By Randi Pokladnik
As of May 30, oil and gas companies can “nominate” land parcels within citizen-owned state parks and forests to obtain fracking leases. Parcel leases need approval from the four-member Oil and Gas Land Management Commission, a group that lacks any scientific expertise.
Currently, 10 parcels have been “nominated” to be fracked. They include almost the entirety (302 acres) of Valley Run Wildlife Area in Carroll County, a 66-acre parcel in Zepernick Wildlife Area in Columbiana County, 281 parcels that total over 9,000 acres in Salt Fork State Park and the entirety of Wolf Run State Park (approximately 2,000 acres) in Noble County.
Thousands of peer-reviewed studies show fracking activities cause water and air pollution, release climate-changing methane gases, increase dangerous traffic accidents, require millions of gallons of fresh water, create millions of gallons of toxic-produced water, and contribute to a plethora of human illnesses including endocrine disruption and cancer.
Ignoring the scientific studies, Ohio politicians would rather generate money for the state by relinquishing our precious wildlife, forests and streams to an industry that is the main contributor to climate change.
Fracking requires land for well pads, access roads, storage areas for water, chemicals, sand, wastewater, compressor stations and collector pipelines. Forest fragmentation results in an increase in predation and invasive species as well as a loss of species, especially neotropical migrant birds, which prefer a continuous forest canopy.
Noise from fracking interferes with communication of species like bats and birds. Light pollution from flaring affects migratory birds and nocturnal animals. Open wastewater ponds become death traps for water birds, turtles, frogs, muskrats and other animals. Brine spills from frack pads enter the environment and can kill birds, plants and soil microbes.
In addition, studies show stream water quality, sediment and dissolved oxygen are affected when water is withdrawn in significant quantities. The closer well pads, roads and pipelines are built to streams, the higher the risk of water quality degradation, both in the stream itself and downstream.
Ohio’s public lands have played a major role in the lives of many of Ohio’s citizens and out-of-state visitors. The state parks and forests are our playgrounds, our places of solace, our outdoor learning labs, and they belong to us. We must speak up for the wildlife and the forests; they cannot defend themselves against the heinous industrial development that will soon be invading our public lands and their homes.
Comments to the commission on the nominated parcels can be submitted until July 20. Information is on the webpage, www.saveohioparks.org. Write your comments about why you think a parcel (include parcel number) should not be fracked and send the email to Commission.Clerk@oglmc.ohio.gov.
The wildlife at Salt Fork State Park, Zepernick Wildlife Area, Valley Run Wildlife Area and Wolf Run are counting on you to comment by July 20.
You also can show support for Salt Fork by attending a rally there at pavilion one on July 1.
Dr. Randi Pokladnik was born and raised in Ohio. She earned an associate degree in Environmental Engineering, a BA in Chemistry, MA and PhD in Environmental Studies. She is certified in hazardous materials regulations and holds a teaching license in science and math. She worked as a research chemist for National Steel Corporation for 12 years and taught secondary and post-secondary science and math classes for more than 20 years. Her research includes an analysis of organic farming regulations and environmental issues impacting the Appalachian region of Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. She lives near Tappan Lake in an eco- log home that she and her husband built in 2001. Her hobbies include running, gardening, sewing and doing fun things with her granddaughters.
Image: Exxon frack pad, Captina, Ohio, by Ted Auch / FracTracker Alliance.
This letter to the editor was originally published in The Bargain Hunter on June 22, 2023.