West Virginia’s plan to frack The Ohio River may produce no state revenue, more earthquakes for Ohioans

West Virginia Governor Earl Tomblin has opened bidding to companies looking to capture leases on the state’s oil and natural gas wells, located 14 miles beneath West Virginia’s section of the Ohio River. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking–a controversial process which has been linked to a surge of earthquakes in states where fracking is a major industry–looks likely to begin operations on this natural barrier between West Virginia and Ohio. What now, you ask? Is that legal? Yea, apparently it is.

In a letter to Governor Tomblin, written and signed by leaders of various environmental coalitions in Ohio and West Virginia, several risks, consequences, and shortcomings of the proposed plan to frack the Ohio River are outlined and enumerated.

One clear problem that caught my attention: inevitable spillage of chemicals into the Ohio River. I’m sure you remember the last time chemicals were found to be somehow leaking into a river in West Virginia? Citizens had to rely solely on bottled water, or shower at their own risk.

Then there’s the problem of an existing fault-line right near the location where the hydraulic fracturing will occur. This means an even greater potential for 3.0 or higher earthquakes, like the one that impacted Poland, Ohio earlier this year. In fact, in April of 2014, Ohio became the first state to make a direct link between fracking and the upsurge of localized earthquakes, actually creating new regulatory barriers to attempt to reduce the earthquake-impact of fracking.

The idea that we should actively start fracking for natural gas in and around coal country is not exactly a comforting notion that will help me rest easy at night. I mean, I’m no coal mining expert, but that just seems like a newer bad idea on top of an already institutionalized bad idea. It’s true, Governor Tomblin’s administration isn’t beholden to the people of Ohio, but there should be a way to ensure that the mistakes he makes in West Virginia don’t directly affect us here in Ohio.

If you want to do something about this problem, you can write to Governor Tomblin, and/or pledge your support to the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, one of the leading Ohio-based organizations working to preserve our safety and stop this plan to frack beneath the Ohio River.

You can also check out some disconcertedly unconcerned interviews given by local West Virginia residents, in a pro-fracking segment broadcast by WTRF 7, a Wheeling Steubenville cable outlet.
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