Columbus, Ohio – More than 100 mayors, county commissioners, city councilors, and other local elected officials from communities across Ohio issued a letter to Governor John Kasich today, calling for the local authority to limit and prohibit dangerous fracking operations. The letter’s release follows another setback in court for communities seeking to ban or regulate the dirty drilling practice.
“As local elected officials, we are deeply concerned about the significant and growing threat hydraulic fracturing poses to our health and environment,” reads the letter, organized by the advocacy group Environment Ohio, a member of the Environment America federation. “We urge you to stand up for the right of all communities to determine whether, where, and how this dirty drilling is conducted within their own borders.”
Many of fracking’s impacts-- from air and water pollution to earthquakes and ruined roads-- are borne most heavily at the local level, prompting communities in Ohio and across the country to pass measures to regulate or ban the practice.
“When the gas drillers see Ohio in their rear view mirror, we’ll want to know that we did everything we could to protect our communities from their harms,” said James O’Reilly, Wyoming City Council Member and University of Cincinnati Professor of Law and Public Health.
In response to more than 100 local efforts to ban or regulate fracking nationwide, the oil and gas industry has paired up with state officials in many cases to strike back.
In Ohio, a 2004 state law handed exclusive authority to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to regulate and permit oil and gas wells. Since then, in court cases all the way up to the Ohio Supreme Court judges have used the law to strike down local measures that block or restrict oil and gas drilling.
In May Texas adopted a law barring local regulations of fracking, invalidating measures in Denton and other Texas communities. Oklahoma soon followed suit.
The battle over who regulates fracking comes as the scientific evidence against the drilling technique continues to mount. An analysis of recent peer-reviewed studies determined that 72 percent of them showed “indication of potential, positive association, or actual incidence of water contamination.”
The best way for Ohio to protect public health from fracking is to follow the lead of states like Maryland and New York and put a stop to the dirty drilling practice altogether, Environment America said today. Until then, city and county governments should have the chance to protect their citizens from harm, said the group.
“Local communities deserve clean water and clean air, so they deserve local control of fracking," said Sarah Frost, outreach director with Environment America.
Environment America is the national federation of statewide, citizen-based advocacy organizations working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.