Dear Tappan and Seneca Lake Neighbors and Friends,
By now you have probably heard that yet another reservoir in the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) will be leased for fracking. Tappan Lake is next on the chopping block as the MWCD continues to plunder valuable public resources for profit. As we have warned our friends and neighbors at Seneca and Piedmont Lakes before, the leasing for horizontal hydraulic fracturing next to and under lake beds is a certain way to threaten fresh water supplies and degrade property values in the future.
Concerns for water quality have already been raised for Tappan Lake. According to FracTracker.org: “Interestingly Tappan Lake’s integrity from a water quality perspective has come under pressure thanks to the Chesapeake Energy Dodson well according to Charles Fisher, administrator of the Harrison County Health Department and organic farmer John M. Luber as ‘a stream…that empties into Tappan Lake becomes discolored during periods of rainfall or melting snow…the pollution did not happen until drilling operations began.’” Now yet another lake is being leased for fracking that will impact its future water quality and quantity, thus threatening the value of the area for its recreational, residential, and agricultural opportunities for the long-term.
Instead of conserving and protecting the area as a conservancy should, the MWCD is supporting and promoting fracking. Not only is the MWCD leasing vast amounts of reservoir acreage for fracking to reap hundreds of millions of dollars of profit for itself, it is also selling valuable public water supplies to support the industry. On average, each time a well is fracked (and a single well can be fracked up to 18 times), over 5.1 million gallons of water is destroyed. Fracking makes water so toxic and radioactive that it is turned into hazardous waste that is mostly disposed of by being pumped into injection wells. Injection wells are known to not only cause earthquakes, but they can leak, threatening remaining water supplies. Add to that the leaking long laterals left underground from fracking that can allow remaining frack fluid to seep up into reservoirs and ground water, and we have a toxic threat to the area’s entire watershed over time.
All this is being done by a “conservancy” district that is allowed to tax our properties based upon the premise that it operates for public benefit. This tax-assessing power can also be used to pay for costly cleanup in the future. Because there is no accountability, the public can be forced to pay for damages incurred by the MWCD’s profiteering actions now – the same as public tax dollars now being used to pay for acid mine drainage problems in the area from mining companies who left the area long ago.
Fracking is known to contaminate the air with toxic chemicals such as benzene, toluene and xylene. A recent study just released shows that those living near fracking operations are more than twice as likely to have health effects than those living farther away. Per a recent article in USA Today: “Nearly two of every five, or 39%, of those living less than a kilometer (or two-thirds of a mile) from a well reported upper respiratory symptoms, compared to 18% living more than 2 kilometers away, according to a Yale University-led random survey of 492 people in 180 households with ground-fed water wells in southwestern Pennsylvania.”
Residents and property owners in the area are increasingly asking themselves what they can do to protect themselves, their property values and their water quality for the future from fracking’s toxic chemicals and unregulated dumping. Turns out the costs are greater than the benefits to an area. We know from the problems experienced in other states that fracking does not deliver the “clean energy future” that we have been promised. Most fracked gas is slated to be exported to other countries. And fracking releases so much methane into the atmosphere it is now being blamed as yet another factor contributing to global climate change. With the leaking wells and flaring, mass quantities of methane are released into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas with effects up to 100 times worse than CO2 in the atmosphere. Just like the boom/bust cycle of all fossil fuel extraction industries, the area is likely to be left much worse off than before after fracking is finished.
For instance, a recent study shows that the process of fracking has contaminated drinking water wells in Pennsylvania 243 times. These are just documented cases – many more are under investigation. It is likely just a few years from now as the fracking long laterals leak as well as injection wells that groundwater supplies will be contaminated. According to a recent article in the Washington Times in PA: “After years of delays and confusion Pennsylvania is releasing details of 243 cases where regulators determined that oil or natural gas drilling or related activities ruined private drinking water wells. The 243 cases from 2008 to 2014 include some where multiple water wells were impacted. The problems include methane gas contamination attributed to drilling, spills of wastewater and other pollutants, and wells that went dry or were otherwise undrinkable. Other complaints are still being investigated.” More information can be found at http://bit.ly/1lyMfGG.
In Ohio recently, a toxic chemical spill from a fracking accident in Monroe County killed an estimated 70,000 fish immediately. The chemicals included benzene acetone and toluene, and one that there isn’t even a protocol to measure. No one knows exactly what was in the chemical soup that was released into a tributary of the Ohio River because some fracking chemicals are considered “proprietary” so the industry can keep them a secret.
Because fracking is basically an unregulated industry with special exemptions from important regulations such as the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act, exemptions that no other industry in the US can have. Facts are that fracking and the huge amount of toxic waste it creates are causing serious public health and environmental issues. These facts have been covered up, downplayed and even misinterpreted to fool the public that “fracking” is safe, has been done for over 70 years, and is even bringing jobs to Ohio, albeit toxic, temporary jobs. All the industry lies and propaganda are being exposed despite the huge expenditures the industry makes to sway politicians, university studies, and the media.
Bottom line for all of us living in Southeast Ohio – how do we protect ourselves, our property values, and our water? In the face of fracking, what we don’t know CAN hurt us! That is why we continue to research and publish the truth to provide resources and information people need to have. References for the facts in this letter and more information can be found online at “Southeast Ohio Alliance to Save Our Water from “ on Facebook. The website for FreshWater Accountability Project is www.FWAP.org. Please check us out!
We invite you to a special information meeting at the Muskingum County Library in New Concord, Ohio on October 11 at 1:00 pm to learn more about the impacts of fracking and what can be done. In the meantime, we invite you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your individual concerns and questions. What else can be done? You can contact your elected representatives at the state and local levels with your concerns and to try to stop the leasing of yet another reservoir by the MWCD. It may be too late to save Clendening, Leesville, Seneca, and Piedmont, but Tappan has not yet been leased. With many more people learning about fracking now and speaking out about it, perhaps there is time to save a reservoir that is already threatened and needs to be protected. Please contact the MWCD at 877-363-8500 and tell them DON’T LEASE TAPPAN!
We are dedicated to the truth and supporting those who will be most impacted – those who will still live in the area after the industry has taken its profits and left. In the future, we aim to hold the MWCD accountable for the damages caused by its support of fracking rather than its protection of valuable public resources. We look forward to meeting you in person on October 11 if you can join us!
Board Member – Buckeye Forest Council
Board Member – Ohio Community Rights Network