By Julie Carr Smyth

Associated Press

COLUMBUS: A coalition of Ohio environmental and community groups is asking a federal watchdog office to investigate alleged legal violations by the state’s injection-well approval program.

In a 15-page letter Wednesday to the U.S. EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, the coalition coordinated by the Center for Health, Environment & Justice alleges that Ohio’s injection-well program disproportionately impacts Ohio’s low-income Appalachian areas and has failed to meet a federal directive assuring those communities specific safeguards.

Injection wells pump wastewater from oil-and-gas drilling deep inside the earth. Some such wells in Ohio have been linked to earthquakes.

The groups say the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is a “captive regulator” controlled by drilling interests, and they charge that affected areas receive “comically inadequate” opportunities for public participation.

The department had no immediate comment.