Ohio Bans Towns From Banning Fracking
This Tuesday, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that towns and cities are not allowed to enact their own bans on fracking through zoning laws, and that all decisions on where fracking occurs will be left to the state to decide.
This, of course, does not apply to all kinds of town bans in Ohio. Cleveland is still free to outlaw patent leather shoes, and Bay Village can still arrest you for walking a cow down the road–and don’t even try to buy cornflakes on a Sunday in Columbus, my friend! Towns and cities can still make all these kinds of decisions for themselves. Just not ones that affect their own health and supply of drinking water.
In a slim 4-3 decision, the state’s high court ruled that Ohio has “sole and exclusive” authority over oil and gas production, determining that the Ohio Constitution does not permit a local community to ban drilling approved by the state Department of Natural Resources. The fractured decision produced a concurring opinion and three separate dissents, one of which suggested that campaign cash influenced the result.
The ruling comes in response to citizens across Ohio who have raised alarm bells about what they see as harmful effects of fracking. Among their concerns: a recent study found that fracking “triggered 400 small earthquakes over a three-month period in 2013.” Another study found that fracking produced an additional 77 earthquakes in Ohio, including one strong enough to be felt by humans. There is also concern over methane gas leaking from fracking wells close to residential communities. Twenty-five families in eastern Ohio were recently evacuated after a nearby fracking well sprung a leak. Communities are also worried that chemicals from fracking will threaten drinking water — a recent Akron Beacon Journal study found that one vertical-horizontal well “required nearly 1 million pounds of liquid chemical additives.”
As if by sheer coincidence, Justice Judith French, the author of the opinion, received over $100,000 in campaign donations from fracking companies in last year’s election. It’s like magic, really, the way this happens. No one can explain it! It is but a mystery!
I’ll be frank here–I do not think fracking is a good idea. I, personally, would not like to be around fracking. I think that is a thing I should have a choice in–that everyone should have a choice in. I wish there were some way of moving everyone around so that only people who are pro-fracking, and who don’t believe fracking is a health risk, had to live around fracking sites.
The thing that bothers me here is that the communities that most often have to suck up the methane gas and deal with fracking are often poorer communities. No one is going to put that shit around a bunch of rich people who might withhold campaign donations if fracking were to occur in their area and affect their drinking water. Now, those communities won’t even have voting power when it comes to these things. And that sucks.