Fracking image

Recently I've become aware that OSU wants to build a new power plant that runs on fracked gas, and it's got me pretty angry both as a student and as a taxpayer. I’m a third-year undergraduate student at OSU's School of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. The global climate crisis is no new topic to me. I've been hearing about it, its causes (chiefly fossil fuel usage) and its solutions (replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources), since the 1st grade. It's always been a looming problem in my mind but I always assumed that our society would adjust and solve the problem. Evidently, the steering wheel is still in the hands of people who don't feel the same urgency that my generation feels. I enrolled at OSU because I thought of it as a cutting edge research school. I thought it'd be part of the solution to the biggest problems of this era. This proposal has shown me that the reality is much less promising.

I found out from a friend that a hearing about the plant would be open to the public, so I attended it and spoke my mind: I want renewable energy, not a gas-burning plant. At that hearing, I encountered 19 other people who shared my concern, illuminating how the plant makes no sense, neither in the long term or even in the short term. In terms of the environment, it's obviously harmful since methane gas, retrieved by fracking, is being combusted. Financially, the plant would end up being a liability for the university in the long term. In terms of the university's and the city's image, it would be an embarrassment, as other universities and cities across Ohio have recently constructed renewable energy installations and are even embracing pledges to have 100% renewable power in the near future. In terms of public health, it's unconscionable to start burning gas and polluting the air, especially during a respiratory pandemic!

What makes me most upset is the dishonesty the proponents of this plant have engaged in. A fellow student of mine, Mandolyn Newell, who has financially benefited from the oil and gas industry, claims in this letter published in the Dispatch that the majority of OSU students want this gas plant, offering no evidence for this ridiculous claim. Most students don't even know about this plant, since all of these decisions are being pushed through during summer break!

At the hearing, the measly two people in favor of the plant hinged their argument on the idea that, although the plant will initially run on fracked gas, that it will transition to "green hydrogen." This hydrogen technology does not exist and is not guaranteed to exist anytime soon. In addition, the numbers that support the claim that emissions will be reduced by this plant only take into account emissions that are on-site, and ignore the emissions that take place during the fracking process. (In this letter, Cathy Cowan Becker explains a myriad of the holes in the pro-plant argument.)

The arguments for this gas plant are so rickety, and yet the bulk of the scrutiny is being put on the people against the plant. Even though we far outnumber those in favor and have offered far more evidence to support our position, we are not being taken seriously, and the university is attempting to create a narrative that we're just some overzealous, fringe environmentalists who don't represent the majority.

I urge anyone reading this to watch the recording of the hearing (my testimony in particular begins at 2:14:30) to see just what I'm talking about.

If you want to help fight against this plant, please register to speak at the next hearing which will take place on August 4th at 6 PM. You must fill out this form to register by noon on August 3rd to speak at the hearing. If you do not wish to speak, you can also submit written testimony by email at or by mail to Ohio Power Siting Board, 180 E. Broad Street, Columbus Ohio 43215, and be sure to reference case number 19-1641-EL-BGN.