The Ethics of Fracking

By Bernhard Debatin

As controversial as it is, fracking is not often discussed in terms of its ethics. The 37 minute-long video The Ethics of Fracking, by the Scott Cannon and the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, provides a good discussion of the various ethical issues of fracking. It shows that fracking leads to a number of ethical problems and serious side-effects, ranging from the contamination of drinking water, to air and noise pollution, to increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and to disrupting communities and creating long-term risks and costs for our society.

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ODNR Injection Well Permit Appealed

Formal Complaint to USEPA Filed

By ACFAN

The Athens County Fracking Action Network (ACFAN) has filed a legal appeal of the K&H 2 injection well permit issued last month by Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Oil and Gas. The well would be the second on the property owned by K&H Partners of West Virginia, in Troy Township, Athens County, and would dispose of 168,000 gallons or more of frack waste per day. The appeal is the first of an ODNR injection well permit filed in over twenty years. Continue reading

New Version of the Athens Community Bill of Rights and Water Supply Protection Ordinance

The Athens Bill of Rights Committee proposes new Ordinance regarding the protection of our water supply, specifically with regard to the effects of fracking and of the disposal of fracking wastewater in the city limits.

Below is (1) the official Summary. Please note that the new Ordinance avoids mention of any 20-mile buffer zone and hence is innocent of “legislative overreach” which seemed to have pulled down the last attempt.

Following is (2) the text of the ordinance, which you can also download as PDF Document “Petition for Ordinance Athens 5-14 Final” for your convenience. Continue reading

The Fracking Boom: Hundred Years of (Self-)Deception

By Bob Sheak

President Obama has echoed the oil and gas industry’s claim that the U.S. has a 100-year supply of natural gas, mostly from shale formations. And these claims will make the U.S. energy independent, a new Saudi Arabia. This claim has been challenged by Richard Heinberg, J. David Hughes, and others, at the website The Post Carbon Institute and sites like shalebubble.org. Continue reading

Who Poisons Whom With Chemicals?

By Bernhard Debatin

The Boston bombing and other such horrible events have shown that preparedness for domestic terrorism is a necessity. Therefore, one might think it wouldn’t be that bad if “Area officials undergo training to combat terroristic events,” as the Athens Messenger titled on December 11, 2013.

However, the choice of the simulated event, “a fake anti-fracking extremist group that was planning on launching a chemical attack on Ohio University’s Convocation Center” and that was running a “mock bioterrorism lab,” shows a cynical lack of judgment by the involved authorities. Such thoughtless scenario vilifies the anti-fracking movement as a whole and identifies it casually with terrorism, while it is in fact a non-violent and broad coalition of concerned citizens. Continue reading

The Earthquake and the Dangers of Injection Wells – Part 2: The Inherent Dangers of Injection Wells

By Bernhard Debatin

In Part 1, we have seen that the knowledge about the seismic makeup of Athens County is rather limited and that the recent earthquake should be a wakeup call for citizens and regulators. Indeed, data from all over the country indicate that wastewater injection can induce earthquakes, including a recent 5.7 magnitude earthquake near Prague, Oklahoma, on November 5, 2011.

Similar to the supposedly dead Starr Fault in Athens Counts, the Oklahoma earthquake originated from the Wilzetta Fault that was believed to be dead, too. The recent accumulation of earthquakes in previously seismically inactive zones have worried scientists:  “These so-called ‘earthquake swarms’ are occurring in other places where the ground is not supposed to move. There have been abrupt upticks in both the size and frequency of quakes in Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, and Texas. Scientists investigating these anomalies are coming to the same conclusion: The quakes are linked to injection wells.” Continue reading

The Earthquake and the Dangers of Injection Wells – Part 1: Geological Uncertainties

By Bernhard Debatin

Note: This is an extended version of an article that was published in the Athens News (online on Nov. 27, 2013)

In a moment of unparalleled irony, an earthquake struck Athens County southeast of Nelsonville on November 20, just a day after citizen of the area gathered at the Athens Community Center to voice their concerns about injection wells in Athens County. While the earthquake should give reason to pause, ODNR spokesperson Mike Bruce was quick to assert that this was “a natural earthquake” and that “there’s no way this was man-made.” (Athens News, November 25, 2013). The Youngstown shockwaves can still be felt in this attempt to separate this seismic event from the injection of large amounts of toxic fracking fluids into the underground. Continue reading