OHIO’S ENVIRONMENT-Hydraulic Fracturing
Ohio’s Environmental Issues-Hydraulic Fracking for Shale Oil
JRN415: Methods of Research & Analysis in Journalism (CDK713DS)
Instructor: Larry Holden
April 30th 2017
Ohio’s Environmental Issues
Understanding Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Oil
Breaking the vicious cycle of dependence on foreign oil has been a main goal of the United States for decades. This dependence of foreign resources has seeped into every aspect of American livelihood.
Scientists are scurrying to develop energy technologies that will curb the tipping point of over depleted crude oil reservoirs and the need for foreign oil sources. Energy independence and environmental protections have been at the forefront of many concerns for Americans across the nation. Energy concerns have haunted Americans for decades and the policies developed in response have been politically motivated through energy subsidies developed by the federal government, Upwards of 500 billion dollars of government leveraged capital has entered in the energy sector of the United States, and much of it has gone to fracking (Counts and Block, 2016).
The energy crisis has given politicians and lawmakers greater opportunities to revise the regulations for drilling on land throughout the United States. The global transport system is almost entirely dependent on oil—not just private passenger automobiles, but trucks, ships, diesel locomotives, and the entire passenger and freight airline industry (Turk and Bensel, 2014).
Explain the unique issues confronting the topic you investigated.
Assess the major players and how they interact with each other and the public at-large.
Summarize your findings on the two specific questions investigated.
- How many fracking wells in Ohio have provided the necessary information to the Chemical Disclosure Registry, as required by the Ohio revised code under Senate Bill 315?
- Of the wells located in Carroll County what are the most frequently added chemicals to hydraulic fluid?
- What are the harms and risks associated with the list of chemicals mostly used during fracking?
Critique each of the references you used to cover both the topic at large and the specific issue you covered.
Hydraulic fracturing has become increasing popular in areas of Northern Ohio, in which shale oil is being extracted from deposits deep below the earth's surface. As with many of Earth's natural wonders humans have been finding ways to extract valuable resources to use for many purposes such as energy. Exploitation of these assets is nothing new to our society and for over a hundred years humans across the world have been creating innovative but risky technologies to extract resources such as oil, coal, and natural gas. As Turk and Bensel (2014) discuss, the facts still remain that energy companies are now going to such great lengths—including the use of a controversial techniques known as hydrofracturing (hydraulic fracturing) or "fracking"—to exploit oil shale deposits.
These new techniques of extracting oil pose many environmental risks to the areas in which fracturing wells have been permitted.
The procedure that is used to extract deposits of oil from the earth's underground reservoirs poses many risks to the environment.
Daniel McGlynn (2011) explains hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” involves injecting massive amounts of water, chemicals, sand and other material under high pressure into shale formations to break the rock and release the gas trapped inside.
Carroll County’s Shale Oil Economy
David Beach (2013) has coined Carroll County in Ohio the state's “Fracking Epicenter” in his report titled, “How the Fracking Boom Impacts Rural Ohio.” With more than 300 wells permitted for horizontal hydraulic fracturing in the Utica/Point Pleasant shale formation, Ohio’s oil boom is just getting started. Carroll County is in a rural area located in Ohio and the U.S. Census (2017) reported that the population of the county is roughly 27, 669.
Drilling for natural resources deep inside the Utica/Point Pleasant shale formation, has given the farmers in the state of Ohio a new type of commodity to harvest, shale oil.
The landowners in some parts of Ohio are leasing the sub-surface areas of their land to oil companies for upwards of $5,800 dollars per acre each month, with additional well production royalties.
Environmental Risks Acknowledged
The effects on the environmental landscape in Ohio has yet to be uncovered, while new hydraulic fracturing sites continue to pop up across the state. The ecosystems that depend on fresh water are being threatened from contamination of hydraulic fluids left after the fracturing process. Among the many risks associated with land fracking, contamination of groundwater remains a major concern for scientists and environmental advocates against the controversial drilling technique. Turk and Bensel (2014) explain over the lifespan of a single fracking well, one million gallons of toxic, briny wastewater is produced, making contaminated groundwater on of the largest environmental threats that ultimately cause harm to all living things.
Moreover, Adams (2016) reported that residents near some of the fracking operations, in multiple areas of the state, had contaminated drinking water contained high levels of hydraulic chemicals. Between 2000 and 2013, approximately 3,900 public water systems were estimated to have had at least one hydraulically fractured well within one mile of their water source (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2016).
Governor of Ohio-John Kasich
Governments are now recognizing the need for stricter guidelines and tougher regulatory measures within the U.S. drilling industry. Oil and gas wells in Ohio are regulated under the provisions found in Chapter 1509 of the Ohio Revised Code and the rules established under this chapter have been basic regulatory measures.
On June 11, 2012, Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 315 which is a landmark for oil and gas regulations. This piece of legislation is the toughest of any state and now requires well owners using hydraulic fluids to disclose the chemicals used during the process. Under the new disclosure laws, the Ohio Department of Resources has begun developing a comprehensive database listing the toxic chemicals used during the fracturing process. Ohio's new law establishes one of the nation's toughest regulatory frameworks for overseeing these new technologies.
Carroll Concerned Citizens-President Paul Feeze
Carroll Concerned Citizens, a citizen-based organization formed to educate residents about the long-term health, economic and environmental impacts of mineral extraction activities, have raised concerns that fracking fluids used in drilling could eventually contaminate drinking water supplies. Moreover, 95 percent of Carroll County residents draw from well water, not city water, explains Paul Freeze in a 2013 interview.
The Oil Shale Country Listening Project conducted a survey in which 51 percent of respondents viewed the oil and gas drilling boom negatively. Moreover 64 percent of the Carroll County respondents reported being very concerned about the damage to the local farmlands and the vast natural ecosystems across the state (Auch, 2016) .
Drilling and Energy Companies
There is a growing interest in the drilling and production of shale oil and gas across the United States. The U.S. Energy Information Administration or EIA (2017) reported during 2015 the production of crude oil and the number of land leases allowing hydraulic fracturing increased seven percent for seven consecutive years. As the number of allowable drilling sites in Ohio continues to rise, regulatory practices also begin to shape the fracking industry.
Only time will tell whether our earth’s underground resources are our ticket to energy independence.
Adams, J. U. (2016, July 15). Drinking water safety. CQ researcher, 26, 577-600.
Retrieved from http://library.cqpress.com/
Auch, P. T. (2016, January 08). Ohio Shale Country Listening Project Part 1
Beach, D. (2013, August 23). Ohio fracking photo tour | GreenCityBlueLake.
Counts, G., & Block, W. E. (2016). Fracking: A creature of government?. Energy &
Environment, 27(8), 933. doi:10.1177/0958305X16677184
Feezel, P., (2013). Interview with the President of Carroll Concerned Citizens
Houston, B. (2009). The investigative reporter’s handbook: A guide to documents,
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McGlynn, D. (2011, December 16). Fracking controversy. CQ Researcher, 21,
1049-1072. Retrieved from http://library.cqpress.com/
Ohio Administrative Code 1501:9 Division of Mineral Resources Management – Oil and Gas
Ohio Department of Natural Resources, ODNR, (2017). Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. Ohio.gov/search. http://oilandgas.ohiodnr.gov/well-information/oil-gas-well-database
S. 315, 115 Cong., Ohio General Assembly (2017) (enacted).
Turk, J., & Bensel, T. (2014). Contemporary environmental issues (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
United States Environmental Protection Agency, EPA. (2016). Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas: Impacts from the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle on Drinking Water Resources in the United States (Final Report).Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/
United States Census Bureau (2017). Carroll County Population. Retrieved from .https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/
United States Energy Information Administration, EIA. (2017). Independent Statistics and Analysis. Retrieved May 01, 2017, from https://www.eia.gov/