Two grass-roots groups in Ohio intend to fight the decision by the Muskingum watershed Conservancy Distrrict to sell water from two reservoirs to drillers duing the winter drawdown.
That decision calls for possible sales from Clendening Reservoir and Piedmont Lake.
The decision has angered the Southeast Ohio Alliance to Save Our Water and the Freshwater Accountability Project.
A legal challenge is possible, the groups said.
Here is the press release issued today by the groups:
The recent decision by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District to allow water sales from public reservoirs to serve the unconventional shale drilling industry has local property owners and local conservationists up in arms. The sudden reversal of promise by the unannounced vote on September 21 by the District Board to sell millions of gallons of reservoir water to serve the gas drilling industry is seen as a hypocritical betrayal of public trust. “What kind of faith can people have in a body of people who went against their own ruling to halt water sales but then cave in to corporate interests?" questioned Keith Sadler, a long-time proponent of public protections against big-money interests.
“The decision to sell water and the leasing of MWCD land for horizontal gas drilling around and under public reservoirs, essentially guarantees that those lakes will eventually be contaminated with toxic and radioactive waste from this unregulated industry. The shocking lack of responsibility to act for the public benefit violates the very principles on which the District was given public assets and warrants investigation into the continued right of MWCD to exist and to collect property taxes,” stated Terry Lodge, an attorney working with opponents of water sales and leasing next to public reservoirs.
Almost 50% of those who have leased land for hydraulic fracturing regret the decision, according to recent studies. “The MWCD is making irresponsible decisions on behalf of area landowners and their own lessees around these lakes. What they are doing threatens to destroy property values, threaten residents' health and ruin fresh drinking water supplies forever for profit. This cannot continue,” states Lea Harper, of Southeast Ohio Alliance to Save Our Water (SOASOW). Citizens have retained counsel and are planning several strategies to stop what they consider to be the wholesale destruction of public assets and total disregard for responsibilities assumed when valuable natural resources were given to the conservancy district to protect.
SOASOW has retained a prominent hydrogeologist to analyze the potential for lasting harm from drilling around and under the reservoirs. The FreshWater Accountability Project is asking
people to show support for this campaign to protect public reservoirs instead of turning them into
toxic sewers, by sending their tax-deductible donations earmarked to “FWAP” to Buckeye Forest Council (www.buckeyforestcouncil.org).
Among actions being planned to inform and organize those who would like to be more educated and involved in this important issue:
· On October 13, SOASOW will co-sponsor a public information event with the Ohio Environmental Council in Cambridge, Ohio at the Francis Family Restaurant downtown. The purpose will be to inform the public about the risks from horizontal drilling in the area and what can be done to lessen them. The meeting will take place from 10 am – 2 pm and is free to the public with lunch included.
· Fracking opponents and water conservationists are urged to attend the MWCD information meeting on October 17 at 6:00 p.m. at the Secrest Senior Center in Senecaville to protest the MWCD’s plans to exploit and endanger Seneca Lake by approving leasing of MWCD land and the permanent removal and pollution of the remaining lake water.
· Additionally, MWCD opponents and watershed preservationists will protest at the October 19 board meeting at 9 am in New Philadelphia followed by a rally at the Tuscarawas County Courthouse to protest the MWCD’s continued involvement in the oil and gas industry at the expense of its constituents. This event is being co-sponsored by Food and Water Watch (www.foodandwaterwatch.org).
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.
The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.
Earthjustice, a national eco-group.
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.
Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.
Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.