Our View: Facking fracking

By: Matthew Balsinger

illustrated by Brian Palubiak

Chesapeake Energy is bringing jobs to Ohio. They’re buying up land and mineral rights throughout the state in preparation for one of the largest hydraulic fracking operations in the United States.

Of course, those who sell their mineral rights to Chesapeake will be rewarded handsomely with a pay check every year for the use of their well. Sounds like an awesome deal considering the terrible state of our economy, and the greatest thing about it is that you don’t have to do anything or even worry about anything!  That is, of course, if environmental health is not of your concern and you enjoy drinking bottled water.

Hydraulic fracking is an invasive drilling operation. Gas companies dig wells thousands of feet deep and use explosives as well as water and chemicals to dislodge gas from shale layers deep underneath our feet.  Of course, according to the gas companies, it’s perfectly safe!

There’s the saying “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” So why don’t people think about this too-good-to-be-true offer from Chesapeake? Ohio jobs, money for doing nothing and gas for power.  It almost seems to good to be true…and it most certainly is.

There are no safety precautions to prevent leaks into the water table as well as very few precautions to check the integrity of the well to begin with. What’s even better is that the chemicals the companies use to dislodge the hydrocarbons from the shale do not have to be reported to the public because of copyright laws. Once the chemicals are pumped back to the surface, Chesapeake plans to sell the byproducts as salt for the roads in Ohio to make even more money.

Just this past Sunday, in fact, the Environmental Protection Agency published a report exposing that chemicals directly linked to the fracking process were found in Wyoming wells.

This past spring, Republicans in Congress led an effort to defund the Environmental Protection Agency.  To date, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has had 92 votes aimed at the EPA, as well as 16 votes aimed at dismantling the Clean Water Act, the very act that was created after the Cuyahoga River caught fire in order to prevent such a thing from happening again.

We should ask ourselves if money and temporary jobs are really worth the possible destruction of our environment, as well as our drinking water. There is one thing of which we can be clear; the jobs that Chesapeake will bring to Ohio because of hydraulic fracking are not permanent. They will exist until the fracking wells run dry and then Chesapeake will move on, as oil and gas companies always do.

It is of the utmost importance that we fight fracking in the state of Ohio. Chesapeake and the Republican Party will not be around to help Ohioans when fracking goes wrong. We will be left to ourselves to fix the problems we allowed to happen out of greed. We must not fall into the trap of thinking there is a quick and easy solution to our economic troubles. If something sounds too good be true, it probably is.