Environment Ohio Research & Policy Center
Youngstown, OH — As many Ohioans consider community bans on drilling and state officials demand disclosure of fracking chemicals, a new report charges that Ohio drilling operations are producing 30 million gallons of wastewater each year – enough to flood the Ohio statehouse under 90 feet of toxic waste. The Environment Ohio Research & Policy Center report “Fracking by the Numbers” is the first of its kind to measure the footprint of fracking in Ohio to date.
“The numbers don’t lie— fracking has taken a dirty and destructive toll on our environment. If fracking continues unchecked, these numbers will only get worse,” said Christian Adams, State Associate from Environment Ohio. “Wastewater is flooding our state – and over half of it is coming from wells in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Ohio should not be a regional dumping ground for toxic wastewater.”
Vanessa Pesec, President of NEOGAP (Network for Oil & Gas Accountability and Protection) backed up the reports data findings. “This waste is not going away. Gas companies are injecting it underground, dumping it in landfills and processing it in local sewage treatment facilities – contaminating drinking water in the process,” said Pesec. “With over 500 million gallons of toxic waste and rising, we’re just seeing the ‘tip of the iceberg’ on the health threats of fracking here in Ohio.”
In addition, the “Fracking by the Numbers” report measured other key indicators of fracking threats in Ohio, including 4,600 tons of air pollution produced in 2012, and since 2005, 1.4 billion gallons of fresh water used, 1,600 acres of land degraded, and 420,000 tons of global warming pollution.
The report’s data on wastewater pollution comes as communities across the Ohio shale plays – from Youngstown to Athens – debate Community Bill of Rights amendments that would ban drilling operations in their neighborhoods. Since 2004 Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources has maintained its sole right to regulate drilling operations in the state – but in light of growing threats from fracking communities are challenging that position.
“What I find shocking about this report’s data is the extent of the damage taking place outside of Ohio,” said John Williams with the Ohio Organizing Collaborative. “The last thing that Ohio communities want is to become another Pennsylvania or Texas. Ohioans are doing what they can at the local level, but the extent of this threat underscores the need for national action.”
“The bottom line is this: the numbers on fracking add up to an environmental nightmare,” said Adams. “For public health and our environment, we need to put a stop to fracking.”
On the federal level, last month the Obama administration received more than a million comments urging much stronger protections from fracking for national forests and national parks. In addition, Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania (D-Scranton) has introduced the CLEANER Act (H.R. 2825) — a bill to close the loophole exempting oil and gas waste from the nation’s hazardous waste law.
“The data from today’s report shows that Columbus is not protecting us from this dirty drilling,” said Adams. “It’s time for Washington to step in; they can start by keeping fracking out of our forests and closing the loophole exempting toxic fracking waste from our nation’s hazardous waste law.”
Environment Ohio is a state-based, citizen-supported, environmental advocacy organization, working towards a cleaner, greener, healthier future.