Athens, OH, Feb. 19, 2014 ––Attorney Richard Sahli submitted a brief Tuesday on behalf of Athens County Fracking Action Network (ACFAN) to the Ohio Oil & Gas Commission opposing the state’s motion to dismiss ACFAN’s appeal of a K&H Partners’ injection well. The well was permitted by Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Oil and Gas Division, December 9, 2013, in Athens County, just weeks after a 3.5 M. earthquake, the first in the county in at least a century, and in spite of hundreds of letters and calls opposing the permit, including from the County Commission. The state’s motion seeks to prevent all appeals of injection well permits issued in Ohio.
The ACFAN brief states, “The root of the Motion to Dismiss is that the Chief is asking this Commission to immunize his actions on injection well permits under O.R.C. 1509.22(D) from review by terminating the appeal rights of untold thousands of Ohioans without regard to the seriousness of the legal and technical errors that those permits may contain. To reach this extreme result in the absence of unambiguous legislative authority is unlawful and would result in a gross overreach of unaccountable government authority over private rights.”
“Given the recent disclosure of intentional collusion between upper-level officials in the Kasich administration and the oil and gas industry to discourage and undermine opponents, we are not surprised that Ohio regulations are so thoroughly biased to favor industry over community rights and public and environmental health,” stated ACFAN member, Heather Cantino. “The revelations in the ODNR memo uncovered last week substantiate what we have concluded by studying ODNR’s permitting of injection wells. ODNR is clearly bent on permitting whatever industry wants and has absolutely no regard for public health or safety.”
ACFAN member Roxanne Groff added, “The propagandists here are the oil and gas industry and their puppets in the Kasich administration. Informed Ohio citizens are transparent in our efforts to educate the public about health risks imposed on us by weak regulations and the now clear government bedding down with industry. We have more reason than ever to continue our fight to protect Ohioans’ civil rights and communities.”
ACFAN supports the call for legislative hearings on the government-industry collusion made Tuesday by State Representatives Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Robert Hagan (D-Youngstown). They wrote: “This document [uncovered by Sierra Club last week] brings into question if government agencies, tasked to regulate and ensure public safety, have worked collaboratively with the oil and gas industry to further their agenda. In order to ensure transparency and preserve the public trust, it is imperative to hold hearings to discover if and why government agencies would join forces with private-sector, fracking-interested companies and whether a plan was implemented to silence critics of those who have legitimate concerns over the environmental impact of horizontal drilling on our state lands and if such a plan has been operationalized.” ACFAN members testified against HB 133 in 2011.
“Mr. Kasich’s recent denial of his interest in fracking public lands should not be trusted as policy. It’s just a meaningless dodge,” Cantino concluded.