Appalachian Basin

Russell Township Zoning Commission Focuses On The Facts

Last night Energy in Depth – Ohio attended a public forum in Russell Township located in Geauga County in northeast Ohio. There were well over 150 people in attendance consisting mostly of local township residents who came to listen to the panel and learn more about the natural gas industry. The organizer of the event and panel was Mr. Tom Warren. Mr. Warren sits on the Zoning Commission and is also a candidate for State Representative. The other members of the panel were Mr. Pete MacKenzie of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, Mr. Gregory Studen who was a Russell Township Trustee and now serves on the Chagrin Valley Watershed Partners and Dr. Beverly Saylor a sedimentology professor at Case Western Reserve University.

The event opened with comments from Mr. Warren and opening statements by the panel. As you will see in the video below the members of the panel have great knowledge of the industry and of Ohio’s geology and have the proper understanding of the topic.

As the event progressed many topics were covered from the basics of  how is the industry regulated in Ohio to the more complex topic of well pad design and construction. The idea of public forums involving the oil and gas industry is certainly not new and Energy in Depth – Ohio has been to most of them.  That said, what stuck out at this event was it was a fact based conversation about the topics folks in Russell Township wanted to know about.

There was no yelling or debating back and forth or someone being called out. Even the paper inviting the public to meeting described it as “civil” in their reporting. There is much passion of both sides of this issue and while Ohio has been one of 33 oil and gas-producing states since 1860, there are still some in the Buckeye State that have not been exposed to exploration and production.

Mr. MacKenzie was asked by Mr. Warren to explain to the audience how a well is developed and what companies, per Ohio regulation, put in place to protect human health and safety.

When they build a pad for drilling a shale well the principle reason for designing that structurally is for safety and for containment and management of what is going to happen on that well site – Pete MacKenzie, Vice President of Operations, Ohio Oil and Gas Association.

Adding to Mr. MacKenzie’s comments about the construction and production of a well site, Dr. Saylor talked about addressing the concerns residents have about protecting the water aquifer.

It remains that there is no evidence that salt, salt waters that are full of all sorts of nasty things are migrating up fractures being created are maybe other pathways on any kind of rapid time scale – Dr. Beverly Saylor, Professor of sedimentology at Case Western Reserve University.

This event was a great example of a fact based conversation regarding natural gas development.  The general public was invited, a panel of experts spoke based on their training, education and experience and folks were able to get their questions answered.

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