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Ohio Utica Shale

Charges reduced, Athens 8 plead guilty to disorderly conduct

By Bob Downing Published: March 31, 2014

From two Athens County grass-roots groups last week:

Charges Reduced for The Athens 8 Arrested at the K&H Injection Well Rally

The Eight farmers and local business leaders, who were charged with criminal trespass for blocking trucks carrying fracking waste leading to a fracking waste disposal site operated by K&H Partners of West Virginia in early February, all took a plea deals this morning in Athens County Municipal Court.The eight plead to a lower charge of disorderly conduct, a minor misdemeanor, and received a $150 fine, $100 of which was suspended. Those arrested include: Kip Rondy, owner of Green Edge Farms; Michelle Ajamian, owner of Shagbark Seed and Mill; Christine Hughes, owner of the Village Bakery, Smiles Welch, a local pastor, Sean Pavlac, Timothy Fultz, Caprice Huffman and Liz Florentino.

Kip Rondy read the following statement at the hearing on March 24:

“Your Honor, we, the persons now before the Court, are persons of reason who have done all that we could within the statute of the law to prevent the destruction of our natural, economic and social environment. The Commissioners of Athens County, as well as the City Council of Athens Ohio, have unanimously enacted a resolution opposing the development of an additional injection well at the K&H site. K&H at present is daily injection 2,100 barrels of toxic, radioactive waste at its location in Troy Township. Much of that said waste is being generated by out-of-state fracking operations. The new proposed injection well at the K&H facility will allow for the disposal of an additional 4,000 barrels of waste, daily. Despite appeals form the citizenry of the Athens community, the aforementioned actions of both the elected county and city officials, documented earthquakes, and other significant environmental damage at other injection well sites within the boundaries of the state of Ohio, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has proven to be unresponsive in addressing these community concerns. ODNR has failed in its duty as protectorate of the citizenry and the resources delegated to them by statute. The ODNR has failed to hold public hearings concerning the proposed injection well, ignored and denied lawful information requests, and continues to act in a capricious and arbitrary manner concerning the citizen's stated objections. It is then, when we the Citizenry of Athens county, facing the real and permanent threat to our aquifer, our air, our earth - when the will of lawfully elected officials is ignored - that the acts of civil disobedience before the court today are not merely justified, but become obligatory. Citizens so informed must, at some level, engage in civil disobedience on behalf of themselves, future generations, and society at large.”

 

Retired Athens County Municipal Judge Douglas Bennett, who is notorious for commenting on cases, said "I'm resisting the urge to quote Harry Shearer, what the frack." Shearer hosts a weekly syndicated public radio show. He also commented "Speaking as a tax payer, I was reading in the Wall Street Journal that Ohio has the lowest tax rates on oil and gas in the nation" and jumped in when Attorney Grace thanked Prosecutor Eliason for working with K&H to arrange the plea deal saying "K&H is not a party to the matter here, which is between the defendants and the state of Ohio." He dismissed the protesters by thanking them.


 

A support rally led by the Activist Choir followed the sentencing near the steps of the Athens County courthouse.

 

The K&H permit is under appeal by the Athens County Fracking Action Network, following a unanimous vote in December by the Athens City Council and the Athens County Commissioners to oppose the permitting of the second well. Rally organizers want K&H and the ODNR to revoke the permit and ban injection wells in Ohio and in Athens County specifically.

Rally organizers included members of Appalachia Resist and the Athens County Fracking Action Network. Further information, including an in-depth timeline of the legal battle over the K&H 2 well, can be found at www.acfan.org and appalachiaresist.wordpress.com

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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.