Fracking is the high-pressure injection of toxic chemicals underground, straight down and then horizontally, to get oil and gas out of shale rock. It can contaminate our communities during the complicated process.
- Video of Jamie Frederick, Coitsville, Ohio, east of Youngstown, describing her experience
When Chesapeake Energy and other Oklahoma and Texas-based drilling companies began to arrive in Ohio, many thought that they would be able to do whatever they wanted for as long as they wanted.
Today, this is no longer a certainty for several reasons. First, the price of natural gas dropped from $10 per thousand cubic feet in 2008 to under $3 today, undermining the economic premise for the drilling. Second, the dominant company, Chesapeake Energy, has found itself in a web of ethical, management and financial scandals. Third, public opposition to fracking, especially in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, has been remarkably intense and persistent.
On August 17, Maria van der Hoeven, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency told a Houston audience, “There’s a very real possibility that public opposition to drilling for shale gas will halt the unconventional gas revolution and fracking in its tracks.”
Earlier this summer, Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director of Ohio Citizen Action, asked Ohio Attorney General to begin an investigation of Chesapeake Energy’s operations in Ohio. Ohio Citizen Action members also wrote to DeWine, and sent letters-to-the-editor of local newspapers around the state. DeWine announced his investigation shortly thereafter, making news nationwide.
- Letter from Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, June 4, 2012.
- “Ohio Attorney General probing Chesapeake Energy’s conduct; Fraud is alleged, possibly resulting in losses to Ohio pension funds”, Dan Gearino, Columbus Dispatch, June 19, 2012.
The medical right to know and the gag order
Doctors, nurses, and emergency medical technicians need to know what chemicals are used in oil and gas drilling, and they need to know it in a hurry. If a well explodes and fracking fluids erupt onto workers, firefighters and EMTs need to know how to deal with the chemicals before they arrive.
A new state law makes it almost impossible to get this information. If that weren’t bad enough, if a doctor does find out what chemicals are in the fracking fluid, they are subject to a gag order. They can’t warn other people in the same family, let alone the community. They can’t tell researchers. And they can’t warn local or state regulators or legislators.
Throughout the summer, Ohio Citizen Action members and friends who are doctors, nurses, and emergency medical technicianshave been signing a petitionurging Ohio legislators to fix the problems in the new law.
The fall election
This fall, Ohio legislators, most of whom voted for the new state fracking law including the doctor gag order, will be asking voters to return them to office for another term.
Ohio Citizen Action is strictly nonpartisan, and we do not endorse candidates. Instead, Ohio Citizen Action members will be spreading the word about who voted how on that bill, and about the challengers’ views on fracking. Voters can make up their own minds.
And when presidential or vice presidential or their high-profile spokespeople come to Ohio, we’ll be distributing leaflets to the crowds about what the next president could and should be doing about hydraulic fracturing.
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- Interested in volunteering? Email Nathan Rutz, Cleveland Campaign Organizer or call 216-861-5200.