City Council Pushes to Ban Fracking in Athens
Fracking is the process of drilling one to three miles into the ground and blasting a combination of water and chemicals, which are not released to the public, at shale rock to release natural gas.
According to Kent Butler, First Ward representative of Athens City Council, companies such as Halliburton have perfected the process of fracking by using water and chemicals to assist drilling. However, these new developments have made it much more unpredictable and harmful to local water supplies.
Butler and Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl attended an anti-hydraulic fracturing education symposium over the summer and Butler plans to initiate legislation banning fracking within city limits within the next two months. It will mimic similar legislation in Pittsburgh, the first city in the nation to successfully outlaw fracking, Butler said.
“Athenians are pretty forward thinking and environmentally minded. My guess is that we are going to have a lot of support,” Butler said.
The support has already made itself known: Butler said he has already received a number of phone calls and emails from community members voicing support for the legislation.
Fracking uses millions of gallons of fresh usable water per drilling site to free natural gas and leaves the water contaminated and unusable in waste ponds across the countryside.
“Number one above all else is to protect our drinking water supply,” said Elahu Gosney, environmental committee chairman and at-large representative for Athens City Council.
Fracking may damage local water supplies in two ways: by altering natural springs and possibly cracking concrete wells and releasing chemicals into natural water supplies. Butler said he wants to “err on the side of caution” until there are more industry regulations.
The wording of the legislation brings on an interesting angle of law- Ohio citizens’ right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The legislation further states that citizens deserve the right to clean air and drinking water. Corporations do not have these rights, said Butler.
“I’m not so naïve to the fact that we need energy sources in America. Personally I think that we should be spending more time and energy on renewable energy,” added Butler.
Butler added that previous city administrations have gone to great lengths to protect Athens’ water supply and that local fracking legislation will likely keep on that track.Share