NEW PHILADELPHIA — About 50 people gathered in front of the Tuscarawas County Courthouse on Saturday morning to protest possible sales of water by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District to oil and gas companies for fracking purposes.
The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District Court met from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the courthouse. Protesters anticipated action regarding the sales of millions of gallons of fresh water from lakes and other sources in the district. However, only discussion of the topic was listed on the agenda, and no vote was taken to authorize any sales.
Displaying posters and large banners, or performing their own protest songs, the residents from several of the 18 counties that form the MWCD gathered to protest the sale of water to be used for fracking wells.
Hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, is a way that natural gas is extracted from deep shale formations. After a well is drilled, water, sand and chemicals are injected by high pressure into the well. That fractures the shale, releasing the natural gas and other products from the fissures.
Protesters also are upset about Ohio’s new energy law, which allows companies to keep secret the chemicals used as they are considered proprietary information.
County Common Pleas Court judges from each of the 18 counties in the MWCD form the Conservancy Court. Eleven attended the session, including Judges Edward O’Farrell of Tuscarawas County, John Campbell of Carroll County, and Michael Nunner of Harrison County.
They heard a review of the laws regarding the sale of fresh water, presented by MWCD chief legal counsel James Pringle. He spoke about the two types of sales allowed — short-term and long-term. No terms have been established for any sales.
An overview of the oil and gas industry regarding Ohio was presented by Dr. Robert Chase of Marietta, who is widely respected for his knowledge regarding the industry.
The Conservancy Courts did decide Saturday to create the structure for conducting water sales, if sales are authorized. Three judges would be appointed to a panel to conduct hearings, listen to testimony and make recommendations to the full Conservancy Court.
A timeframe for appointing the panel hasn’t been determined, said Darrin Lautenschleger, MWCD public relations director.Read the rest of the article here.
The Akron Beacon Journal also took a look at the opposition to allowing water to be used for fracking:
Lea Harper of Senecaville is on the warpath.
The southeast Ohio resident is upset that the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, which collects surface water from Akron’s south side all the way to Marietta on the Ohio River, is selling water from one of its reservoirs to Gulfport Energy Corp. for natural gas drilling.
That water from Clendening Reservoir in Harrison County could be just the beginning of a huge drain on Ohio’s water resources, she said. Hundreds of billions of gallons are at stake, not only because of its immediate effect on lakes and rivers, but also perhaps a permanent effect on water supplies.
Chesapeake Energy Corp., for example, the most active driller in the state, is interested in the watershed’s Leesville Reservoir about 20 miles south of Canton.
Paul Feezel of Carroll Concerned Citizens, a grass-roots group in Carroll County where drilling is heaviest, estimates that the water needed to supply Ohio’s annual drilling needs could drain two thirds of Leesville Reservoir annually.
In all, the conservancy district has requests for water from a dozen drilling companies that are eager to tap six reservoirs in eastern Ohio: Clendening, Leesville and Tappan Lake in Harrison County; Atwood Lake in Carroll and Tuscarawas counties; Piedmont Lake in Belmont and Harrison counties and Seneca Lake in Noble and Guernsey counties.
But the conservancy is not the only source: Drillers are buying water from communities, private pond owners, water districts and private water companies, as well as pulling free water from Ohio streams.
“I’m just flabbergasted and appalled that Ohioans are willing to see their water future disappear,” said Harper, who heads the Southeast Ohio Alliance to Save Our Water, a grass-roots group.
Read the rest of that article here.
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