Kasich plans fracking for Ohio despite controversy, says tapping shale will create jobs

By Lucas Bechtol, CG News

Ohio Gov. John Kasich. File photo.

In an effort to boost the state’s lagging economy, new Ohio Gov. John Kasich is considering allowing a gas drilling technique that some citizens say contaminated drinking water in western Pennsylvania.

This technique, called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” will take place in the Marcellus Shale Formation, which runs underneath parts of Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York. The shale could contain as much as 363 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

When fracking, miners drill a vertical well into a shale formation and drill sideways at the bottom. They then inject up to 4 million gallons of water, sand and chemicals into the L-shaped well to fracture the shale. The fracturing releases natural gas deposits locked in the formation.

When the fracking is done, between 15 and 20 percent of the water, called flowback or wastewater, is forced to the surface. Along the way, it picks up minerals such as barium and sulfur as well as suspended solids and soluble salts. Flowback may also contain small amounts of radium, a radioactive element.

Three options exist for dealing with the wastewater. It can be reused in other fracking operations, stored in injection control wells or sent through a wastewater treatment facility, said Mike Settles, spokesperson for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

An article published on June 21, 2010 in Vanity Fair titled “A Colossal Fracking Mess” related the alleged devastation that hydraulic fracturing had in Dimock, Pennsylvania. According to the article, the water for many citizens of the town began turning brown and making them sick due to a leak in the fracking fluid supply pipes.

An April 26, 2009 article from ProPublica told the story of a Cleveland, Ohio house that exploded because of hydraulic fracturing. An Ohio Department of Natural Resources study found that fracking had pushed methane into an aquifer, which caused the explosion. A Jan. 5 ProPublica article stated that waterways near fracking sites contained high levels of a carcinogen that could form from combining chlorine used in drinking water treatment plants and the bromide found in fracking wastewater.

Kasich has defended fracking as a source of revenue and jobs. He has said drilling in the Marcellus Shale will be a “Godsend” for Ohio. The governor’s office did not return repeated emails and phone calls for comment.

The Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club is against hydraulic fracturing and is concerned with Kasich’s plans, said Matt Trokan, Ohio chapter conservation coordinator.

“It doesn’t seem like he sees the value in our natural resources,” Trokan said.

The Ohio Sierra Club is pursuing legal avenues. One legal strategy is aimed at protecting someone’s water from contamination if his or her neighbors allow fracking on their property, Trokan said.

However, scientists with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources disagree with activist groups. ODNR Geologist Tom Tomastik said hydraulic fracturing is not the cause of problems in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania problems are due to oil wells dug about 100 years ago that were not plugged properly. The issues might also result from residents not cleaning or maintaining their wells and then blaming their water problems on fracking, Tomastik said.

“There are regulations in place to ensure the protection of the environment,” he said.

Any water that doesn’t return to the surface seeps into the pours of the Marcellus Shale Formation, which is 5,000 to 6,000 feet underground. The water is “basically trapped in there permanently,” Tomastik said.

Even though fracking has not begun in Ohio, the state is storing wastewater from fracking projects in other states.

The Ohio EPA recently authorized the Warren Pollution Control Center in Warren, Ohio to accept up to 100,000 gallons of low-salinity fracking wastewater and discharge it into the Mahoning River, Settles said.

“We consider low-salinity 50,000 parts per million of total dissolved solids [salts],” he said. “Some of the wastewater is higher [salinity]. We won’t allow that in Warren.”

The wastewater will first stop at Patriot Water Treatment’s centralized waste treatment facility for a metals removal process. It will then proceed to the Warren facility where it will be mixed with other wastewater before entering the Mahoning River, according to an EPA news release.

The Mahoning River should not be harmed because of limitations on how much wastewater can be put into the river, Settles said. Nevertheless, additional monitoring will be done.

“We want to see if there’s any adverse affects of allowing this,” Settles said. “We’re going to be watching it closely.”

Tomastik said Ohio’s strict regulations for injection wells, which are more stringent than the U.S. EPA’s, protect the environment from any threat for that method of disposal.

Kasich plans on meeting with Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. to discuss the possibilities of drilling in Ohio’s shale deposits.

17 Comments

on “Kasich plans fracking for Ohio despite controversy, says tapping shale will create jobs
17 Comments on “Kasich plans fracking for Ohio despite controversy, says tapping shale will create jobs
  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Kasich plans fracking for Ohio despite controversy, says tapping shale will create jobs | College Green Magazine – Eco-news From The Ground Up -- Topsy.com

  2. Dear Mr. Bechtol,

    Very well-written article. Thank you for your research and thoughtful presentation of these ideas. This is a grave issue and one that deserves attention. I appreciate your work here.

    Kind regards,

    Ms. Noon

  3. That was a very well written article. I never heard of ‘fracking’ before but you explained it in such easy to understand terms that I feel I have a firm grasp of the concept and it’s problems. Thank you for bringing it to the public’s attention.

  4. Very well written article. Well researched. Balanced. I guess Mr. Kasich can’t be bothered to answer any questions about a potentially dangerous method of extracting natural gas. Or the fact that the USA already has excess gas wells. (as a result of the past two years of massive drilling) Texas has been using this method for several years, and many experts feel it contributed to minor earth quakes around the Dallas area. I personally hope the documentary GASLAND wins an Oscar at the Academy Awards, so that the potential harm from this type of drilling/mining will perhaps educate others.

  5. Pingback: What The Frack: Ohio Gov. John Kasich Wants To Open Up State Parks For Oil And Gas Exploration | Video Formats & Conversion

  6. Pingback: ThinkProgress » REPORT: Seven States Where Republicans Are Ruining The Environment

  7. Pingback: REPORT: Seven States Where Republicans Are Ruining The Environment | Video Formats & Conversion

  8. Pingback: REPORT: Seven states where Republicans are ruining the environment | Sinting Link

  9. My question is, Has anyone lived anywhere near or drove by an oil well??? Probably not!!! I have. In my travels in Texas I got a real good whiff of the oil wells there.. It wasn’t good at all. And now you want to get into Fracking??? Isn’t just the thought of the known issues with fracking scary enough to look at other options in getting Ohio back on her feet again.. The bottom line is, Keep your distruction of fracking out of our state, period!!! Invest in solar, wind power, recyling of all the plastics & turning garbage into fuels to power our power plants.. Now!!!
    And while I have your attention, Hey John Kasich, where’s the money you pushed Ohio to invest in Lehman Brothers at??? I guess we will never see that money ever again!!! Again if Kasich is for something like investing in anything we should all look out!!! The smart thinkers of Ohio are truely scared of this guy and he should be stopped before he does anymore harm in anyway or means, Now!!!

    Thank you,
    Concerned Ohioian

  10. So we sacrifice our health and our planet some more for that old mighty dollar. I do not want fracking in my state. Perhaps this mr kasich should focus on protecting and cleaning up our enviroment instead of trying to destroy it. Fracking causes more issues than what they are letting the public know. Eventually it will all come out and then it will be to late. Sad. And people wonder why so many have cancer.

  11. Pingback: Paul Breer – What The Frack: Ohio Gov. John Kasich Wants To Open Up State Parks For Oil And Gas Exploration

  12. We request that the letter to Michelle Obama published in the New York Times on May 12, 2012, be republished in Ohio newspaper to let the public know that our national organization supports the action taking place in Columbus, Ohio at the State Capital on June 17th, 2012 sponsored by Climate Activist Bill McGibben and Josh Fox, creator of the award winning documentary film, GASLAND.

    I am the Founder of The Mothers Project™, Inc., website located at: htttp://themothersproject.org, a national/global network of mothers supporting sustainable energy for the future of America.

    We urge Mrs. Obama to take notice that the health of our nation’s children is at risk, as is the health all future generations if an unmonitored industry is allowed to continue to use the untested invasive and contaminating process known as hyrdraulic fracturing in its mining for methane, commonly known as natural gas.

    The Mother’s Day Letter to Michelle Obama sites major studies that are alarming and support an argument that the “precautionary principal” be invoked. We advise Mrs. Obama to take notice that in her effort to protect our children’s health, natural gas mining from hyrdraulic fracturing has grave consequences for the health and stability of children and families.

    javascript:void(0) Angela Monti Fox, M.S., LCSW

    Phone: 646 519 1076

    GASLAND II, COMING THIS SUMMER!

    http://www.mothersforsustainableenergy.com

    Facebook: Mothers for Sustainable Energy

  13. We request that the letter to Michelle Obama published in the New York Times on May 12, 2012, be republished in Ohio newspapers to let the public know that our national organization supports the action taking place in Columbus, Ohio at the State Capital on June 17th, 2012 sponsored by Climate Activist Bill McGibben and Josh Fox, creator of the award winning documentary film, GASLAND.

    I am the Founder of The Mothers Project™, Inc., website located at: htttp://themothersproject.org, a national/global network of mothers supporting sustainable energy for the future of America.

    We urge Mrs. Obama to take notice that the health of our nation’s children is at risk, as is the health all future generations if an unmonitored industry is allowed to continue to use the untested invasive and contaminating process known as hyrdraulic fracturing in its mining for methane, commonly known as natural gas.

    The Mother’s Day Letter to Michelle Obama sites major studies that are alarming and support an argument that the “precautionary principal” be invoked. We advise Mrs. Obama to take notice that in her effort to protect our children’s health, natural gas mining from hyrdraulic fracturing has grave consequences for the health and stability of children and families.

    javascript:void(0) Angela Monti Fox, M.S., LCSW

    Phone: 646 519 1076

    GASLAND II, COMING THIS SUMMER!

    http://www.mothersforsustainableenergy.com

    Facebook: Mothers for Sustainable Energy

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    a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very internet savvy so I’m not 100% positive.
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