Many people posing outside holding signs about the environment

In a symbolic gesture, proactive residents of Ashland, Holmes and Richland County temporarily blocked access to an exploratory well pad under construction in Green Township, Ashland County, Ohio. The horizontal drilling being conducted by Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation is extremely unwanted and unwelcome. The vast majority of folks who live here, about 98% according to door to door polling, are against this type of extractive industrialization in this north central Ohio country community known for beautiful scenery, rural farming and the millions of visitors  who have come to enjoy outdoor recreation in the area’s two state parks, Malabar farm and Mohican.

Last December several grass roots groups formed to educate the public about the change in conditions that will come from drilling activity of this type- increased truck traffic, water withdrawal from local water sources, deforestation and drilling activity 24 hours a day for weeks on end. Local legislators hands are tied in the effort to protect citizens, bound by state and federal law which has been drafted by pro-industry organizations such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), bought by lobbying money and voted into law in favor of oil and gas drilling operations. In fact, not one single landowner in the area of this horizontal well had any say in the matter of industrializing their community. The sub-surface mineral rights were held by Ohio Fuel Gas Company, a now defunct business that preceded Columbia Gas and Cabot was able to obtain a permit with just 136 acres claimed for drilling, according to the permit on file at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Columbia Gas Transmission LLC owns the majority of sub-surface rights to around 4,000 feet due to the fact that this entire three county area sits above a massive gas storage field used to store excess resources during the summer and withdraw them during peak need times. All of this is changing with the exportation of American resources out of country. TransCanada acquired Columbia in 2016 and is in the process of replacing the 16 inch pipeline around the drilling site, so in addition to the massive drilling pad being built on this rural road, wooded residential lots are being clear cut for the pipeline right of way in preparation for major excavation activities to begin soon

Recently in a historic vote, the Monroe Township Trustees, (Monroe Township is approximately one mile down the road in Richland County), passed a non-binding resolution that acknowledges that landowners DO have rights. Nevertheless, with the majority of locals against this activity, here comes Cabot Oil and TransCanada with their desires for dirty fossil fuel profits leaving the people with very little choice in this process. They are not standing idly by...

Monday evening they gathered at Malabar State Farm and listened briefly to presentation about becoming citizen advocates and how it was now up to them to monitor and report the activities of these outside and unwelcome corporations. They received a full page contact list of contact resources of local authorities all the way up to the Governor and Federal Representatives. They have been tasked to report any activity that they felt was in violation of their rights or is creating a danger to them. Then a caravan of over 20 vehicles was assembled and everyone traveled en mass to the well site where they were met by a newly arrived security detail, RIP Security based out of Pennsylvania. Along the route were numerous “No Fracking” and large “Stop Fracking” signs, including a large banner erected on the bank of the Blackfork River, where Cabot has purchased land for the free withdrawal of 4.5 million gallons of the communities freshwater resources. “Free” according to the Muskinghum Watershed Conservancy District and the State of Ohio... as long as an entity owns land bordering a waterway and doesn’t impact activity downstream they can withdraw a substantial amount of water daily. This water will be infused with dangerous chemicals creating "fracking fluid" which is highly toxic and can never be returned to the earth's hydrological system.

Eventually the caravan arrived on site and occupied the roadway area in front of the well site. Numerous area residents arrived as well, having heard about the activity to take place. A young and very polite guard from RIP security immediately came and met the head organizer, and set a friendly tone. Eventually the President and Corporate Counsel for the security firm showed up to address the attendees. It was a very civil demonstration however there were several (understandably) emotional outbursts by the community caretakers who are knowledgeable about what is coming and aghast that this could be allowed in this beautiful, rural area.

It seems a reasonable assurance that residents will continue to make a strong stand against Cabot, TransCanada and the myriad of out of state contractors who have little or no regard for the continuing peace and prosperity of the region. True courage was exhibited by the large group that turned out to welcome Cabot to the area and the message was loud and clear “NO THANKS CABOT, PEOPLE OVER DIRTY PROFITS!”

(This is part  of 3 in a series detailing Cabot Oil’s practices. Part 1 “COLA Fizzles OUT” : http://columbusfreepress.com/article/cola-fizzles-out )

Part 2 "Tri-County Coalition of Landowners Say “NO” to Cabot Oil": https://columbusfreepress.com/article/tri-county-coalition-landowners-say-%E2%80%9Cno%E2%80%9D-cabot-oil

The resolution in full:

“A RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT LANDOWNERS RIGHTS IN MONROE TOWNSHIP WHICH INCLUDES THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO CLEAN WATER RESOURCES AND SUPPORTING THE PASSAGE OF SB 50, WHICH PROHIBITS THE INJECTION OF OILFIELD WASTE VIA CLASS 2 INJECTION WELLS.

WHEREAS, Monroe Township, Richland County, Ohio recognizes that water is essential for life, prosperity, sustainability and health of township citizens; and

WHEREAS, The unconventional extraction process known as “horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing” used to extract mineral resources from deep shale layers has the potential to pollute water aquifers and ground surface areas; and

WHEREAS, The process known as “deep injection waste wells” used to inject produced fluids/brine/fracturing flow back waste under extreme pressure in wells several thousands of feet in the earth can potentially pollute water aquifers and potentially trigger earthquake activity; and

WHEREAS, The fluids used in these processes contain chemicals, the identity of which often remains unknown; and

WHEREAS, All aspects of this process may pose a risk of contamination of the ground water and aquifers; and

WHEREAS, Monroe Township, Richland County, has a legitimate interest in the protection of aquifers and groundwater resources within the township; and

WHEREAS, In the absence of an inforce Road Use Management Agreement, the mass trucking of chemicals and equipment by use of Township roads possess a substantial risk of damage to Township roads; and

WHEREAS, The Ohio Legislature has vested complete authority over the permitting, location and spacing of vertical and horizontal extraction wells and deep well injection waste wells (including enhanced recovery wells) and all other production operations within the State in the Division of Mineral Resource Management, leaving the Township with minimal oversight authority: and

NOW THEREFORE IT BE RESOLVED  the Monroe Township, Richland County, Ohio calls on Ohio Legislature and the Governor to take all appropriate actions to ensure the safety and sustainability of aquifers and groundwater located within the township. This would include the completion of environmental studies outlining the long term environmental effects of the chemical/materials in the above stated practice.

The Fiscal Officer of Monroe Township, Richland County, Ohio is hereby authorized to forward a duly attested copy of this Resolution to the Office of John Kasich, Governor of the State opf Ohio and the Ohio Legislature.

Resolution passed by the Monroe Township Board of Trustees, Richland County, Ohio this 16th day of April, 2018.”

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