Farm Advocacy Organization: Fracking Provisions Needs to Be Stronger

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, April 18 2012

Contact: MacKenzie Bailey, 203-545-3909, mackenzie@oeffa.org

As the Ohio legislature discusses proposals that address the controversial practice of “fracking” today, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) argues that the state needs strong regulations to protect the health and well-being of our rural communities.

Currently the legislature is considering Senate Bill 315, which modifies Ohio’s current shale gas drilling regulations. While the bill does make some changes, there is a need for improvement.  For example, the bill now requires a company to disclose chemicals; however, it is only required to report after the completion of a drilling operation and the company can withhold the names of proprietary components in the drilling fluid.

OEFFA, a 3,000 member food and farm advocacy organization, urges Governor Kasich and Ohio legislators to protect our growing sustainable farming communities, small business owners, and rural landowners by incorporating these three specific areas as it looks to regulate the industry:

  • Requiring full public disclosure of chemicals by name used in fracking prior to injection in order to protect the health of Ohioans and help to establish clear lines of traceability if contamination were to occur;
  • Establishing opportunities for citizen participation by making the permitting process transparent and giving landowners more advance notice and adequate opportunities to comment or appeal a decision; and
  • Increasing control at the local level. Ohio law currently gives “sole and exclusive” authority to the state over permitting for oil and gas projects.  This undermines the rights of local government and property owners to determine the future of their communities.

“Sustainable agriculture supports the long-term economic health of our rural communities.  Opportunities for short-term economic prosperity should not and cannot come at the expense of our natural resources,” said MacKenzie Bailey, policy coordinator for OEFFA, “Ohio needs stronger regulations to protect our air, soil, and water and our communities to preserve the integrity of our food and farming systems for generations to come.”

Fracking is a process that uses water, sand, and toxic chemicals injected at high pressure into deep underground shale formations to create explosions that crack the rock and release natural gas.  It poses a potential risk of contamination to our natural resources, which are essential to a thriving food and farming community. Little is known about the long-term impacts of fracking.

Air pollution, and in particular increased levels of ozone, can result in lower crop yields in soybeans, spinach, tomatoes, beans, alfalfa, and other forages. Livestock are attracted to the toxic and salty brine used in fracking and are particularly vulnerable if there is contamination of soil or water.

There are nearly 600 certified organic operations in Ohio and much of the organic pasture and cropland is located in areas of the state containing shale deposits. Water and soil contamination resulting from fracking could jeopardize a farmer or rancher’s organic certification.

###

About OEFFA

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 and is a coalition of farmers, gardeners, consumers, retailers, researchers, and educators who share a desire to build a healthy, sustainable food system. For more than 30 years, OEFFA has used education, advocacy, and grassroots organizing to promote local and organic food systems, helping farmers and consumers reconnect and together build a sustainable food system, one meal at a time. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.