Friday, January 28, 2011

ODNR tries to reassure; crowd wary

I testified last night at this event -- making 3 points.

1. The issue of hydrolic fracking has been framed as a state issue. Yet for years, the decision to drill was a local issue. It was only when local communities began resistance that the oil and gas corporations ran to the state level, contributed/invested in state politicians and passed a law, House Bill 278 in 2004, which stripped local control. [This was quite ironic since many of those in Stark Co and elsewhere who voted for the bill are generally big "local control" advocates.] Corporations don't like people flexing their democratic muscles. HB 278 is illigimate.

2. The Ohio Deparment of Natural Resources (ODNR), the agency established to "regulate" drilling has an inherent conflict of interest. They're hardly a neutral or impartial player since their budget is linked to approving permits to drill -- the more permits they approve, the more money they make. Their new state director, David Mustine, spent most of his career working for oil and gas corporations. He's worked for American Electric Power and Bechtel Industries, specializing in oil and gas ventures. Besides, the solution to this problem is not to "regulate" the harms, the poisions, the threats to community health and safety -- it's to abolish it. The only way to accomplish this is to prevent this controversial and dangerous form of drilling.

3. Respect, honor and trust local communities' right to decide. Those who are being impacted by this decision should have the major role in the shaping of the decision -- not industry, not regulators, but the residents of the area.

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