Fracking protest aims to protect water – Really?.

The chanting was audible from a block away.

“Save our water! Save our water! Save our water!”

At least 30 protesters had gathered Saturday outside the Tuscarawas County Courthouse to voice displeasure with the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District’s dealings with oil and gas drillers — “frackers,” as the protesters called them.

Inside at their annual meeting, conservancy district leaders were recapping the state of the district, a public entity that owns and maintains 14 dams, their resulting reservoirs and the parks and campgrounds that surround them. The audience included members of the Conservancy Court, comprised of 18 common pleas court judges — one from each of the counties wholly within the district’s boundaries.

Protesters said they hoped to highlight “the hypocrisy of the conservancy district not actually being about conservancy,” said Josh Harris, a Mount Vernon resident and a member of an anti-fracking group, Stewards of the Land.

At issue

Their beef comes from two district actions:

» The leasing of mineral rights on or under district land to oil and gas drillers who plan to use the controversial horizontal hydraulic fracturing technique — known commonly as fracking — to unlock fossil fuels from beneath a geological formation known as the Utica Shale.

» The sale of millions of gallons of water from the district’s man-made lakes to drillers for use in fracking.

Inside the courthouse, district administrators summarized their defense.

Conservation director Sean Logan, a frequent target of the protesters’ ire, argued the district’s multi-billion gallon reservoirs provided a water source more appropriate for large withdrawals than rivers or streams.

Jim Pringle, the district’s attorney, said the agency has a statutory duty and precedents in policy that direct officials to at least consider proposals for the beneficial use of reservoir water, which includes industrial purposes.

Many of those gathered in opposition weren’t persuaded by these arguments.

Allen Schwartz, with a guitar slung across his shoulders, said what it boiled down to was the permanent loss of water from the watershed. All water used in drilling is considered brine by the state, and all but a tiny percentage must be disposed of in deep underground injection wells.

“If you take the water from the Licking River, you’re taking it from St. Louisville, from Newark, from Utica — that’s reality,” the Newark man said, referring to the pumping of water for fracking from the Licking River, which is not controlled by the conservancy district.

As for fracking on district lands, Executive Director John Hoopingarner said officials have built protections into the leases that put in place hard-line rules agreed to by out-of-state megafirms such as Chesapeake Energy or Gulfport Energy.

“The standard oil and gas lease is two pages long,” he told the judges. “We’ve developed a 13-page addendum.”

Greed alleged

Several people who addressed the court in opposition to the fracking-related activities accused district leaders of greed.

The district’s annual report, which was approved at the meeting, shows how the influx of cash from just one agreement has changed the landscape.

The Gulfport deal, the only one of the three Utica Shale leases signed that was consummated in 2011, was worth more than $15 million and pushed revenue from overall mineral rights and royalties to $15.9 million last year, up from the standard $273,321 recorded in 2010.

Two deals signed this year will provide upfront payments of more than $22 million.

The Gulfport money was turned into a healthy carryover, and it erased $5.4 million in debt and provided $5.5 million allocated to renovating district facilities, including upgrades to campgrounds.

In all, Hoopingarner said, a preliminary review of the district’s facilities and infrastructure has found $80 million in work needed. He said the district expects to use oil and gas money to make those repairs and improvements.

Representatives from several high-profile environmental advocates, including the Sierra Club of Ohio, the Buckeye Forest Council and the Ohio Environmental Council, urged the Conservancy Court to resist the moves.

However, the court only has supervisory authority, such as approving a per-gallon cost, over long-term water deals, said Edward O’Farrell, of Tuscarawas County.

“We don’t have any authority to involve ourselves as a division court in the short-term sales,” the presiding judge said.

Logan told the judges he expects Cadiz, which has an intake facility at Tappan Lake that serves as the village’s primary water source, will ask for the volume of water in its contract to be expanded so it can sell the water to drillers for fracking.
Twitter: @RussZimmer

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20 Responses to Fracking protest aims to protect water – Really?.

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  11. buckeyesyd says:

    Heidi Hoffer · Sales Associate at Old Navy
    Who wants to camp, swim or boat in a toxic wasteland?

    • buckeyesyd says:

      Phil Sydnor · Top Commenter · Public Scrutiny
      You already are!, that’s how stupid people are…Fluoride is already a problem that nobody seems to care about. Maybe folks should have complained sooner, now folks are getting on a bandwagon to eliminate MORE job opportunities – Enjoy SOCIALISM, it’s here to stay!

  12. buckeyesyd says:

    Susan L. Stevens · Top commenter · Cosmic
    Take our water from the reservoirs and FRACK with it. Now it is ruined so we need to INJECT it into the earth and hid it for all time. JUST GREAT! Just what GOD wanted.

    Eli McClellan · Top commenter · 30 years old
    Oooooh, the fear of god… Keep spreading the “word”.. God don’t want us tracking like he wants babies to keep being aborted.. I mean surely he would have put lightning bolts THROUGH the abortionists by now if it weren’t “part of his plan”

  13. buckeyesyd says:

    Phil Sydnor · Top commenter · Public Scrutiny
    I’ve got NEWS Elaine, I am a 1 % er and you are far from a REALIST. The water you drink now is already contaminated or we would’t be bleaching it or adding other foul ingredients like fluoride. You people spread fear and REMOVE those who have intelligent questions. You ban those who join your Occupy Mansfield group and then say you speak for us!, what a joke this group is. Give people the FACTS, not your beliefs and religious mumbo jumbo.

    • buckeyesyd says:

      Darlene Baldridge · Top Commenter
      Phil, If you work at ABC warehouse and not own it, you are not a 1%er, you are one of the 99%. Yes you are right, the water we drink is already contaminated, so is the food we eat (GMO’s) and the air we breath, and the Earth we stand on, the question is: Do we want to continue with “business as usual” until we have completely destroyed our planet, or start today and do something differently? You need to get over being blocked from the Occupy Mansfield group (by an administrator who was not Elaine) and realize you have more in common with the rest of us than you have differences. I was blocked from you know you’re from Mansfield, OH if…. by Dana Haag, she happens to be friends with at least 4 of my own friends, but that didn’t win me any kind of “reinstatement”… just get over it and move on!

      • buckeyesyd says:

        Phil Sydnor · Top Commenter · Public Scrutiny
        My bad, you’re right! – I am not a 1%er – lol…
        As far as getting over a group who says they speak for the 99ers, but won’t let us speak? – NOW that’s a joke, right?. As you know, I am against CENSORSHIP, and especially those who say they speak for those of us they think can’t speak for themselves. What they can honestly say is…they speak for those who sit on their hands who don’t mind the status quo. What people need to do is WORK!, and fracking is just that. Now, if you’re saying this is as mad as you say…Get me someone who’s been effected by this more than anything else life has thrown at us and maybe I will join in?. The problem I see with those who oppose fracking is…They are oppressive law breaking thugs who are NOT the right people to represent. John Spon is a liar, Bill Baker – if he’s the one who lives on Barr Rd is on house arrest for molesting children, and as far as the rest! – we’ll NEVER know who they are since they blocked many of us before we could find out who they are or what they represent. Once again, thanks for your input Darlene, but you being one who’s been misrepresented and railroaded by the system, I find it hard to believe you would be willing to join them in railroading others into a life of socialism and dependance on government if this does not happen?.

        • buckeyesyd says:

          Elaine Baer · Top commenter · Works at Self employed web developer
          Phil- Since I can’t see your post on MNJ, I will comment here. I don’t remove anything, I believe in free speech and just ignore stuff that I don’t agree with, but I’ve seen that you remove posts from your OWN page, so go on ahead and be a hypocrite and falsely accuse others of doing what YOU do. I’m not spreading fear at all. I’m saying let the people decide for themselves whether they want to take on the risks from this industry, or else make the industry bear ALL the risks and the financial responsibility of making it safe. If the State of Ohio knows that water contamination cannot possibly happen from fracking then either let them give a 100% guarantee of that (they HAVEN’T and they WON’T) or let them return the right of local control to municipalities instead of usurping that permitting to themselves. If you think those inj…ection wells are okay for Mansfield, then you truly are one of the 1%. Maybe not in dollar wealth, but surely in spirit. And the 1% does not have the right to poison the water of the 99%. And sometimes Darlene has rubbed a couple of the folks at OM the wrong way when she’s expressed things out of frustration, but I think most of her posts are the most positive, inspirational things I’ve ever read in this community. She sees a problem and she looks beyond that problem for a vision of what will make it better. As far as I ever see with your personal attacks on others, you Phil, don’t have that vision. Or if you do, tell those who agree with you how to get there, and maybe you will get some followers who will actually accomplish your vision.

          • buckeyesyd says:

            Phil Sydnor · Top Commenter · Public Scrutiny
            Correction Elaine!, NOBODY has EVER had a comment removed from any of my sources. Surely you can prove your allegations like I have. You may not have removed comments on the Occupy group personally, but you do know…Birds of a feather flock together!. IF you belong to a group, you surely believe in what they’re about. CENSORSHIP is their bag, refuting it is mine! – That’s why I don’t remove comments, because I can PROVE my points unlike YOU!. If you have something that’s been removed, please share it!

  14. buckeyesyd says:

    Elaine Baer · Top commenter · Works at Self employed web developer
    We all share the same water, no matter who legally owns the land above it and below it. The whole EARTH shares the same water, because of the hydrological cycle. Nobody should be allowed to pollute any drop of our shared water unless they have the means to return it uncontaminated into the water cycle. Fracking is an industrial process that forever contaminates the water it uses. The water contaminated in this process is injected deep underground and cannot ever be used again. It’s up to all of us to take a stand on protecting our water, not protecting or defending those who contaminate it. It is OUR water!

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