“Know” vs “No” – Tales from the Utica Capital

This week, Chesapeake Energy announced they will expand their operations by opening a Utica Shale field office near Canton in Louisville.  It’s more good news for the city, one that has seen a multitude of energy or energy service companies like Purple Land ManagementRettew Associates, and Caiman Energy move into the region, invest in the community, and create new local jobs.

And thanks to the demands of the growing oil and gas industry, the greater Canton area is also benefitting from Ohio’s steel resurgence with the Timken Company’s $225 million expansion at their Faircrest Steel Plant.

As one might expect, residents of the northeastern Ohio community are taking notice – and pride – in the growth it is experiencing thanks to the development of our state’s resources in the Utica Shale formation. The increase in businesses moving in to the area prompted Canton Mayor William Healy to dub the city the “Utica Capital”, and recognize not only the benefits development has brought to date, but it’s overall impact on the city’s (and the state’s) future as well.

I believe that the exploration of Utica Shale by the oil and gas industry and how we embrace this industry will be a defining moment in our history. – Mayor William Healy (Mayor dubs Canton the ‘Utica Capital’, 3/1/12)

While most of the region’s residents enjoy the benefits of shale development in eastern Ohio and support the industry, there is a small (but vocal) number of citizens who continue to stand in opposition of responsible oil and gas development at every turn.

As Chesapeake announced it’s expansion – an operation that will bring both construction and long-term Ohio jobs to the area – a small group of activists descended on the Canton streets, and presented the Canton City Council testimony riddled with misinformation.

Energy in Depth – Ohio was on the scene to document these (repeatedly debunked) claims, and present the Council with testimony based in fact rather than fear and falsehoods.

Although their “protest” was advertised in the media, their march through downtown Canton only included around a dozen people:

Following their march, one of the protesters provided a statement to the Canton City Council, urging them to hydraulic fracturing. What followed was a string of some of the most erroneous and egregious claims regarding the process you could find.

Did you catch all of that? If you’ve been following us here at eidohio.org, most of these statements have been debunked and clarified on numerous occasions on this. This clip provides a good opportunity to revisit some of these claims, and set the record straight.

CLAIM: “No amount of money is worth poisoning our water.” (:11)

FACT: There has never, in the six-decade long history of hydraulic fracturing, been a case of water contamination linked to the process. This mythical link between groundwater contamination and hydraulic fracturing has been disproven by several academic institutions recently, and refuted by dozens of state regulators and engineering and academic experts. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has repeatedly debunked this claim, most recently in April, stating “in no case have we made a definitive determination that the [fracturing] process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.”

CLAIM: “If fracking is so safe, why did SB 315 gag our doctors?” (:14)

FACT:  There is no gag order to be found anywhere in this regulatory package. In fact, the legislation makes it abundantly clear that in the event of an emergency, and for the purposes of diagnosing a patient, that medical professionals will have complete access to all constituents used at a natural gas site.  From the legislation:

  • (H)(1) If a medical professional, in order to assist in the diagnosis or treatment of an individual who was affected by an incident associated with the production operations of a well, requests the exact chemical composition of each product, fluid, or substance and of each chemical component in a product, fluid, or substance that is designated as a trade secret pursuant to division (I) of this section, the person claiming the trade secret protection pursuant to that division shall provide to the medical professional the exact chemical composition of the product, fluid, or substance and of the chemical component in a product, fluid, or substance that is requested (emphasis added). (page 65)
  • (2) A medical professional who receives information pursuant to division (H)(1) of this section shall keep the information confidential and shall not disclose the information for any purpose that is not related to the diagnosis or treatment of an individual who was affected by an incident associated with the production operations of a well. Nothing in division (H)(2) of this section precludes a medical professional from making any report required by law or professional ethical standards. (emphasis added). (page 65)

There is no inclusion of a gag order. The law doesn’t prohibit any medical professional from sharing this information with their patients or other health care practitioners.

CLAIM: “What will be our next grade when we have cancer causing benzenes and volatile organic compounds spewing 24-7 from these wells? Will Canton be the next cancer cluster in Ohio? Mayor Tillman warned us about the toxic air emissions.”  (1:22)

FACT: Mayor Tillman, one of the stars of Gasland and a professional, paid activist, has been the primary promoter of this claim, and has been acknowledged as a source in this statement. If you recall, EID-Ohio was on site the last time the former mayor of DISH, Texas visited Stark County, where we had an opportunity to debunk his oft-repeated claims. Our full post on Mr. Tillman’s trip to Plain Township can be found here.

For the sake of brevity, we will not go through Mr. Tillman’s claims point-by-point again in this column, but thankfully there have been multiple studies directly (and, in two separate studies on the town of DISH itself, specifically) refuting them.  EID-Ohio did a full breakdown of these study’s findings, which can be found here.

Since it was mentioned in this statement however, it is worth highlighting one of the key findings of a May 2010 study from the Texas Dept. of State Health Services on DISH as it relates to benzene exposure:

 “DSHS paid particular attention to benzene because of its association with natural gas wells. The only residents who had higher levels of benzene in their blood were smokers. Because cigarette smoke contains benzene, finding it in smokers’ blood is not unusual.” (News Release, 5/12/10) “

CLAIM: “Each member of council must do their due diligence on this new technology.” (2:39)

FACT: Hydraulic fracturing is nothing new. It’s been used as an extraction technique in the United States for the last six decades, and here in Ohio since the early 1950’s. In fact, in that time over 80,000 wells have been completed using the process. Thankfully, Energy in Depth – Ohio’s own Mike Chadsey was on hand to highlight the fact that, not only is hydraulic fracturing nothing new in Ohio, but also not new in Stark County either– a region with a long history of oil and gas development.

For those of you in the room who are not aware the total number of wells drilled in Stark County is 6,457, of those producing wells 2,998. – Mike Chadsey

Canton, and Stark County as a whole, continues to benefit greatly from the continued development of the Utica Shale. Again, most of the citizens recognize that fact, and have done diligent research on the practices, processes and benefits of this development. They know what this means for their future, and the future of America’s energy resources.

While those who say “no” to the safe, responsible development of oil and gas in any form will continue to promote and spread misinformation and fallacies, we can be thankful the people who “know” the facts and see the positive impacts the oil and gas industry is bringing are working hard to drive our state’s economy forward through development of our state’s natural resources.

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Comments

  1. BIG John R Morrow says:

    Good blog the more ppl know about the shale – gas industry the more accepting it will be.

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