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Tusc Sustainability Network offering free showing of Gasland

In an effort to further educate the public about hydraulic fracturing as it pertains to the region, the Tuscarawas County Sustainability Network is offering a free viewing of the Academy Award nominated documentary, Gasland, by film maker Josh Fox. The film investigates the hydraulic drilling methods being used by natural gas companies across the country.

The free viewing will take place March 19, at 2 p.m., at JIM’s Place, 228 W. High Ave., New Philadelphia. The public is invited to attend.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “hydraulic fracturing is a well stimulation process used to maximize the extraction of underground resources – oil, natural gas and geothermal energy. The hydraulic fracturing process includes the acquisition of source water, well construction, well stimulation, and waste disposal.

“Hydraulic fracturing involves the pressurized injection of fluids commonly made up of water and chemical additives into a geologic formation. The pressure exceeds the rock strength and the fluid opens or enlarges fractures in the rock. As the formation is fractured, a “propping agent,” such as sand or ceramic beads, is pumped into the fractures to keep them from closing as the pumping pressure is released. The fracturing fluids (water and chemical additives) are then returned back to the surface. Natural gas will flow from pores and fractures in the rock into the well for subsequent extraction.”

The EPA fact sheet published in June 2010 states “potential risks to surface and underground sources of drinking water might occur at various points in the hydraulic fracturing process.”

Residents in the region have been approached by natural gas companies, including Chesapeake Energy, the second largest producer of natural gas in the U.S., to allow drilling that would include hydraulic fracturing as a means of natural gas extraction on their property.

Jennifer Rowland, a New Philadelphia resident, said, “Chesapeake Energy approached me about leasing my land for natural gas drilling. They offered me $300 a month if I signed the lease. I explained I needed to do more research. They told me they could take the gas even if I didn’t sign the lease, but if they messed up my water, I would not be protected.” Rowland lives on 10 acres on Possum Hollow Road outside the city.

“I started researching the effects of hydraulic fracturing and the information I uncovered was shocking,” said Rowland. “We have all become so desensitized and think, oh well, everything is bad for us so we should just ignore the warnings. I discovered evidence that tipped the scale, evidence that these so-called time-tested drilling techniques are indeed potentially dangerous and can be life altering if something goes wrong.”

According to the Chesapeake Energy hydraulic fracturing fact sheet, “the measures required by state regulatory agencies in the exploration and production of deep shale gas formations have been very effective in protecting drinking water aquifers from contamination attributable to hydraulic fracturing. Based on reviews of state oil and gas agencies, there has not been a documented case of drinking water contamination related to hydraulic fracturing of a deep shale gas well. Furthermore, the Ground Water Protection Council issued a report in April of 2009 stating that the potential for hydraulic fracturing in deep shale gas wells to impact groundwater is extremely remote, as low as one in 200 million.”

Suspected cases of groundwater contamination have been documented across the country, including one case in Ohio in 2007 when, according to an incident list compiled by Amy Mall, a staff member of the Natural Resources Defense Council, “there was an explosion of a water well and contamination of at least 22 other drinking water wells in Bainbridge Township after hydraulic fracturing of a nearby natural gas well owned by Ohio Valley Energy Systems. According to the state investigation, one of the contributing factors to this incident is that: ‘the frac communicated directly with the well bore and was not confined within the “Clinton” reservoir’.”

In 2004, an Ohio law took away control over oil and gas drilling from local communities, many of which had ordinances restricting drilling, and gave all authority to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Mineral Resources Management, which oversees oil and gas drilling in the state.

The EPA is currently studying the effects of hydraulic fracturing and a report is due sometime in 2012.

Published: March 8, 2011
New Article ID: 2011703089939