Frackfree Mahoning Valley Calls in Reinforcements for Misinformation Campaign
Coming off the fourth defeat of its “Community Bill of Rights” anti-fracking ballot measure, and two court rulings against local fracking bans, Frackfree Mahoning Valley called for reinforcements last week in an effort to prolong its misinformation campaign.
The group invited New York activist Lois Gibbs to speak in Youngstown in front of the Northstar 1 injection well. To her credit, Ms. Gibbs at least admitted her true intentions in coming to Youngstown. According to the Youngstown Business Journal, she said, “The area’s economy should not involve fracking in any capacity.”
Yet, even with this clear acknowledgment, it’s worth taking a look at some of her claims at the event (as well as the claims of Frackfree Mahoning Valley) and providing the facts:
Gibbs claim: “‘Let’s not take radioactive material and put it on this land. This all goes into the aquifer and into people’s water.’ With the well unplugged, she said, rain, melting snow and runoff can mix with the residue and contaminate the aquifer underground.”
Fact: In suggesting that the Northstar 1 well is putting water at risk, Ms. Gibbs’ claim goes directly against what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined. In a recent report, EPA found:
“There are approximately 30,000 Class II active disposal wells in the United States used to dispose of oil and gas related wastes, many of which have operated for decades. EPA is unaware of any USDW contamination resulting from seismic events related to injection-induced seismicity. (emphasis added)
As EID has noted on several occasions, the state of Ohio has some of the most stringent regulations on Class II injection wells, even surpassing those of the U.S. EPA. Further, the U. S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report last year, which found that states “have safeguards in their programs that EPA has deemed protective of underground sources of drinking water.”
Gibbs claim: “This is not a jobs issue. The jobs don’t come here for local people. They’re out-of-state people working the pads.”
Fact: That would be news to all the Ohioans and union members who have been put to work in the Mahoning Valley over the past few years, thanks to shale development. According to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, as of 2014 189,793 jobs have been supported by the oil and gas industry, driving down the entire state’s unemployment rate. In fact, Mahoning, Columbiana, and Trumbull Counties were all included in a recent EID report, which showed unemployment rates plummeting in shale counties. Just three months ago, the Youngstown Regional Chamber reported that there have been 4,000 direct and indirect jobs created from shale development and more than $5 billion in investments from shale into the Mahoning Valley and surround areas.
Doug Fowler (Frackfree) claim: ‘We haven’t seen the production from these wells.”
Fact: Ohio’s Utica shale production has soared. Last year was another banner year with shale production rising 200 percent for oil and 350 percent for natural gas. This news is part of a trend that we’ve seen from the 2012 to 2013 numbers, which showed Ohio’s shale production nearly doubling year-to-year.
Doug Fowler (Frackfree) claim: “We aren’t seeing the leases paid off. They’re a disappointment.”
Fact: Ohio has seen billions – yes, billions – of dollars paid in early bonus and ongoing royalty monies for the leasing of mineral rights. These royalties are changing lives and providing a much-needed hand-up in some of the most economically depressed areas of the state. Millions in new tax revenues have also been paid to local county governments, providing infrastructure support and economic development initiatives.
Losing the debate
There’s a good reason that the Youngstown “Community Bill of Rights” has failed spectacularly four times now. Opposition to the measure was bipartisan and it included various socio-economic groups, as well as business and labor organizations. The voice of the concerned citizens who opposed the “Community Bill of Rights” was so strong that it led to the creation of the Mahoning Valley Coalition for Jobs and Economic Growth.
This latest stunt by Frackfree Mahoning Valley may get some headlines, but its agenda has been resoundingly rejected by Mahoning Valley residents as shale development continues to provide jobs and economic growth in the region. And that’s good news for everyone involved.