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Ohio Utica Shale

Brunswick business owner fighting anti-fracking council resolution

By Bob Downing Published: February 23, 2013

Michael Baach is fracking mad.

The president and chief executive officer of the Philpott Rubber Co. is strongly opposed to an anti-fracking resolution pending in Brunswick City Council.

He is prepared to move a growing subsidiary, Philpott Energy & Transportation Co., a company that serves natural gas drillers, out of Brunswick, if council approves the resolution.

"It is not a threat," he says of the pending move out of Brunswick. "It’s just a fact of business. If this happens, what we’re going to do we won’t do here."

The measure could come up for a final vote on Monday.

The city is not trying to anger Baach. It is trying to make its own point.

The city wants to express its displeasure to the Ohio Legislature that communities like Brunswick have no say in local drilling, officials said.

In 2004, Ohio law was changed to take away home rule and that gave the Ohio Department of Natural Resources total control over drilling.

That doesn’t mollify the 56-year-old Baach.

The subsidiary, he says, expects to very soon hire additional drivers and workers and secure additional warehouse space.

The business is projected to continue growing in the coming years, he says.

The city, he says, would lose a significant amount of income tax, if the workers are moved to a new location outside of Brunswick.

No final decision has been made, but three or four options are being explored, he says.

Baach says he opposed to having Brunswick, Ohio on the side of his trucks when they visit well sites.

It could hurt his business if drillers were aware of Brunswick’s stance, he says.

"I can’t imagine our shale gas customers wanting to deal with a company that boasts of supporting an anti-energy city," he says.

He says he considers the resolution to be anti-business, adding that it sends the wrong message.

"This unnecessary legislation will make Brunswick a poster child for those that are anti-business in general and specifically anti-energy exploration and production," he says. "It sends a bad signal to business."

He even held a press conference last Monday to state his opposition to the council resolution. Earlier, he had addressed council.

Brunswick, Baach says, is unlikely to see any drilling so it makes no sense to pass such an anti-fracking resolution.

To date, Devon Energy, an Oklahoma-based company, has drilled one horizontal well near Lodi in Harrisville Township. It is the only well like that in Medina County. The results were disappointing and the company later plugged the well.

Brunswick should be doing more to attract drilling-related companies rather than chasing them away, Baach says.

His new company was created last February. It provides biodegradable and environmentally friendly cleansing agents that go into wells after they have been fracked and before they go into full production.

The cleansing of sand and chemicals by the proprietary polymers that are pumped from the bottom of the well enables the wells to operate at peak efficiency.

The new subsidiary now accounts for about 25 percent of Philpott Rubber’s business, he says.

The firm has five crews working with drillers in West Virginia, he says.

The company intends to market its products in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and perhaps New York in the Utica and Marcellus shales.

Philpott Rubber, an employee-owned company, was founded 124 years ago. It specializes in custom-molded rubber and plastic parts, standard polymeric products and quality adhesives. It has 30 workers.

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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.