Tag Archives: Haliburton Loophole

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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Economic Benefits and Risks of Fracking

Presentation given at the Watershed Summit in Athens, Ohio, on September 7, 2013


By Bernhard Debatin

When oil and gas industry, lobbyists, or politicians talk about fracking, they usually show us an economic wonderland. Fracking, we hear, does not only solve our energy problems, it also creates an economic boom of unheard of dimensions. And we hear it is clean, easy to recover, and has almost no negative side effects.

New technologies in oil and natural gas drilling do indeed make possible to extract huge amounts of non-conventional oil and gas from shale formations at a profitable rate, which is why fracking is celebrated as a “game changer” for the U.S. energy supply and the economic revival. Large areas in the U.S. have become the location of an ever-accelerating fracking boom. In addition to the Marcellus Formation, which covers most Appalachian states, such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York, fracking is also taking place at a large scale in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, North Dakota, Montana, Texas, and recently California. Continue reading

Kudos to City Council for taking steps against local oil and gas development

By Alyssa Bernstein*

Athens City Council should be applauded for making efforts to protect the Athens wellhead zone (the area of the aquifer supplying our water) from possible contamination due to industrial activities such as unconventional fracking, especially given that no other governmental agency seems to be making such efforts. Continue reading

Questionable Fracking Leases in Athens County?

By Heather Cantino
(Board Chair, Buckeye Forest Council, and 30-year Athens County resident)

As the fracking boom is coming to Athens county, many landowners are wondering if it is advisable to lease their mineral rights to Cunningham Energy from Charleston, W.Va.,  for hydraulic fracturing. On Tuesday evening (Nov. 29), local attorney John Lavelle, who has already signed a lease with Cunningham Energy for his property in Waterloo and Lee Township, organized a meeting for landowners at the Athens County fairgrounds, where he presented a draft of a supposedly “landowner friendly” lease that landowners can use for a legal fee of $50 per acre if they wish to sell their mineral rights and use of land to  Cunningham Energy.

However, many Athens County residents are expressing concerns with the lease presented by Lavelle. The lease fails to address a number of crucial issues and holes in Ohio oil and gas regulations (see Ohio regulation and rule deficiencies). It also covers only a small amount of the conditions and clauses spelled out in the sample draft lease put forward by the Harvard Law School, known as An Ohio Landowner’s Guide to Hydraulic Fracturing. The Havard lease draft is considered a minimum standard for leasing mineral rights.

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Here’s why Ohio needs a moratorium on fracking

This is a slightly revised version of a piece that was originally published in the Reader’s Forum of the Athens News on Nov. 23, 2011.  

By Bernhard Debatin

In his column on fracking (Nov. 17), Athens NEWS Editor Terry Smith admits that he sits on the fence regarding this issue, partly out of contrariness and to provide balance in a debate that he perceives as lopsided. However, when the facts are not speaking for balance, then there’s no point in presenting a topic in a “balanced” way. Here are some facts that should inform the debate:

It is well known (and not even seriously disputed by the industry) that hydro-fracturing has a massive impact on the environment. A preliminary report from the Shale Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board of Aug. 11, 2011, identifies four major areas of concern: Continue reading