Appalachian Basin

Recent Rallies Show Dwindling Support of Anti-Fossil Fuel Activists

If recent events are any indicator- it appears support for banning hydraulic fracturing is fizzling out in the Buckeye State. Of course, in reviewing past protests its equally possible that support never existed in the first place.  Regardless, two rallies held in the past two weeks show support is waning.  In Youngstown the ”Freedom from Toxic Fracking Waste National Rally Day” and in Mansfield  a rally billed as the “Global Frackdown Rally for Rights”  each drew roughly 30 people in support.  Taken together, these events clearly show the ever-dwindling support the anti- Utica Shale movement here in Ohio.

Youngstown, OH 

Mansfield, OH

In case you are wondering, according to the 2010 U.S. Census the population of Youngstown is 66,982 and the population of Mansfield is 47,821.  That means that assuming all the individuals who participated in these events were residents of the cities where the events took place. However, we know from previous events we have visited that often outsiders help protestors bolster their numbers.

There’s good reason why Ohioans view the anti-shale development effort with a level of speculation. Even though Utica Shale development remains in its infancy, counties throughout Ohio are seeing some very positive impacts from development without any negative impacts on the environment. Some examples of these positive impacts are noted below.

Carroll County, the current capital of Utica Shale development, has had its unemployment rate drop by more than 2 ½ points in just one year. Meanwhile, Jefferson County has had its unemployment rate drop by a full percentage point in a year and has also gained 11 new companies thanks to Utica Shale development.  Mahoning County now has its lowest unemployment rate since October 2008 and has increased tax revenue by 6.3% over the past year.  These statistics are nothing short of amazing considering the current state of our economy.

While some groups continue their attempts to cast a negative light on shale development with outlandish stories and sometimes sensational claims, counties in eastern Ohio are living proof this development is beneficial and devoid of the horror stories that activists promote.  This is easily noticed by the fact that most of those speaking ill of development are outside of where development is actually occurring.  This trend exists in Pennsylvania as well where polls show that 63% of the population supports shale development, with a majority of those in opposition being outside the development area.

But this won’t stop outside interests from putting all of their effort to stop shale development in Ohio.

Organizations like Food and Water Watch, NRDC and Earth First are stepping up in their efforts to bring out of state influence to bear on this discussion.  Each one of these organizations will be ramping up their outreach to re-energize the anti-shale development movement.  As has been the case in the past, unfounded criticisms of shale development and in some cases disproved accusations will be used to bolster the ranks of anti-shale development supporters. Fortunately, Ohioans are beginning to see the real benefits of shale development and can see through these groups anti-fossil fuel propaganda and distortions.

These two protests are just a small snapshot of how a small vocal minority is trying to take away opportunities from Ohioans because they are against traditional energy sources.  Meanwhile, a majority of Ohioans understand that the safe and responsible development of the Utica Shale is helping put Ohioans back to work by reviving entire industries, is saving thousands on avoided utility costs, and is improving our environment by significantly reducing carbon emissions. In fact, shale development is helping the U.S. lead the world in climate change reductions.

Given all these facts, its easy to see why the opposition is having difficulty gaining buy-in.  The facts, it seems, just simply aren’t on their side.

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