A report from Mary Greer of Concerned Citizens Ohio/Shalersville from Tuesday meeting of the Shalersville Township trustees in northern Portage County:
Concerned Citizens Ohio/Shalersville brought a nonbinding resolution to the Shalersville trustees Tuesday night, September 2, before an almost completely packed meeting room.
Dan Fejes, a Shalersville resident, introduced the resolution, explaining that it asks the trustees to sign a nonbinding and symbolic statement that expresses their concern about dangersinherent to oil and gas extraction and related industrial activity. Fejes stated that the resolution in no way endangers
either the trustees or the township from legal action by either the state or involved oil and gas companies.
“It is anti-democratic to strip away our right to local control,” Fejes said. “We are just asking that you express your dissatisfaction with that law.”
Nancy Vines, trustee, stated that the trustees would look at the resolution, ask their attorney to look it over, and probably make a decision by the next meeting.
Vines acknowledged that “a lot of farmers” in Shalersville don’t find anything wrong with fracking, and that the trustees have to represent their point of view. Fejes countered with the statement that approximately 450 petition signatures have already been obtained to support a far more stringent “ban.” He stated these are evidence that although some in Shalersville do favor the drilling, many people do not, but they are given no voice in opposing the dangerous and unpredictable technology. “No one is representing us,” he said.
More than half the citizens present also expressed their support for the resolution, from pleas for water safety to reminders of hundreds of trucks carrying hazardous brine to the importance of making wise decisions for future generations.
Vines reported that the trustees have concerns about Shalersville as the locality where the county water wells are located, and she stated that all three trustees have requested the commissioners to look into a potential twenty mile protective radius around this water resource. The trustees have also introduced other creative solutions for stopping the proliferation of injection wells, such as charging a higher fee for out-of-state toxic brine brought to Ohio from several other states.
Dennis Bujak, trustee, reminded citizens that in 2004, local control was preempted by state government.
“So we need to be creative,” said Fejes. “We don’t have to accept disaster capitalism, where companies wait until a municipality or township is so strapped it has to accept anything, no matter how damaging.”
“The best government is local,” George Sosebee of Shalersville commented. “We need local decision making for local problems.”
The resolution will be considered by the trustees in the next two week period. Dozens of other communities around Ohio will also be taking the same resolution to their trustees, city council members, and village representatives throughout September.
“We need to let officials in Columbus know we are not happy with their laws and their decisions,” stated Mary Greer of Concerned Citizens Ohio/Shalersville. “And this document is a democratic document.
It can be amended to reflect the views of those who sign it. That’s the way a real democracy works.”
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.