Energy / Hydraulic Fracturing

‘Fracking’ payoffs luring local officials

COLUMBUS — “The lure of big money created by Ohio’s growing shale energy boom has enticed thousands of landowners to sign leases with oil and gas companies. With offers surpassing $5,000 an acre, many government and school officials are considering doing the same.

…The mineral-rights leases typically pay landowners upfront bonuses as well as a percentage of the value of any oil and gas that come out of the ground. Yet environmental advocates argue that the drilling process threatens property owners’ water, soil and air.

…Back in Jefferson County, Steubenville council members have approved a deal with Hess Oil that opens a 110-acre site west of town for drilling. At $5,400 an acre, the city will receive more than $590,000 in a one-time bonus, said city manager Cathy Davison. The city will receive a 19 percent royalty on the value of gas or oil that comes up at the site.

Davison called the agreement an opportunity to start cleaning up an old city landfill on the property. She said an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency order to eliminate groundwater pollution and cap the old dump, which closed in 1983, would cost about $10 million.

‘Steubenville has had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Our residents can’t afford $10 million,’ Davison said. ‘This is a down payment toward starting this project.'”

— Spencer Hunt, Columbus Dispatch

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