Sugarcreek Residents Eager to Learn About Coming Development
This week the Sugar Creek Rotary sponsored an informational session at the Valley View Community Church. The session featured a wide variety of speakers in a panel to address the community’s questions and concerns regarding oil and natural gas development. The panel included Chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Dave Hall, Dale Arnold of the Ohio Farm Bureau, Rep. Al Landis, Tuscarawas Co. Engineer Joe Bachman, , Lloyd MacAdam, Deputy Director of District 11 of the Ohio Department of Transportation and Eugene Chini of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Oil and Gas.
Robert Eckert, president of the Sugarcreek Rotary, served as moderator and asked the panel an array of questions ranging from issues such as water quality to road maintenance. The 160+ person crowd was eager to learn what will be coming to their communities.
The first question of the night focused on protecting water supplies and ensuring they are not disputed or affected by development.
Eugene Chini, ODNR Oil and Gas Administrator, fielded the question pointing out the well casing rules put forth with the passage of Senate Bill 165. With today’s regulations, there are roughly four layers of steel tubing and specialized cement in place to ensure fresh water will not become contaminated. His answer touched upon many points that have been made here before when EID-Ohio published an informative Op-Ed by Marietta College of Petroleum Engineering chairman Bob Chase.
Dale Arnold, of the Ohio Farm Bureau, told landowners conduct baseline water testing so they understand the current state of their water supply. Mr. Arnold indicated this is especially important as he has found that many private drinking water wells in Ohio are beyond their original life expectancy. He also suggested owners inspect their septic tanks, as they contain many of the same 20 compounds found in development. Once both are cleared of any contamination, Mr. Arnold encouraged the landowners to go back and get a certified test from the health department:
Rep. Al Landis (R-Dover) , also provided the audience insight on how to approach water testing when signing a lease. He recommended that when one signs a lease, they include a provision that the company tests their well and provide them with documentation of the results.
Rep. Landis continued by providing additional insight into the development of Ohio’s recently revised oil and gas regulations. Landis pointed out that two local politicians including now Congressmen Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) and State Senator Jason Wilson (D) both sponsored SB 165, with Ohio House Members Dave Hall and Allan Sayre having sponsored the companion legislation in the House. The area was well represented when SB 165 was enacted in 2010.
When asked about a proposed moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, Chairman Hall informed the audience that Ohio has been utilizing hydraulic fracturing for decades without incident.We (Ohio) have been using hydraulic fracturing as a completion and enhancement technique for 60 years, and have recently developed 13 Utica shale wells in Ohio without issue. The practice is safe and efficient. This successful history was largely developed before our regulations overhaul which, as detailed in the STRONGER report, is an aggressive overhaul that provides a stronger regulatory program. Providing an anecdotal example of fear of the unknown and reactions it may elicit, Chairman Hall told the crowd a nice story about how, at the turn of the century, his great grandmother said the church was afraid of electricity coming to the area – they were afraid it was going to burn their house down. They were so scared they slept in the barn for a week.
Chairman Hall continued with the history of successfully enhanced wells in Ohio. He informed the crowd there is a lot of bad information being spread regarding the process of fracturing, but that residents should not succumb to the fear mongering. As a former Ohio Mid Eastern Government Alliance Director, he had to see people with no hope of jobs or progress. Now he sees a “sparkle back in their eyes” with this shale development.
Chairman Hall touched upon a very important topic in his story: Eastern Ohio is poised to benefit greatly from the shale development. The influx of jobs and development will mostly take place in this region of the state. The Chairman’s message was simple, eastern Ohio has been forgotten about for too long, and to take away this opportunity based on propaganda would essentially be the last nail in the coffin for a climb back to prosperity.
Given the diverse panel, and the very informative panel presenting the benefits and the safety involved in the process of oil and natural gas development in Ohio many in attendance took away a better understanding of the development that is to come.