By Mary Huck
LAKEWOOD, Ohio — I was raised in the ‘50s and early ‘60s on a mid-sized Ohio dairy farm with woods, ravines, a cliff and a creek to roam in. I saw snakes shedding their skins, two-inch-long grasshoppers, red fox, quail and plate-sized turtles. My mother would tell me we lived in a park-like setting.
What’s left of much of Ohio’s nature and wildlife today is at risk of being lost for millennia with the passage of H.B. 507 that will trigger a stampeded by fossil fuel companies to frack our state parks and public lands.
According to the U.S. EPA, fracking is the largest industrial source of methane and smog-forming volatile organic compounds. There are few federal or state regulations on methane leaks or flaring (intentional burning of methane.) The 2022 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there is evidence the oil and gas industry’s methane emissions well exceed 3%, which means methane from fracking may have a greater long-term climate-warming impact than coal.
Methane, whether it is flared intentionally or leaked accidentally, is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere.
Fracking pollutes the water, too.
From 1.5 million to up to 16 million gallons of water are used for a single fracking well. Water for fracking is diverted from stream flow, water supplies from municipalities and industries, such as power generation, as well as recreation and aquatic life. Toxic chemicals used as fracking additives in the United States are proven human carcinogens, and while they are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act for their risks to human health, oil and gas companies aren’t required by federal regulations to divulge the recipes for their “secret sauces.”
Wastewater from fracking can become flowback, then recovered as production brine. (Ohio recently pledged to stop buying a form of this called Aqua Salina, used to melt highway ice, due to its radioactive content.) Many wastewater chemicals are linked to increased cancers, asthma, low thyroid, low birth weights and early death for the elderly and young.
If we don’t stop fracking in our parks and public lands, will we ever feel safe showering at state parks or drinking from park water fountains again?
Low-level earthquakes of increasing frequency are caused by the disposal of fracking wastewater into injection wells, too. The U.S. Geological Society also says that there are no guarantees larger quakes will not occur in the future.
Just last month, there was a low-level earthquake at Walbridge, near Toledo. Luckily, no damage was reported — this time.
If we love our health, our children and grandchildren, nature and our parks, we must protect them from fracking. We must stand up to a legislature that gave us the $60 million dollar HB 6 energy corruption scandal.
It is we, the people, who must determine the climate policy of the future. We’ve worked collectively before: on WWII victory gardens; stopping the war in Vietnam; and protecting the ozone layer. We can stop fracking in our Ohio state parks if enough people take action today. Join the Save Ohio Parks grassroots movement. Visit bit.ly/saveohioparks.
If you wish to protect our precious, taxpayer-supported state parks and public lands, stand up on Save Our Parks Saturdays between 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at any state park entrance sign or inside the park as you hike, hunt, fish, bird, bike, picnic or swim.
You can stand for 15 min., 30 min. or an hour or more before, during or after your park visit.
Create signs that communicate your feelings about fracking. Take a photo of your party engaging in that activity and share it with friends, family and on social media.
Mary Huck is spearheading efforts to make her Valley City, Ohio, farm homestead’s woods into a park. She writes from Lakewood.
This opinion piece was originally published in cleveland.com on June 24, 2023. Image credit: Gus Chan / Cleveland Plain Dealer