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Bath reader cautious about fracking

4/12/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

Fracking [horizontal hydraulic fracturing] in simple terms is a process in which shale reserves are drilled into thousands of feet underground using sand, water and various chemicals to extract natural gas. There are many of these reserves here in Summit County and surrounding areas.

For months now there have been ongoing talks and meetings about fracking in the Utica shale reserve about 800 acres in the area from Jacoby Road on the east to Cleveland-Massillon Road on the west.

From the research and past history of fracking, there are good aspects as well as bad. We need to carefully measure the benefits and risks and determine what is best.

It has been found that fracking can potentially contaminate groundwater. Some of the chemicals used are harmful and can cause short- and long-term effects to the human body.

Millions of gallons from our local water supply are needed to horizontal hydraulic fracture.

Accidental spills may occur, and the natural gas industry is currently exempted from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.

There have been many cases of illegal dumping into creeks and rivers in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, where fracking has been ongoing.

Property values could be devalued if in a fracking area that doesn’t collect royalties.

The environmental impact if done correctly is minimal, but if done incorrectly without proper safeguards, oversight and procedures can be very detrimental.

So do we trust the companies drilling are taking precautions when big money and returns are involved? History has shown us with the BP oil rig explosion and many other such catastrophes over time, when profits loom large, proper oversight and code adherence often do not.

The fact is the fracking is good economically for big property owners. This cannot be ignored, so to just dismiss the possibilities is not practical for them. For smaller landholders, that may be another matter.

If fracking is to occur, who will oversee that procedures and safeguards are in place at all times and not allow profits to be paramount over safety and environmental impact?

Also that landowners will be protected from proprietary companies seeking their parcels and mineral rights.

Unless we can be assured consistent and stringent safeguards and procedures from an entity outside of the drilling company or companies, fracking or any other extraction method should not be considered.

We need to sift the fact from fiction; the scare tactics from the reality.

Economic gain is important in hard fiscal times, but public safety is just as crucial. Get all the facts before signing any fracking leases.

Patrice Faulhammer, Bath

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