From the geauga County Maple Leaf
APRIL 8, 2021 BY DIANE RYDER
Although the proposed oil and gas fracture drilling contract between a local drilling company and the City of Akron appears to be on hold for now, Protect Geauga Parks released a webinar March 22 that describes the potential environmental impact fracking can cause and urged residents to keep pressure on Akron City Council to kill the proposal permanently.
“Much Ladue about Fracking” featured Youngstown State University journalism professor Shelley Blundell and recent YSU journalism graduate Alyssa Lutker, who described the possible long-term environmental impact fracking can have on an ecosystem such as that at Ladue Reservoir, an Akron-owned man-made lake that straddles Troy and Auburn townships in southern Geauga County and northern Portage County.
In January, Akron City Council considered forming a drilling contract with DP Energy Auburn LLC — a newly-formed company partially owned by Akron attorney and former City Councilman Patrick D’Andrea — for horizontal drilling beneath 475 acres, at $500 per acre, or a total of $237,500, plus 15 percent of royalties.
The proposal met with some support, but also with loud protests from environmentalists, citizens’ groups such as Protect Geauga Parks and individual residents who questioned the amount of income, the possible environmental damage to the water and wildlife around the reservoir and the possibility Akron could lose its tax exempt status on that portion of the property if it receives income from leases.
City council has since placed the issue back in committee, essentially bringing a halt to the proposal for now.
During the online webinar, Blundell gave a history of Akron’s water problems since the late 19th century, when the Ohio Legislature gave the city the right to obtain water from three rivers — the Tuscarawas, the Big Cuyahoga and the Little Cuyahoga.
All three watersheds are connected by tributaries and most are near each other in Northeast Ohio, which also has an abundance of oil and gas wells in the vicinity of the reservoir — especially Ladue, Blundell said, showing a map full of dots indicating the location of the wells.
“In Geauga, this has kind of exploded,” she said. “There are many, many oil and gas wells in Geauga County at present.”
She added most Geauga County homes rely on water wells as their source of drinking water.
Blundell said Akron needed money to fund COVID-related federal and state mandates, including $1.4 billion needed to overhaul its sewer system.
“Using fracking funds for this is an incredibly risky gamble,” she said.
Lutker listed the possible ways fracking can cause permanent damage to fragile ecosystems, including water and air contamination, diesel pollution, increases in ground level ozone and methane gas, contamination from injection wells, dwindling habitat for wildlife, lower milk production and livestock contamination, and fracking-related earthquakes.
Those factors can lead to cancer, pregnancy complications, increase in global warming, decreases in home values and increases in health care costs, she added.
“From March 4 through 12, 2014, 77 earthquakes measuring 1.0 to 3.0 were recorded in Mahoning County due to the fracking there,” Lutker said.
“There are a few things you can do,” Blundell added, listing learning the facts on both sides of the fracking issue, staying informed through local media, getting connected with local government, “speaking up and speaking out,” following the discussion by Akron City Council members, and exercising the First Amendment right to question what is being done.
She recommended following Akron City Council online at www.akroncitycouncil.org.