Appalachian Basin

Youngstown Profs Join Effort to Dupe Public on Anti-Fracking Ballot Measure

Yesterday, local activist and Youngstown State University geology professor Ray Beiersdorfer hosted yet another press conference in support of the twice-defeated Youngstown “Community Bill of Rights” measure, which is once again on the May ballot next Tuesday.  This time around, Frackfree Mahoning announced it has rounded up 20 Youngstown State University faculty members to support passage of the charter amendment.

After close review of their statement, it would seem some faculty members put too much trust in their colleague instead of researching the matter for themselves.  With the election right around the corner, it is important people know the facts in regards to the claims made by this group of academics-turned-activists:

CLAIM: “We recommend a YES vote because fracking for shale gas has been scientifically linked with birth defects in Colorado”

FACT:  The study referenced was so inaccurate that Colorado’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Larry Wolk had to issue a statement discrediting the study.  “As Chief Medical Officer, I would tell pregnant women and mothers who live, or who at-the-time-of-their-pregnancy lived, in proximity to a gas well not to rely on this study as an explanation of why one of their children might have had a birth defect,” said Wolk. “Many factors known to contribute to birth defects were ignored in this study.”

The study also isn’t very “scientific,” either.  According to Wolk, “The authors cite nearly three pages of ‘limitations’ to their findings (pages 14-16). And, the findings showed only association, not causation, and the statistical differences in birth defects were miniscule.”

CLAIM: “scientifically linked with…..high levels of air and water pollution in several states”

FACT:  Ohio has implemented new regulations making our state a leader in mitigating air emissions from production sites.  The rules are so stringent that they have received praise from the Environmental Defense Fund, the Ohio Environmental Council, and were just referenced in the New York Times by EDF’s President Fred Krupp and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who wrote: “Ohio is emerging as a leader in reducing air pollution from leaky oil and gas equipment”

Meanwhile, state regulatory agencies in Colorado, Texas, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia have all studied emissions from well pads and concluded that there is no threat to public health

It has also been well documented that hydraulic fracturing does not pose a credible risk of contaminating groundwater. Former U.S. EPA administrator Lisa Jacksonstate regulators across the country, and reports by the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the Ground Water Protection Council, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have all shown that hydraulic fracturing is protective of groundwater.

Hydraulic fracturing has even been praised by President Obama’s former top oil and gas regulator for federal lands, Ken Salazar. “From my opinion and from what I’ve seen,” Salazar noted, “I believe hydraulic fracking is, in fact, safe.”

CLAIM: “scientifically linked with……as well as earthquakes right here in the Mahoning Valley and elsewhere”

FACT:  The likelihood of induced seismicity from hydraulic fracturing is exceedingly low, as stated by several experts and studies on the matter. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has also addressed the issue in Ohio to minimize the risk of any future induced seismicity.

It should be noted, too, that the recent seismic events in Mahoning County caused no injury or property damage. The magnitudes of those events were the equivalent of a truck passing by a house, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

CLAIM:   “companies are not required to disclose the type and amount of chemicals they use during the hydraulic fracturing process”

FACT:  Ohio has always been a full disclosure state.  In fact, with the passage of Senate Bill 315 in 2012, Ohio provided even more transparency by requiring operators to disclose the type and amounts of chemicals to both the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and

Also, operators are bound by requirements of the Community Right-to-Know Act (passed in 1986), which mandates that detailed product information sheets be drawn up, updated, and made immediately available to first-response and emergency personnel in case of an accident on-site.

CLAIM:  “Let’s slow down because it has not been adequately regulated”

FACT:  Following the passage of Senate Bill 165, the State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Regulations (STRONGER), a multi-stakeholder organization whose purpose is to assist states in documenting the environmental regulations associated with the exploration, development and production of oil and gas, audited Ohio’s program.  Ohio received exemplary reviews from the group  for its pro-active improvements to Ohio’s natural gas regulations.

Since the STRONGER review, Ohio has updated oil and gas regulations twice with Senate Bill 315 and House Bill 59 to keep Ohio adequately regulated.

Ohio leads the nation both in well casing standards to protect groundwater and in regulating air emissions.  It is clear Utica Shale development has been an economic boon to the Mahoning Valley, and is being done in a responsible manner.  On Tuesday, voters in Youngstown should be provided with the facts instead of activist rhetoric under the auspice of science.

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