The anti-fracking movement is coming to Kent, a municipality not currently home to any controversial hydraulic fracturing wells. But there’s nothing stopping anyone from establishing them within city limits.
That’s why Shalersville resident Mary Greer, representing one of several anti-fracking groups now operating in Portage County, is trying to raise awareness through a march, rally and town meeting in February.
A “March Against Fracking” will start at 11 a.m. Feb. 11 at . Attendees, led by musicians, will march to the rock at ’s historic front campus, then back to The Kent Stage. A rally will be held either inside the theater or at , weather-depending. The speakers will be Dr. Ted Voneida and Jaimie Frederick.
An anti-fracking Town Meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17 in VanMeter Hall at , featuring speakers Vanessa Pesec and Ron Prosek.
Greer said the meeting’s purpose is to “discuss the problems related to fracking and what action residents can take. We want all of Kent to come and hear what they can do, because every voice is going to count in this fight.”
The anti-fracking movement has been picking up steam, with opponents voicing the most concern over the possible contamination of public drinking water. In response to those concerns, among others, the United States Environmental Protection Agency launched an in-depth study of the issue in November.
“We’re at a watershed moment in history,” Greer said. “We can hang back and do the old things and pay the price, or we can step forward and insist on our rights to clean water, clean air, clean land and really insist on new energies.”
Greer is bringing the fight to Kent because she and her husband, George Sosebee, are both former city residents who intend to move back. Greer still has family living in Kent, and it’s where she spends most all of her free time.
“We rely on Kent’s health and welfare, even though we’re not registered voters there. It is our emotional, psychological, social, cultural and economic anchor,” she explained.
Greer also recognizes there is a large eco-conscious population in Kent.
“I feel that Kent could be the model for all the towns around to say, ‘It’s time to think about sustainable, renewable energy and to stop squeezing the last drop of fossil fuel out of our land at such a high cost of negative consequences,” she explained.
“Why have we not asked our oil and gas industries to come and help us start research institutes to develop new ways to find energy or to apply new energy technologies that we already have? We don’t need to just say ‘no’ to fracking. We can say ‘yes’ to so many new technologies,” she added.
Greer said a well head can be established on property as small as two acres. Also, wherever there is land that can be pooled with other land, leasing is possible. There are at least four fracking wells in Portage county.
Fracking opponents are also concerned about the creation of injection wells, which are depositories for flowback wastewater from fracked wells.
“Pennsylvania has made the disposal of that toxic water illegal in their state, so Ohio is accepting it instead,” Greer explained. “Injection wells are springing up everywhere. Currently there are at least four injection wells in Portage County being used to dump fracking fluid wastewater.”
A meeting hosted by Faith Communities Together in early January at the attracted about 60 fracking opponents representing numerous grassroots organizations. Greer said all in attendance said they planned to attend the march and rally on Feb. 11 in Kent and will try to attract national media attention.
“There are four or five citizen groups in the area and all are working together. We’re all on the same email lists, we go to each other’s meetings and provide each other with documents and research,” Greer explained. “It’s going to take all of us to create change.”