Fracking Opponents Urge City Council to Act
Concerned Citizens Ohio makes recommendations for anti-fracking laws
Kent residents opposed to fracking within city limits returned to Kent City Council seeking action on laws prohibiting oil and gas drilling in the Tree City.
Members of the group Concerned Citizens of Ohio offered members of council a plethora of examples of Ohio communities that had taken action to regulate or all-out ban hydraulic fracturing within their towns.
The group has made several visits to council meetings in the past 12 months to offer information and urge action on the controversial method of fracking for natural gas and oil wells.
Paulette Thurman said the group wanted to expand possible solutions made by the city's sustainability commission, which has reviewed the issue and already made several recommendations to council.
"Our purpose is to broaden the range of solutions for potential problems from urban drilling," Thurman said.
Thurman and other members talked about communities that have passed moratoriums on fracking while the issue is studied, created laws banning drilling on public land and established regulations to protect infrastructure from damage associated to fracking operations.
"Councils have used zoning as a method of protection for roads, infrastructure under roads, and to regulate the transport and disposal of hazardous and toxic fluids," Kent resident Iris Meltzer said.
She pointed out several Ohio communities that banned fracking on village and township properties, including nearby Hartville Township.
Kent resident David Badagnani said the group doesn't just want to ban fracking locally.
"Some actions are based on protecting Kent in the event that urban drilling cannot be avoided," he said.
If Kent doesn't ban fracking, some of the suggestions Badagnani made included:
- Passing a law requiring drilling corporations to pay for ongoing water testing
- Request drillers post cash insurance bonds for surface road use and for infrastructure damage such as water line or sewer line cracks related to fracking operations
- Request drillers pay for damages to all individually owned properties regarding foundation cracks, fires, and other damage related to nearby fracking operations
- Seek agreements from transport and trucking companies to remain off city/state roads during school start and release hours
Others suggested the city partner with Franklin Township to protect the area's watersheds.
"Deny to corporations all use of surface and groundwater in Kent and Franklin Township," Jim Voneida said.
He also encouraged members of council and the city administration to tour communities in Pennsylvania and Ohio where fracking operations have had negative effects on the environment.
Erin LaBelle suggested the city create fines for firms that violate regulations related to drilling.
"Let us not assume the oil and gas industry will avoid urban drilling in the city of Kent," she said. "Instead, assume Kent will be as accessible to drillers as any other Ohio community."
Council took no action on the issue after hearing from the group Wednesday.
Ward 5 Councilwoman Heidi Shaffer, after many had left the meeting, commended the group for their research.
"Preventive health is much preferred to trying to reverse serious disease," Shaffer said. "I think it’s really important to look at these recommendations."