JACKSON TWP.: Anti-fracking activist Sandra Steingraber came to Stark County on Wednesday looking for converts.
She ended up preaching largely to the choir.
An enthusiastic crowd of 260 filled Main Hall on the Kent State University Stark Campus to hear Steingraber, a New York-based environmental health advocate who has become one of the most prominent and vocal critics of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in drilling for natural gas.
Fracking is “a homicidal abomination” that needs to be banned, said Steingraber, who has been called the new Rachel Carson, a reference to the conservationist best known for her work fighting against the use of pesticides, especially DDT.
Fracking is simply “turning the Earth inside out. It’s shock and destroy,” she told the audience. It would be better to stop all fracking until there are assurances it can be done safely, she said.
“We don’t have an extra planet,” she said.
Steingraber is a visiting biology professor at Ithaca College, a mother of two, poet and cancer survivor. She has been hailed as a Woman of the Year by Ms. magazine and won a prestigious $100,000 Heinz Award in 2011. She is using her winnings to fight fracking in New York state.
She is the author of Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment and Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis.
According to Steingraber, fracking is the environmental issue of our times. It is also the major human rights issue of the day with major consequences for humanity, she said.
Steingraber told the audience the industry’s efforts to mitigate the fracking process is not an answer because steel and concrete won’t last forever. What’s being built are time bombs with longer fuses that will threaten our grandchildren, she said.
She said she was especially troubled that each well uses more than 5 million gallons of water that will be poisoned with toxic chemicals and can never be used again. That will aggravate water-supply problems in the future, when global warming will be having its impacts.
Fracking will produce significant air pollution, creating ozone that will cause asthma problems for many, she said.
Ohio could receive hundreds of millions of gallons of fracking liquids from New York, if that state decides to proceed with drilling.
New York envisions 62,000 wells. It does not have the geology for injection wells like Ohio with its 177 injection wells to dispose of fracking waste liquids, she said.
Ohio probably will get all that fracking liquid from New York, and it would equal the flow of Niagara Falls — at 500,000 gallons a second — for 35 hours, she said.
She encouraged Ohioans to fight against drilling.
“There are ways to stop it. It may feel that there’s a certain inevitability about it. But don’t feel helpless,” she said.
Fracking, she said, is like the Wizard of Oz. It is being directed by “a few men behind a curtain who are amazed that they’re getting away with it.”
Solo Hovis came from Portage County’s Palmyra Township to hear Steingraber. She said she is “very concerned” by the heavy leasing activity and the drilling that is getting started in her county.
“It’s scary,” Hovis, 51, said of fracking. “Don’t turn heaven into hell for money.”
Barberton Ward 6 Councilwoman Carol Frey said she was trying to learn about fracking because she is “just very concerned,” Increased leasing in Copley Township could trigger problems for Barberton’s drinking water, she said.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.