Watch out Ohio, here comes Freedom, Inc.

by John Howell, coordinator, Democracy Over Corporations, Athens, 3-3-14:

Will ODNR approve a permit application for a coal mining operation in Carroll County, Ohio, to be done by the same corporate complex responsible for the recent massive water pollution in West Virginia?

Rosebud Mining, the company applying for the permit is owned by J. Clifford Forrest of Kittanning, Pa., who also owns Chemstream Holdings, Inc., which, in turn owns Freedom Industries, whose facilities caused the toxic leak that rendered the water of 300,000 West Virginians unusable. Rosebud itself, in other mining operations, has had 26 violations over the past two years, and Freedom Industries, already $3.6 million in debt from failure to pay federal taxes and Bureau of Workman’s Compensation bills, has now declared bankruptcy to protect itself from 25 lawsuits that have been filed against it from the West Virginia spill. (More details can be found in a letter submitted to ODNR by Richard Sahli, attorney for Carroll Concerned Citizens…).

That record does not suggest Rosebud’s mining operations can be trusted to protect the water supply of Carroll County, or that the company would have the resources to remediate a pollution problem it might cause. ODNR Director James Zehringer’s boss, Governor Kasich, might be able to exert some influence here.

The Ohio Supreme Court is hearing a case in which the people of Munroe Falls, Ohio, are claiming the right to enforce their own local zoning laws, which regulate drilling in residential neighborhoods, to protect themselves from fracking by Beck Energy Co. in people’s yards (The Dispatch, Feb 27). Athens city voters will have chance to approve their own local fracking ban on the November ballot.

By handing to ODNR sole authority for permitting mining and drilling, our legislators, both at the state and federal level, have forsaken the people in favor of their corporate benefactors. J. Clifford Forrest maxed out his contributions to Rep. Bill Johnson, who represents Carroll County in Washington, and also contributed to John Boehner and to Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia (Bill, Jan. 24, 2014).

Without reversing the 2010 Citizens United decision of the U.S. Supreme Court and imposing restrictions on campaign spending in elections, legislatures and other government agencies will continue to support corporate bottom lines over life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of the people they are elected to serve.


Letter also published by the Athens Messenger, 3-3/4-14

Further information on Rosebud/Freedom: Owner of Freedom Industries, J. Clifford Forrest, revealed as owner of Rosebud Mining Company, which is seeking to deep mine and strip mine in Carroll County, OHCanton RepositoryRichard C. Salhi, attorney for Carroll Concerned Citizens, sent a letter last month to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, asking it to place a hold on new coal mining permit requests by Rosebud, because its owner, J. Clifford Forrest, also owns Freedom Industries, the company responsible for the Jan. 9 spill near Charleston, W.Va….”We strongly believe that Mr. Forrest’s role in the Freedom Industries fiasco necessitates that your department subject this application to greatly enhanced scrutiny if Carroll County is to be protected from the type of sordid events being revealed in Charleston,” Salhi wrote in the letter, addressed to ODNR Director James Zehringer. More…