Friday, December 27, 2013

Fracking, Earthquakes, Water, & Local Government Control: Youngstown, Ohio & Niles, Ohio Area Concerned Citizens Seek to Affirm Local Self-Governance Rights to Protect Their Public Health, Safety, General Welfare, Property Values, and Private Property Rights

Fracking, Earthquakes, Water, and Local Government Control:  Youngstown, Ohio and Niles, Ohio Area Concerned Citizens Seek to Affirm Local Self-Governance Rights to Protect Their Public Health, Safety, General Welfare, Property Values, and Private Property Rights

For Immediate Release:  December 27, 2013
Community Bill of Rights Committee                           News Release

 Youngstown, Ohio, December 27, 2013 -  The Youngstown, Ohio Community Bill of Rights Committee said they would be back,  and they already are.

       Members of the committee and other local supporters of the Youngstown Community Bill of Rights Charter Amendment, which opposes fracking and upholds citizens’ fundamental right to local self governance and control, are going door to door in Youngstown with petitions seeking voter signatures to place a Community Bill of Rights Charter Amendment question on the Youngstown ballot in May, 2014. They have launched a new website at: http://www.protectyoungstown.org/     
 
      The group says the public is warmly welcoming them. The committee is very pleased that Niles, Ohio concerned citizens are also now collecting signatures for their similar petition effort that seeks to place a ballot question on the Niles ballot in May, 2014.  Niles concerned citizens launched a new website describing their effort to uphold their local rights and to ban fracking within Niles city limits at: www.keepnilessafe.org     

      According to Susie Beiersdorfer, geologist and Youngstown Community Bill of Rights (CBR) Committee member,          “We now have a powerful base of almost 5000 Youngstown voters that could easily sway an election or ballot question. We will win this time because the truth resonates. We needed only 6 percent more YES votes to win on the ballot question in Youngstown on November, 2013. The gap is closing in our favor, and we soundly gained ground in November.  In the November, 2013 election, the opposition spent an exorbitant amount of money compared to what we spent.  In addition to the money, they also spent countless hours to oppose us, and we still gained ground. We are extremely happy about that. It shows the strength and truth of our position.”     

     The Youngstown grassroots, concerned citizens group says that despite massive spending by industry and pro-fracking allies to try to defeat them, the Community Bill of Rights Charter Amendment ballot question picked up 1830 more YES votes in their favor since the May 2013 election (May: 2912 YES votes; November: 4742 YES votes) and narrowed the margin from 13.71% to only 9.72 %.  More Youngstown voters supported the proposed Community Bill of Rights Charter Amendment in November than in May 2013.       

     “Our analysis of the election results is that as Youngstown voters are becoming more fully informed about fracking and local control issues, voters are turning against fracking, and are demanding local control over how they want their community to be – which is the citizens’ fundamental right.  We say the closing gap, which was 13.71 % in the May 2013 election and now is only 9.72%, is evidence of this growing sentiment,” said Lynn Anderson, a Youngstown Community Bill of Rights (CBR) Committee member.            

      Lynn Anderson also emphasizes that the margin is closing in the CBR committee's favor and that the committee soundly gained ground in November even though the CBR group spent only about half as much money as they did in their CBR May, 2013 campaign.  Lynn Anderson also says, "Youngstown citizens can visit the Mahoning County Board of Elections campaign finance website at http://www.voterfind.tzo.org/mahoningoh/webcfs/cfsearch.aspx  .   Type in Plumbers and add the final tally from the two 30-B-2 forms (October and December 2013) and see that the opposition spent over $81,000 against this ballot initiative. It is disgraceful that the opposition hired out of state ad agencies to formulate direct mail to confuse the issue in the public’s mind.”               

     The Youngstown Community Bill of Rights Committee says elections cannot be bought in America – even if the laws allow an unequal financial playing field. The group believes that, in general, it is un-American and immoral for outsiders to try to influence a local ballot question result by injecting massive amounts of advertising or lobbying money that greatly outspends the grassroots community. The public knows that is unfair. They see right through it.       
     The CBR group says that they are raising awareness of citizens’ and their official representatives’ local fundamental right and duty to protect the public health, safety, and general welfare of their communities. It is the 2004 Ohio state law, H.B. 278, that claims it can take away citizens’ local rights, that is unconstitutional. That state law is a bad law. The Community Bill of Rights Charter Amendment upholds American laws and values, and all citizens’ unalienable, natural, fundamental rights.       

     The group says that nearly every day – either in Ohio or in other states - another serious fracking related accident, evacuation, civil rights or human rights violation, or other event occurs that validates to the public that what the group has been saying is the truth.       

     For example, on December 19, 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an enormously significant court decision ruling that major parts of Pennsylvania’s shale drilling-related law, Act 13, were unconstitutional. The group believes that Act 13 is similar to the Ohio state drilling-related law, H.B. 278, which claims it can deprive local communities of certain fundamental rights.       

     The group believes that the outcome favoring local control in the  Pennsylvania Act 13 case is a preview of what is to come to Ohio’s similar law that erroneously says it can trump citizens’ civil, fundamental, and human rights to determine how they want their community to be and to protect their community’s health, safety, and welfare.  That Ohio law, they feel, will go the same way as the one in Pennsylvania – it will be ruled unconstitutional.          

     Please see “Pennsylvania Supreme Court declares portions of shale-drilling law unconstitutional,” a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by Don Hopey, December 20, 2013, at: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/2013/12/19/Pennsylvania-Supreme-Court-declares-portions-of-shale-drilling-law-unconstitutional/stories/201312190254       
     The group bases their information upon valid scientific reports, facts, and other accurate documentation. They say that politics, industry lobbying, and bureaucratic incompetence cannot be put above good science and the well-being of the community. The serious risks and adverse outcomes related to fracking and related processes are real. The public health, safety, and well-being must come first. The group says that to put profits over people is immoral and harmful to communities.       

Especially alarming to the Community Bill of Rights Committee and its supporters is that, locally or nationwide, heavy industrial fracking-related operations or infrastructure continue to be permitted near homes, children’s schools, farms, parks, forests, and cemeteries – in neighborhoods and residential areas.  Private property issues, such as forced pooling, occur. Real estate home property values can decrease as heavy fracking-related industrial operations are permitted near homes or residential areas.       
    The group is concerned about the plight and adverse health claims of those residents living near a heavy industrial fracking operation permitted by the state of Ohio in nearby Weathersfield Township.  Please see the following astonishing video that shows gas flaring and concerns of residents living near the fracking operation:
“Westwood Lake Nightmare” (published June 23, 2013)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UEfXg9km5Q         

     The CBR Committee and supporters say that we, as a community, can learn a lot from other states’ experiences with fracking and related issues, including recent multiple earthquakes in Oklahoma and Texas. According to a KXAN – TV news report, North Texas had approximately twenty earthquakes in one month.  Please see KXAN news report titled, “20th earthquake in month reported in North Texas Latest happened about 20 miles NW of Fort Worth,” December 3, 2013, (includes new video and article) at: http://ww
w.kxan.com/news/20th-earthquake-in-month-reported-in-north-texas
      

     Some scientists feel that the latter earthquakes, and others, may be associated with deep fracking waste injection wells, like the one that caused the now-famous 4.0 magnitude earthquake in Youngstown, Ohio on December 31, 2011.  Scientists have linked Youngstown’s earthquakes to the D&L Northstar 1 injection well.      

     Group members say that the bottom line is that unconventional fracking continually creates millions of gallons of toxic fracking waste that has to go somewhere. There is no good, safe solution to this problem. Where will it all go?  Unfortunately, much of the waste currently goes to Ohio. Ohio is not a toxic fracking waste dumping ground. Ohioans are not expendable. No one anywhere is expendable.      

     In Ohio, an increasing number of toxic fracking waste injection wells are being permitted, built, or operated, such as the one in Weathersfield Township, Ohio, where local officials wisely oppose them. See “City of Niles sides with Weathersfield, opposes brine injection well plans,” WFMJ.com, updated August 31, 2012 at:
http://www.wfmj.com/story/19351516/niles-sides-weathersfield-opposes-brine-injection-well-plans
      

     Even though local officials and some residents opposed the injection wells, the state of Ohio permitted one in their community anyway.  An injection well is now being built in Weathersfield Township. 

      The increasing number of permits issued by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) for yet more injection wells is despite the fact that Youngstown has already had at least 109 earthquakes, including the 4.0 magnitude earthquake on December 31, 2011 that scientists acknowledge was linked to the Youngstown D&L Northstar 1 injection well.      

     Furthermore, the group says, earthquakes cannot be regulated. It is reckless and irresponsible for anyone to pretend that earthquakes that could result from injection of fracking waste into deep injection wells can be regulated or kept small in magnitude.  Ohio is not the only state where local officials and residents have serious concerns and legitimate grievances about toxic fracking waste injection wells.       

     According to the Mayor of Azle, Texas, speaking of the almost 20 earthquakes in one month, as reported in Climate Progress, December 6, 2013: “’If it is determined that quakes are caused by the disposal wells, then the disposal wells need to stop. It’s that simple,’ the city of Azle’s Mayor Alan Brundrett said."        

     The latter quote and embedded link is from an article by Katie Valentine titled, “Researchers Link Earthquakes in Texas To Fracking Process,” at:
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/12/06/3029951/texas-fracking-earthquakes/
      
“It is especially disconcerting that residents in Prague, Oklahoma experienced a 5.6 magnitude earthquake that reputable scientists think may possibly be linked to deep disposal well injection of toxic fracking waste. An earthquake of this magnitude can cause human injury and collapsed buildings – especially in areas where earthquakes are not common and infrastructure is not reinforced to safeguard against earthquake damage. We already had 109 earthquakes in Youngstown, Ohio, including the 4.0 on December 31, 2011.  Human beings cannot regulate earthquakes to make sure that they stay small. This is especially true because the two faults under Youngstown have been destabilized. This is an irreversible effect of the D&L Northstar 1 injection-induced seismicity. We must stop injection wells now to help to prevent a possible 5.6 or greater magnitude quake, as well as smaller tremors,” said Dr. Ray Beiersdorfer, Professor of Geology at Youngstown State University.       

      Group members say that continuing on the path we are on regarding earthquakes and injection wells makes no common sense. The potential impact of frequent earthquakes, even smaller, under 3.0 magnitude quakes possibly linked to injection wells in any state, should not be minimized. This increased number of earthquakes is not normal.  We, as a society, should not and cannot become desensitized to this situation. The views of some people, whose incomes depend upon giving false reassurances to the public about the possible implications of the earthquakes, should be held to intense scrutiny, increased scientific inquiry, and open, public transparency. More media coverage would go a long way in raising general public awareness of these issues and would be a real community service.       
      It’s time for clear-thinking adults to intervene to legally stop this irrational quest by industry and a few others for a quick way to make money, while the majority of society suffers the costs. Those costs include financial, health- related, and costs to our democratic process. The public health, well-being, safety, drinking water, air, and fundamental rights must be the first consideration.       

     It has become extremely obvious that something needs to be done now about the increase in injection well-linked earthquakes that, alarmingly, are becoming more and more commonplace, according to reputable scientists and researchers. In fact, two United States Representatives, Representative Peter DeFazio and Representative Henry Waxman,  are wisely calling for hearings on the man-made earthquakes.  Their efforts to raise national awareness of the earthquake/injection well problem should be commended and supported locally and nationwide.

        According to The Oklahoman, Representative Peter DeFazio and Representative Henry Waxman said:  “… the two panels should hold a joint hearing to study the increase of seismic activity in areas that had previously been inactive and ‘the potential regulatory gaps in current law that put people and property at risk from man-made earthquakes.’”      

       The latter quote is from: “Democrats want hearing on whether earthquakes are linked to fracking: Citing research on Oklahoma earthquakes, two Democrats call on Republican committee leaders to look into unusual seismic activity,” by Chris Casteel, December 19, 2013, The Oklahoman:
http://newsok.com/democrats-want-hearing-on-whether-earthquakes-are-linked-to-fracking/article/3915820
     

      For an increasing number of reasons, including a shocking lack of public transparency on the part of ODNR, many members of the public have lost confidence in the ability of the state bureaucracy, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), to competently protect the public health, safety, general well-being and private property rights of Ohioans.

       One reason for the loss of public confidence in ODNR is that football-field sized, open, toxic fracking waste centralized impoundment pits, or “lagoons,” which were reportedly banned in Ohio, have recently been permitted and are scheduled to make their appearance in Ohio by January 1, 2014.       

     See “Ohio will soon authorize fracking wastewater pools Football field-sized ponds to recycle waste,” by Jamison Cocklin, The Vindicator, October 6, 2013, at:
http://www.vindy.com/news/2013/oct/06/oil-and-gas-drilling-ohio-set-to-ok-pits/


       These pits are still going forward despite apparent problems with impoundments in other states. To Frackfree Mahoning Valley’s knowledge, no one at ODNR fully adequately notified nor informed the general public of this plan – although they are supposed to be accountable to the public.  Nevertheless, plans for the football-sized fracking waste “lagoons” are still in place to proceed. This is unacceptable. The public has a right to be fully informed beforehand – not after the fact - and to have a legal say about issues that can directly impact or involve risks to their public health, safety, or general well-being. See the Frackfree Mahoning Valley press release dated October 14, 2013, at:
http://frackfreemahoning.blogspot.com/2013/10/frackfree-mahoning-valley-calls-for.html       

       The group stresses that the oil and gas industry is not the only business in this area. The oil and gas industry does not deserve special treatment or law exemptions over all other businesses or human beings. We must be aware of possible adverse economic effects of heavy industrialization via fracking upon property values, upon the $43 billion per year Ohio tourist industry, and also upon agriculture, farming, and real estate businesses.       

     We must remain open to healthy family living in our communities, freedom to quiet enjoyment of private property rights, and healthy, ethical, and responsible businesses.   (According to a Vindicator AP article, tourism is the fourth-largest industry in Ohio “supporting 443,000 jobs” and $43 billion annually: See “Ohio House panel discusses attracting tourists,” September 10, 2013), AP: 
http://www.vindy.com/news/2013/sep/10/ohio-house-panel-discusses-attracting-tourists/?nw

       For media inquiries or more information, or to volunteer to help take petitions door to door to get voter signatures in Youngstown or Niles, please contact the petition committees via Frackfree Mahoning Valley at: 
234-201-0402   or  e-mail:  frackfreemahoning@gmail.com

For more information please see the following links:    

People living near heavy industrial fracking operations talk about their experience: 
  “Westwood Lake Nightmare” (published June 23, 2013); Trumbull County, Ohio.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UEfXg9km5Q
 

“Fracking hell: what it’s really like to live next to a shale gas well,” by Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian , article and video, December 13, 2013:   
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/dec/14/fracking-hell-live-next-shale-gas-well-texas-us  

More regarding Westwood Lake Park and fracking, etc. “Faith motivates Catholics to speak out on gas, oil drilling practices,” by Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service, posted December 12, 2013, Catholic Courier at: http://www.catholiccourier.com/in-depth/previous-topics/debate-over-fracking/faith-motivates-catholics-to-speak-out-on-gas-oil-drilling-practices/  

Earthquakes and fracking waste injection wells: 
(The Two - Year Anniversary of the Youngstown, Ohio Injection Well 4.0 magnitude Earthquake is December 31, 2013.)   “Experts Eye Oil and Gas Industry as Quakes Shake Oklahoma,” by Henry Fountain, The New York Times, December 12, 2013, [Youngstown, Ohio is in a caption in the video that goes along with this article.]: 
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/13/science/earth/as-quakes-shake-oklahoma-scientists-eye-oil-and-gas-industry.html?pagewanted=all  

“Induced seismicity associated with fluid injection into a deep well in Youngstown, Ohio,” by Won-Young Kim, Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, Volume 118, Issue 7, July 2013, Wiley Online Library: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jgrb.50247/abstract  

[Athens, Ohio]  “After earthquake, city council sides with county on halting use of injection wells,” December 3, 2013, by Cassie Kelly, The Post, at:
http://thepost.ohiou.edu/content/after-earthquake-city-council-sides-county-halting-use-injection-wells 

  “Distant Earthquakes Trigger Tremors at U.S. Waste-Injection Sites, Says Study,” ScienceDaily, July 11, 2013:    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130711142401.htm  

“Oil Addiction, Not Fracking, Caused the 2011 Oklahoma Earthquakes,” by David Biello, March 27, 2013, Scientific American Blogs, [Youngstown 4.0 mag. earthquake mentioned in video with article] http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2013/03/27/oil-addiction-not-fracking-caused-the-2011-oklahoma-earthquakes/    

  “…’There’s something important about getting unexpectedly large earthquakes out of small systems that we have discovered here,’ he said. The observations mean that ‘the risk of humans inducing large earthquakes from even small injection activities is probably higher’ than previously thought, he said.” [Excerpt from:] “Wastewater Injection Spurred Biggest Earthquake Yet, Says Study March 26, 2013  2011 Oklahoma Temblor Came Amid Increased Manmade Seismicity,” Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Earth Institute at:  http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/wastewater-injection-spurred-biggest-earthquake-yet-says-study

  “In Oklahoma, water, fracking – and a swarm of quakes,” by Carey Gillam, November 19, 2013, Reuters at:  http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/19/us-usa-earthquakes-fracking-oklahoma-idUSBRE9AI12W20131119   

“Mineral Wells quake follows another temblor near Azle,” by Barry Shlachter, December 9, 2013, Star-Telegram; [includes list of some area earthquakes:]
http://www.star-telegram.com/2013/12/08/5402450/ice-storm-cant-put-the-freeze.html   

“Residents in Azle told CBS 11 News that they are concerned about the rising number of earthquakes rocking the area.” [Excerpt from:] “Earthquake Strikes North Texas Saturday Night,” CBSDFW.com, December 15, 2013, http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2013/12/15/earthquake-strikes-north-texas-saturday-night/?utm_source=web&utm_medium=twitter  

“Officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources would not go on camera for this report, but they responded to questions about the issue.” [Excerpt from:]  “Ohio dumping ground for fracking waste?” November 8, 2013, WKBN-TV 27 First News: http://www.wkbn.com/news/local/ohio-dumping-ground-for-fracking-waste  

“Since oil and gas drillers are exempt from key provisions of federal hazardous waste law, they are also exempt from the earthquake prevention rules when they inject wastewater from hydraulic fracturing.”        [Excerpt from:] “Earthquakes: Drilling waste wells exempt from earthquake testing rules,” by Mike Soraghan, E & E Publishing, LLC., March 22, 2012: http://www.eenews.net/stories/1059961795 

“A commission spokeswoman said inspectors visited one of the disposal wells in the area and found it in compliance with agency rules. But agency rules don't address earthquakes.” [Excerpt from:] “Earthquakes: Texas agency doubtful as it investigates link to drilling-waste injection,” by Mike Soraghan, E & E Publishing, LLC., December 18, 2013: http://www.eenews.net/stories/1059992009 

“Yet another earthquake, the 30th since November 1, rattles Azle Monday morning,” by Robert Wilonsky, The Scoop Blog, Dallasnews, December 23, 2013: http://thescoopblog.dallasnews.com/2013/12/yet-another-quake-the-30th-since-nov-1-rattles-azle-monday-morning.html/ 

“Along with the cracks, the nail heads appear to be popping out of the sheet rock, and Kim believes the quakes feel stronger upstairs, hence the cracks in the walls.” [Excerpt from:] “More earthquakes hit near Azle,” updated December 23, 2013, by James Rose, KDFW Fox 4, [Includes news video and article]: http://www.myfoxdfw.com/story/24285588/33-earthquake-hits-azle-again 

“Continued Shaking Has Texans Considering Earthquake Insurance,” December 23, 2013, by Bud Gillett, CBS 11 News, http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2013/12/23/continued-shaking-has-texans-considering-earthquake-insurance/#.UrnAR4zb7kI.twitter 

Scientific American’s Top 10 Science Stories of 2013,” by The Editors, December 19, 2013, Scientific American [see Number 7: “Confirmed: Fracking and Related Operations Cause Earthquakes,”] http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=top-10-science-stories-2013&page=5     

“Fracking firm Cuadrilla pulls out of Lancashire ‘quake’ site,” BBC News Lancashire, December 17, 2013: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-25415187      

See election results here:  Mahoning County Board of Elections:  http://vote.mahoningcountyoh.gov/ November, 2013 election results:  http://vote.mahoningcountyoh.gov/election-information-results/local-election-results/ See May 7 election results here:  http://vote.mahoningcountyoh.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/13p-official.pdf  

Additional Important Information:
[Video with English subtitles:]
“Pope Francis unmissable interview by film director Fernando E. Solanas, Cinesur, SA, YouTube, “Published on Dec 13, 2013
Multi award winning film director and argentinian senator Fernando E. Solanas made this amazing interview where Pope Francis talks about environment contamination unemployment and culture. Please help us. Sign in www.argentinasinfracking.org “  at:
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAX4mrhw0zw
Pope Francis interview video In Spanish without subtitles, “Imperdible entrevista al Papa Francisco por Pino Solanas,” Cinesur SA, “published on November 27, 2013,   is at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1DyLbmOBSU 

“Debate over fracking,” “…series of stories from Catholic News Service …” Catholic Courier, posted December 11, 2013, Updated: December 18, 2013 at: http://www.catholiccourier.com/in-depth/previous-topics/debate-over-fracking/    

“Straight talk – Pennsylvanians speak out to Governor Corbett about fra …” Delaware Riverkeeper Network: YoTube video, January 9, 2013: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VhDXNEEVCs  

[The Texas Tribune] “Fort Worth Sues Driller, Citing Millions in Lost Royalties,” by Jim Malewitz, published December 21, 2013, The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/22/us/fort-worth-sues-driller-citing-millions-in-lost-royalties.html?smid=fb-share&_r=3&    

For media inquiries or more information, or to volunteer to help the local efforts, please contact the group via Frackfree Mahoning Valley at:  234-201-0402  
or  e-mail:  frackfreemahoning@gmail.com  
                                                          
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