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Pro-frackers look at economic boom, downplay environmental risks

By Mike sever | staff writer Published: February 15, 2013 4:00 AM

Proponents of the growing oil and natural gas industry in Ohio told Portage County Commissioners Thursday that the industry is regulated enough.

About two dozen people, many who listed themselves as members of the Portage County TEA Party, came to Thursday morning's commission session to say they welcome the economic expansion the industry is bringing.

Mike Chadsey, campaign manager for Energy In Depth, a community outreach program of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, said new horizontal hydraulic fracture drilling is bringing an economic boom to eastern Ohio.

"It's turning out to be pretty neat," he said. Carroll County landowners have reaped millions of dollars from land leases and area businesses have made more millions from drillers, Chadsey said. Carroll County leads the state with 189 well permits.

Chadsey said the industry expects to spend $1 billion in Carroll county to build pipelines in the next few years to move natural gas to market.

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Commissioner Kathleen Chandler questioned the use of massive amounts (5 to 7 million gallons per fracturing) of water for the fracturing -- water that is then injected deep underground because it is contaminated with chemicals and natural byproducts from the fracturing process.

Chandler said she was concerned that putting used water into injection wells removes it from aquifers and the water cycle. "I am concerned that eventually our water table will go down and we won't have enough water" for the future, she said. Chadsey said the industry is moving away from using water to using gas, gel or other nonwater methods for fracturing the rock because water is expensive and tough to recycle.

Chandler also expressed concern that Portage County is taking waste from Pennsylvania and other counties. Portage has 17 injection wells, the highest concentration in Ohio. There are also 14 permits for drilling into the Utica and Point Pleasant shale layers for natural gas and oil production.

Ohio has permitted 518 horizontal wells, of which 236 have been drilled, according to current records from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Benjamin Kotkowski of Lakeside Sand & Gravel in Shalersville said his business has already benefited by supplying aggregate for two well pads. "We're expecting quite a boom" as more wells are drilled here, he said. "We're happy it's here."

Tom Zawistowski of the TEA Party said commissioners should be leading and not putting up roadblocks to the industry. He said people who have raised concerns about the safety of the large-scale horizontal hydraulic fracturing process are raising "potential worst-case" fears and scaring the public. He said claims of the toxicity of chemicals used in fracturing are overblown. He compared them to hair shampoo and dishwashing detergent.

Asked by Chandler to list the downside of the industry, Chadsey said the most frequently mentioned issues are the constant truck traffic during the drilling process, which goes on day and night for three-to-four months.

Once wells are producing, companies will be running new pipelines through the countryside to connect the wells. "It takes a number of weeks, months, years to regrow whatever is there," he said.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1125 or msever@recordpub.com

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anonymous Feb 15, 2013 12:36 PM

Actually Ian, The lease they are trying to put together around my home I am told is 1200 acres. One hole close to the state Rt with 2 legs branching out each way then turning and ending up with 3 legs running the same direction out across the lease from there..... As for that benzene the anti drilling people like to bring up...... In all probability none of them will ever come into contact with a higher concentration of benzene than when they filled their gas tank.

anonymous Feb 15, 2013 12:06 PM

I was at that meeting. Some points that didn't make it into the article:

1) Many of the chemicals in the water pumped into injection wells, such as benzene, were not added to the water by the drillers, it was picked up in the fracturing process. It originated in one well and went to another.

2) Not all that water is injected, some is sold to townships who spray it on roads.

3) A horizontal well covers 640 acres while a vertical well only covers 32. Drilling of each new horizontal well will allow up to 32 vertical wells to be capped.

4) The drillers bond the roads they use, often time improving a road before they start drilling so that it will handle the truck traffic. In fact, the repaving of Tallmadge Rd was expanded with funding from a driller.

anonymous Feb 15, 2013 11:25 AM

Red,I'm with ya on getting the gas line run by the house. Gas is sure going to be the way to go in Ohio far a long time. Mines all electric. Good at one point but no longer the deal of the day especially with them forcing our power plants to close with the new regulations.

anonymous Feb 15, 2013 11:20 AM

Since I didn't see it last night I didn't want to say anything but I immediately thought canton causing the fuss. They jumped in early with their mayor claiming stark to be the fracking capital now that Carrol county is getting the lions share of the work at this point they arent as happy just having the title. This is just starting and is going to spread out from there. As the gentleman explained yesterday at the meeting right now they are concentrating primarily east of Rt 77. They are learning more with each hole they drill though and things could change.

anonymous Feb 15, 2013 11:19 AM

The comments on this article added some interesting facts (apparently they're true) that made for better reading. Those came from Justathought and Redleg6. "Hiram" added nothing at all, and instead decided to insult a commentator by calling him names. My dear old Mom always said that you can tell when someone has nothing to add to a conversation nor has much sense when they swear or insult the other people. Hiram's personal attacks are an example of that.

anonymous Feb 15, 2013 11:07 AM

JT: I watch it for the local stories/weather report. The union demonstrating was from Canton. I hope they run a pipe line pass my house and I can tap in. I'm tired of heating with fuel oil(expensive), and cooking on an electric stove.

anonymous Feb 15, 2013 10:51 AM

No red I missed that one. Do you recall seeing any of the dozen or so stories done on the local hiring going on. I do. I also recall one local pipe fitters local getting a big grant to train welders because they simply don't have enough trained to handle the workload. This is just the beginning and I am confident there will be a lot more people in this state being employed directly and indirectly by the oil/gas industry. Yes there will be some coming into our state as well. Those people will be renting or buying homes they will be making any number of other purchases in our area stores and restaurants and such. Although concerned about getting as many jobs for Ohioans as possible, I don't think I'll start worrying too much over 1 story on channel 3. Actually, I had pretty much forgotten there even was a channel 3.

anonymous Feb 15, 2013 10:14 AM

Did anyone see last nights news,(ch.3 NBC) the demonstration in Carroll County by the pipelayer/fitters union. Appearently the fracking companies are bringing out of state labor to drill and lay pipe. The news story said 1 out of 5 is a local hire. So much for the jobs. We get to keep the hazardous waste.

anonymous Feb 15, 2013 9:56 AM

Attack, Hardly. state facts yes..... I do believe those meeting are recorded in fact I know they are. Feel free to listen for yourself and try to deny that his main concern appeared to be something other than I stated.... As for him not reaping the benefits now sorry that was a choice he made. Live with it and quit with the petty jealousy now. As for yourself, "Hiram" pretty much says enough.

anonymous Feb 15, 2013 9:41 AM

Ain't it something how JustaThought feels it is ok to attack the author of this article, but if we disagree with JustaThought it's a whole nother ball game. JustaThought is just another whiny hypocrite. @JustaThought, you obviously feel you know it all about everything, so why don't YOU write an editorial and sign your name to it? You obviously have the time for it, I mean geeze, how many more times you gonna come back here to read this. Get a life. lol

anonymous Feb 15, 2013 7:57 AM

"Pro-frackers look at economic boom, downplay environmental risks".. I dont know Steve, this may have been more accurate going with "Pro-frackers look at economic boom, Writer Whines about not getting any of Money" if I recall, that did seem to be one of your main concerns stated yesterday. Now looking back to when you purchased your home do you recall seeing in the contract where the seller was retaining the mineral rights? That was probably a factor in pricing the home. Thus you took your cut up front. You chose to save money then on the property you were purchasing figuring those mineral rights dont mean anything to you and bought land where the mineral rights were not being transferred with the property........ That was your choice but I rather doubt you signed under duress. Now looking back you want to have your cake and eat it too. You want the savings you took initially and now you are upset to see someone else possibly profit on what you made the conscious decision not to purchase back then. At least now I can see exactly where youre coming from on this.

anonymous Feb 15, 2013 5:08 AM

Did anyone bring up the drillers prefer to stay off those township and county roads as much as possible. Sometimes that's not possible but they do keep it to a minimum because they are liable for those roads where as when they are on a state route they are already paying road tax for its use. Once they leave the state route they have to pay for any damage done from truck traffic.It just makes sense financially to stay off those back roads. When they do have to use them they may well upgrade the road at their expense beforehand to handle the weight and make sure it is wide enough, costing the county or township nothing. We get a free road repair. They make sure any damage done to the road from their use is repaired when they are finished as well. Not exactly a bad deal for the county,townships or taxpayers is it. That's one we won't have to pay to repair with our tax dollars.