Letters to Editor – January 31, 2013
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
A Moral Imperative to Frack?
I couldn' sleep after the Oil and Gas Information meeting last week. Try as I might, the words "moral imperative" kept ringing in my ears. The meeting, sponsored by the Munson Township Trustees and the Geauga County Commissioners, was supposed to be a venue for "neutral speakers to impart unbiased information."
The reason I was so disturbed was because of a statement made by Senator John Eklund about fracking in Ohio (which will exemplify for you exactly how neutral the evening was): "It is clear to me that there is a moral imperative for us to take advantage of this resource God has put under our feet."
Mine wasn't the only jaw that dropped in the audience. Energy independence was the reason, he claimed, it is our moral obligation to frack Geauga County. Nevermind that a significant portion of fracked gas is planned to be exported overseas, where the revenues will benefit foreign economies. Nevermind that focusing on a short-term boom of a non-renewable and dwindling resource only distracts us from true energy independence.
More important is that no reason would justify the risks our community would bear from this form of industrial extraction. We are blessed here in Geauga County with healthy communities and pristine watersheds. Keep in mind that even if everything goes as planned, drilling and fracking a single well consumes millions of gallons of clean water, turning it into millions of gallons of toxic and radioactive waste. Keep in mind that at least two computer models show that toxic fracking fluids can migrate along natural faults and fissures, reaching the water table within a decade. Keep in mind frackings potentially devastating cost on local economies in the form of air, water pollution, declining property values, public health and infrastructure costs.
Don't healthy communities and clean water rank above the morality of extracting natural gas for the global market? Don't the needs of future generations to drink the water and breathe the air come first in the realm of moral imperatives? We must use long term thinking and resist the temptation of a quick fortune at the cost of permanent damage to our community.
Well here we go again with another tax supported proposal for a costly rec center.
Bainbridge Township voted down a $20.6 million rec center by 90 percent of the residents that voted. This new rec center would encompass four government entities in the area.
The following info might enlighten many voters within the four affected areas as well as their taxes.
The Plain Dealer published an article that listed 13 Northeast Ohio rec centers sighting that all were in the red. To date, there are two to three rec centers in the Chagrin area and three to four community education facilities. All being funded either by taxes, membership dues or fees for classes and courses.
We have seven fitness centers, including several private clubs, all doing business and paying property taxes. They are not exempt from property taxes like government is. Add in the 17 summer camps that advertise in the papers and all are within a five to 15 minute drive.
My question to the taxpayers who would be paying for this duplication of services is, "Why do we need more?ï¿½
Bainbridge has many developments with lakes, pools and even a golf course. We have five parks with walking trails; all are open and used by residents in the Chagrin area.
The four private clubs have members from the entire Chagrin Valley area.
Chagrin Falls Village voted down its police bond issue three times and then voted down an income tax increase for roads and sidewalks. Can't you see the handwriting on the wall?
All government entities are faced with the loss of estate tax monies that helped their budgets. Everyone across the nation faces their federal taxes and health care going up; it's hardship everywhere and people are out of work here as well.
In my heart, I can't Justify this short-sighted, self-serving tax proposal. So my statement to this rec center proposal is: "Take your hands out of our pockets because there are more important issues ahead of us all."
Linda W. White
"Local Control" is Democracy
I would like to correct a couple of elements of Ms. Wishart's most recent "Geauga Down Under" article regarding the Munson Township shale gas meeting held at Notre Dame school.
First, the article quotes Sen. Eklund as claiming that "open pits for [storing fracking waste water] have been banned for some time."
The senator's claim is incorrect.
On the other hand, the article quotes ODNR lead inspector Tom Hill as saying that "(open) tanks or pits are used for fresh water, not brine."
On the contrary, Tom Hill correctly stated what Ohio law does indeed permit.
To quote Ohio law:
"Pits may be used for the temporary storage of frac-water and other liquid substances produced from the fracturing process, but upon termination of the fracturing process, pits not otherwise permitted by this rule shall be emptied, the contents disposed of in accordance with law and the pits filled in, unless this requirement is waived or extended."
It is important for our elected officials to know oil and gas law, especially as it potentially impacts the well-being of their constituents. We, the future residents of shale gas extraction areas, have legitimate concerns about this waste.
Although Ohio law still allows contents of frac-water to be kept trade secrets, chemicals that are known to have been used in the process include carcinogens, hormone disruptors and various other toxins. Open pits of this waste will allow some of these chemicals to become airborne, especially during our hot summers.
A 2012 Cornell University study documented two dozen incidents of livestock poisoning across six states due mainly to ingestion of exposed frac-water. Moreover, a number of studies, including those of the USGS and Penn State, show that this waste water can be highly radioactive.
A 2011 report by the New York Times found that, of 200 Marcellus wells investigated, 42 produced waste water that was radioactive. For some, the water contained 1,500 times the safe limit for radioactive radium.
Indeed, within the past week, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced plans for a year-long study of radio-activity in fracking waste water produced from its shale wells (much of which, incidentally, gets trucked to and disposed of in Ohio.
I'd also like to correct something that Sen. Eklund falsely implied at the meeting: That "local control" means that locals – maybe farmers, school bus drivers, the local diner wait staff ï¿½ will become oil and gas inspectors if townships are allowed to regain, from the state, the ability to have a say in drilling decisions.
This is ridiculous.
"Local control" largely means that communities can use their zoning laws to tighten state law. For example, state law allows for shale gas wells to be located within 150 feet of any occupied building (school, house) and within 50 feet of any river or lake. Locals might rather extend these distances.
"Local control" also means that communities can opt out of allowing this kind of development in their area, forever or at least until they have a sense that it can be done without sacrificing the health and happiness of the locals.
In short, local control is democracy.
A Holiday Tradition
For over 40 years, the Sponsor a Family programs has assisted families in Geauga County with gifts and food during the holidays.
The first year of the program, two dozen families received food baskets. During the 2012 holiday season, the program assisted 601 families. This translates to 2,045 people served and includes 1,208 children who received toys and gifts.
In addition, approximately 10,000 pounds of food was donated and distributed.
As you can imagine, this program is a huge undertaking. Planning is nearly year-round with the majority of the work beginning in October and continuing until Christmas.
This past holiday, 222 participants "sponsored a family" for the holidays. The rest of the families received help from area churches, schools, civic groups, businesses, organizations and individuals who donated food and toys to the program.
More than 300 volunteers donated their time to sort and pack food and toys. For many, volunteering for the Sponsor a Family program has become a part of their holiday tradition.
On delivery day, JFS staff and volunteers spend several hours delivering food and gifts to families.
This program would simply not exist without the overwhelming generosity of so many residents and professionals from Geauga County and beyond. On behalf of the Sponsor a Family program, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to those of you who I had the pleasure of working with as well as the many nameless and faceless people who worked so hard, in a spirit of kindness, to make this holiday enjoyable for those in Geauga County who are less fortunate.
If you are interested in learning about other volunteer opportunities, please contact me at 440-285-9141.
Community Support /
Geauga County Job and