Appalachian Basin

Out of State Activists Disrupt Business

On Tuesday morning, a group of environmental extremists stormed the New Matamoras UIC storage site for GreenHunter Water, disrupting business and terrorizing the staff while a fellow activist erected a pole, anchored by a brine truck and a fence, climbed to the top and refused to come down.

If this scenario sounds familiar, it is because Energy In Depth covered their initial training previously in Earth First Climbing Into Ohio’s Forests.  What was once a training exercise has become a practice in Ohio , one that threatens the safety of not only the workers on the site, but the activists attempting such reckless stunts.

The group, which calls themselves Appalachian Resist,  brought nearly 100 individuals to protest the use of injection wells and the potential of barging brine down the Ohio River.  The activists dressed in Hazmat suits continued to occupy the premises, essentially stopping the workday while a fellow member of the group sat in a makeshift owls nest.

The problem with this action, other than what they did is illegal and unsafe, is that these folks are protesting without an understanding of the facts regarding Class II well injection.

The EPA has declared the use of injection wells as a “safe and inexpensive” means of disposal, with the main objective of the UIC program ensuring the protection of underground sources of drinking water. The practice is regulated under the Underground Injection Control program of the Safe Drinking Water Act, passed by Congress in 1974.

Currently there are 172,068 Class II UIC wells in the United States, and they are considered the preferred, environmentally safe method for disposal of oilfield fluid wastes. Ohio gained primacy of its UIC program from the U.S. EPA in 1983 with the passage of HB 501 in 1985.  Class II wells are the only method of disposal for brine and produced waters.

In being granted primacy, Ohio has been able to go over and above federal regulations by instituting unannounced inspections every 11–12 weeks and conducts continuous mechanical integrity monitoring or monthly mini-tests to demonstrate continuous mechanical integrity to ensure proper well functionality. In addition, all new wells in Ohio are required to be continuously monitored and will include an automatic shut-off device set to terminate operations if the permitted maximum allowable surface injection pressure is exceeded, thanks to the most recent update of the program in SB 315 signed into law last summer.

Furthermore, to ensure our water remains safe, these Class II wells use six layers of cement and steel to eliminate any potential of the brine coming into contact with any drinking water before or after reaching its intended injection zone.  Please read Energy In Depth’s earlier article in which we had the opportunity to visit an injection well site to gain an even better understanding of the process.

Now that we have, again, dispelled the myth that injection wells are somehow unsafe, let’s take a closer look at Tuesday’s unfortunate event.

Once the activists took over the site, the employees were able to call the Sheriff’s office to ensure as little damage was done as possible. Once the Sheriff’s office made it to the site, many of the protesters dispersed, but the man in owl’s nest and few more of friends felt they needed to continue to break the law.

In all, ten people were arrested for their unlawful conduct.  The man in the owl’s nest, Nate Ebert from Athens County, was arrested for criminal trespassing and resisting arrest.  His 9 other cohorts, Peter Garcia, 34, of Minot, N.D.; Matthew Almonte, 21, of Lithia, Fla.; Subina Ahmed, 22, of Santa Rosa, Calif.; Wendy Jennings, 34, of Minneapolis, Minn.; Jessica Clark, 22, of Kalamazoo, Mich.; Alexandra Kotcheff, 26, of Beverly Hills, Calif.; Steven Schorzman, 25, of Hamilton, Mont.; Patrick Perry, 21, of Athens; and Seth Schlotterbeck, 29, of Athens were all arrested for criminal trespassing.

Here is where it gets interesting –  if you look at the list, it seems that 70% of the folks arrested are not even from Ohio.  Seems kind of odd they felt the need to come to Ohio to tell us how to live.  What seems even stranger is these people must have used a car or possibly even a plane that uses fuel from oil and gas development to come protest oil and natural gas development.  Hypocrisy at its finest.

In the end, ten activists got to spend the night in the Washington County Jail, sleeping in a warm cell heated by natural gas.

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