associated with fluid injection into a deep well in Youngstown, Ohio," Journal of Geophysical Research, Volume 118, Issue 7, pages 3506–3518, July 2013.
  16. "Ohio geologists link local earthquakes directly to fracking," al jazeera, April 12, 2014.
  17. "Can the shale gas boom save Ohio?" Washington Post, March 3, 2012.
  18. "Oil and Natural Gas Well and Shale Development Resources," Ohio Department of Natural Resources, accessed February 2012.
  19. "Interactive Map of Eastern Ohio Well Permits" EcoWatch, Jan. 13, 2012.
  20. "Ohio Fracking Review: March 2012," Innovation Ohio, April 4, 2012.
  21. "Ohio Fracking: State Agency Proposes Rules For Drilling In State Parks," HuffPo, April 12, 2012.
  22. Deirdre Shesgreen, "Energy issues electrify Ohio Senate race," Cincinnati.com, July 8, 2012.
  23. "Kasich signs order against Lake Erie drilling," Toledo Blade, July 11 2012.
  24. Kate Sheppard, "John Kasich's Advisers Knew Of Plan To Target 'Eco-Left' As State Promoted Fracking Effort," Huffington Post, Feb. 18, 2014.
  25. Spencer Hunt, [http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/06/17/state-may-sell-water-for-fracking.html "State may sell water for ‘fracking,’" The Columbus Dispatch, June 17, 2012.
  26. "First-Ever Fracking Wastewater Test in Ohio Reveals Stew of Hazardous Toxins," EcoWatch, July 2, 2012.
  27. Eric Niiler, "Geologists say Ohio quakes directly tied to fracking" MSNBC, Jan. 6, 2012.
  28. "Fracking Fluid Soaks Ohio," Bloomberg, March 22, 2012.
  29. Mark Niquette, "Ohio Tries to Escape Fate as a Dumping Ground for Fracking Fluid" SF Gate, February 2, 2012.
  30. "Underground Injection Control (UIC)," ODNR, accessed April 2012.
  31. "Fracking Fluid Soaks Ohio," Bloomberg, March 22, 2012.
  32. Mark Niquette, "Ohio Tries to Escape Fate as a Dumping Ground for Fracking Fluid," Bloomberg, Jan 31, 2012.
  33. "No more brine wastewater for Warren as of April 1, EPA says," Vindy.com, March 19, 2012.
  34. Bernhard Debatin, "Study on fracking health risks reinforces call for moratorium," The Athens News, January 16, 2012.
  35. Jamison Cocklin and David Skolnick, "Public outcry continues over Hard Rock's dumping in Youngstown," Vindy.com, February 7, 2013.
  36. Spencer Hunt, "Ohio EPA: "Fracking" wastes, streams still cannot mix," The Columbus Dispatch, July 05, 2012.
  37. Spencer Hunt, "Big lagoons could hold Ohio fracking waste," The Columbus Dispatch, Oct 11, 2013.
  38. "NiSource Gas Transmission and Storage's Midstream Services Announces Major Investment in The Midstream Solution for Ohio Utica Shale," PR Newswire, Feb. 29, 2012.
  39. "Ohio’s Resurgent Natural Gas Industry Spends Millions to Set Up Shop" Keith Schneider, New York Times, March 12, 2013.
  40. "Dillon Transport" company site, accessed, March 13, 2013.
  41. Abrahm Lustgarten, "Officials in Three States Pin Water Woes on Gas Drilling" ProPublica, April 26, 2009.
  42. "One dead in Bolivar natural gas explosion" Bob Jones, Newsnet 5, July , 2012.
  43. "Fracking, Fairness and the Future: Making Sure Ohio Taxpayers and Workers Share in Benefits" Innovation Ohio, 2012 Report.
  44. Josh Fox, "We Won’t Be Silenced" EcoWatch, February 7, 2012.
  45. Jeff Bell, "Shale drilling jobs up through 1st half of 2012, state report says," Columbus Business First, March 4, 2013.
  46. John Upton, "Ohio fracking boom has not brought jobs," Grist, March 22, 2013.
  47. James Browning & Alex Kaplan, "Deep drilling, deep pockets, in Washington and Ohio," Common Cause, 2011.
  48. Mike Ludwig, "Kasich, Koch and Big-Industry Bucks: Why Ohio Is the Next Fracking Frontier," truthout, Nov. 29, 2011.
  49. Mike Ludwig, Ohio Labor Movement Defeats Anti-Union Bill and Its Wealthy Supporters, Truth Out, November 9, 2011
  50. "EVENT: Fracking Protest at Ohio Gov. Kasich’s State of the State on Feb. 7" EcoWatch, Feb. 6, 2012.
  51. "Ohio fracking is latest target for anti-Keystone activists," Grist, April 10, 2012.
  52. Russ Zimmer, "Conservancy district stops fracking water sales," Central Ohio.com, Jun. 8, 2012.
  53. "Mid-West Fracking Actions Escalate As Residents Blockade Ohio Injection Well" Scott Parkin, It's Getting Hot in Here, July 16, 2012.
  54. Steve Horn, "Chesapeake Energy Tied to Mansfield, OH Bill of Rights Astroturf Attack," DeSmog Blog, Nov. 6, 2012.
  55. "OHIO: Groups call for EPA to step in over fracking wastewater" E&E, March 20, 2013.
  56. "Hundreds Protest Radioactive Fracking Waste in Ohio " EcoWatch, July 30, 2013.
  57. "Lawsuit Challenges Radioactive Fracking Waste Facilities in Ohio" Mike Ludwig, Truthout, December 1, 2014.
  58. 58.0 58.1 Casey Junkins, "Ohio Supreme Court to check in on drilling," Ogden Newspaper, October 13, 2013.
  59. "EVENT: Fracking Protest at Ohio Gov. Kasich’s State of the State on Feb. 7" EcoWatch, Feb. 6, 2012.
  60. "The 'Fracking' Of Ohio State Parks" Progress Ohio, March 16, 2011.
  61. "The 'Fracking' Of Ohio State Parks" Progress Ohio, March 16, 2011.
  62. "Kasich adopts one of IO’s recommendation on fracking law, falls short on others," Innovation Ohio, March 23, 2012.
  63. "Ohio Senate passes Kasich fracking bill with medical gag rule added," Ohio Citizen Action, May 15, 2012.
  64. John Funk, "Ohio Senate wants fracking chemicals identified but neglects wind farms," The Plain Dealer, May 15, 2012.
  65. "ALEC slips Exxon fracking loopholes into new Ohio law," Greenpeace, May 31, 2012.
  66. Marc Kovac, "Ohio Gov. John Kasich calls �energy legislation tough but fair," Ravenna Record Courier, June 12, 2012.
  67. "[Exclusive Kasich allows oil & gas industry to write portions of fracking legislation,"] Plunderbund, May 23, 2012.
  68. "ALEC slips Exxon fracking loopholes into new Ohio law," Greenpeace, May 31, 2012.
  69. "ALEC slips Exxon fracking loopholes into new Ohio law," Greenpeace, May 31, 2012.
  70. Spencer Hunt,"Companies that use Ohio law to shield details of fracking chemicals may violate federal statute," The Columbus Dispatch, June 26, 2013.
  71. "U.S. EPA Confirms that Ohio statute favoring the fracking industry violates federal safety laws" The Morrow County Sentinel, July 15, 2013.
  72. Bob Downing, " Medina County couples file federal lawsuits over problems with wells," Beacon Journal, March 14, 2012.
  73. 73.0 73.1 73.2 73.3 73.4 Alison Grant, "Deicer not fracking water, Duck Creek says in defamation lawsuit," The Plains Dealer, March 29, 2012.
  74. "Local Ohio Communities Allied In Defense Of Ohio’s Home-Rule, Oil And Gas Showdown To Be Held In Ohio Supreme Court" MonDaq, September 24, 2013.
  75. "2 of energy's heaviest hitters partner up in Ohio's Utica," E&E, October 18, 2013.
  76. Bob Downing, "Chesapeake unveils system to recycle waste water from ‘fracking’ drill sites" Ohio.com, February 9, 2012.
  77. "Can the shale gas boom save Ohio?" Washington Post, March 3, 2012.
  78. Casey Junkins, "Exxon Is Drilling First Ohio Utica Shale Well: Oil companies continue to acquire local land," The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register, February 7, 2012.
  79. Casey Junkins, "Exxon Is Drilling First Ohio Utica Shale Well: Oil companies continue to acquire local land," The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register, February 7, 2012.
  80. John Funk, "Ohio shale gas development produced a spending surge in 2012 but not many new jobs, Cleveland State University study shows," The Plain Dealer, March 19, 2013.
  81. "Fracking, Fairness and the Future: Making Sure Ohio Taxpayers and Workers Share in Benefits" Innovation Ohio, 2012 Report.

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