Posts Tagged 'fracking'

State Rep. Okey Speaks Out Against Chesapeake Energy Corp.

During an interview featured in a new investigative piece by Reuters, State Representative Mark D. Okey (D-Carrollton) voiced his opposition to Chesapeake Energy’s forceful practices regarding the leasing of land for oil and gas development.

“They believe in intimidation tactics. They threaten you. They will yell at you….It’s all about getting you to sign,” Rep. Okey told the news outlet. “You don’t sign? We’ll go around you. You don’t sign? You’ll not get anything out of your mineral rights. You don’t sign? Then you’re going to pay the price because we’re going to take those minerals from you.”

Representative Okey is responding to constituents who have labeled Chesapeake’s “landmen” as the most aggressive – and sometimes deceptive – in securing leases. Many Ohio landowners have testified that Chesapeake seeks to “force pool” their land, which uses a little-known provision of state law to mandate that unleased property is included in drilling units.

Representative Okey has sponsored HB 493, known as “The Truth in Leasing Act,” to guarantee basic leasing protections and a minimum royalty for Ohio’s landowners akin to those found in neighboring states. 

Read the full story here.



State Rep. Antonio Calls on ODNR to Test Toxic Frack Waste

State Representative Nickie J. Antonio joined with other concerned citizens and wrote a letter to the Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director and Staff calling on the agency to carry out testing of “brine”, as they have the authority to test.  “Brine” is the waste water from the hydro-fracturing process.

According to a report of the recent sampling of “brine” from the Hazel-Ginsberg injection well, the results show the sample contains high levels of alpha particles, arsenic, barium, and toluene, among other contaminants. The test was performed by Ben Stout, professor of biology at Wheeling Jesuit University and not ODNR.  Rep. Antonio is asking ODNR to start testing all “brine” and if the fluid is shown to be harmful to people it should be labeled a hazardous waste.  Pennsylvania hauls its fracked waste water to Ohio to dispose of in Ohio’s injection wells while ODNR receives 20 cents per gallon of “brine” for allowing them to dump it here.

The letter calls on ODNR for stewardship to ensure safety and the health of our environment.  “This is a public health concern which you have the responsibility and the authority to protect with regard to the environmental threats to the community health and wellbeing,” said Rep. Antonio. “As a state agency you should uphold transparency and public safety above all else.”

 A copy of the letter can be seen below:

July 11, 2012 

James Zehringer
ODNR, Director
2045 Morse Rd, Building D
Columbus, OH 43229-6693

Dear Director Zehringer:

I write today to respectfully request the Department of Natural Resources to test all “brine” waste water from the hydro-fracturing process.  According to a report of the recent sampling of brine from the Hazel-Ginsburg injection well by Ben Stout, biology professor at Wheeling Jesuit University, the results have shown the sample contains hazardous materials.  My understanding is that this is the first ever testing of “brine” by an outside source.  “Brine” is chemical laden produced “water” which is the end result of horizontal fracturing otherwise known as fracking.  As a public health precaution, “brine” should always be tested to determine the chemical components of the fluid before injecting it into a well in the earth. 

It should be noted that, Pennsylvania currently is hauling its fracked waste water to Ohio to dispose of in Ohio’s injection wells.  They are paying more than one million dollars a year to dump their waste here as they do not allow it in their own state.  As more wells in our Ohio are horizontally fracked, it is imperative to test brine before putting it into the earth again.

As you are aware, ODNR has authority to order testing of brine before it is injected under section 1509.06 of the Ohio Revised Code.  As your role is to carry out the testing of brine to protect Ohioans from pollutants that could harm them, the citizens of Ohio expect nothing less.  After testing, if any brine waste fluid is shown to be harmful to people it should then be labeled a hazardous waste.  Hazardous waste is dangerous and potentially harmful to our health or the environment. Hazardous wastes can be liquids, solids, gases, or sludges. They can be discarded commercial products, like cleaning fluids or pesticides, or the by-products of manufacturing processes.  This will ensure that if there is a spill or leak the proper procedures will be in place to remedy the situation.  This is a public health concern which you have the responsibility and the authority to protect with regard to the environmental threats to the community health and wellbeing.  As a state agency you should uphold transparency and public safety above all else.

The people of Ohio depend on your stewardship of Department of Natural Resources to ensure the safety and health of our environment now and in the future, and so I urge your action on this matter sooner than later. I appreciate your consideration and would also appreciate your timely response to this request.


Nickie J. Antonio
State Representative
House District 13


Budish: Frack Tax should be Reviewed, Schools shouldn’t be Shortchanged

In response to Gov. John Kasich’s renewed push to increase the severance tax on oil and gas companies, House Democratic Leader Armond Budish released the following statement:

“Gov. Kasich’s proposal to modestly increase the severance tax on oil and gas companies is a step in the right direction.  But we should be protecting local property taxpayers and prioritizing our communities, not passing more tax cuts that disproportionately benefit wealthy Ohioans. 

“Ohio has one of the lowest severance tax rates in the country so reviewing those rates only makes sense as large oil and gas companies attempt to capitalize on Ohio’s natural resources.  On this, I agree with Gov. Kasich and frankly I can’t understand why House Republicans have stood in the way.

“Instead of protecting the oil and gas industry with one of the lowest tax rates in the country, we should be finding ways to prioritize our communities and protect local property taxpayers. The fallout from last year’s budget is just beginning.  In next month’s special election alone, 35 communities will be seeking local property tax increases.

“Furthermore, the impact of this new industry is going to add significant costs for local communities and this proposal does very little to address this. There’s also serious concern about protecting against environmental risk.  As of 2011, Ohio had only 30 field inspectors to inspect 64,481 wells. Adding a few more will help but our overall regulatory capacity is still limited.

“I truly believe that our state is only as strong as our local communities.  Going forward, we must prioritize Ohio communities and protect local property taxpayers.  I agree with Gov. Kasich, we should determine a fair frack tax rate, but we shouldn’t shortchange our schools and local communities along the way.”


Rep. Okey Works to Protect Landowners from Deceptive Practices By the Oil and Gas Industry

This week, NBC 4 investigated if landowners are being “ripped” off by oil and gas companies buying up land for fracking.  As fracking is starting boom in Ohio, State Representative Mark D. Okey recently introduced his “Truth in Leasing” bill (HB 493) to protect Ohio’s landowners against fraud, abuse, and deceptive practices by the oil and natural gas industry. 

Watch NBC4 Investigates: Are Landowners Getting Ripped Off By Fracking?

HB 493 will include provisions in three main areas: fairness, honesty, and accountability. Minimum royalty payments will be set at a level that reasonably compensates landowners for their resources, while prohibiting oil companies from using legal loopholes to take more than their fair share. Landowners would have the right to yearly audits – at the driller’s expense – to ensure that their royalty payments are accurate.

To guarantee an honest leasing process, the “landmen” who secure leases on behalf of drillers would be subject to a new licensing system. Before any lease is signed, landowners must be informed of their rights and encouraged to consult with an independent attorney to protect their interests.

Finally, companies would be held accountable for the consequences of drilling, by disclosing all chemicals and compounds used to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, paying for the testing of local water supplies before and after drilling, and issuing public notification of any accidents or incidents related to drilling that may result in property damage or health risks.

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