For Immediate Release: March 17, 2014
Contact: Jane Spies: Phone: 330-619-0730 or 234-201-0402 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Susie Beiersdorfer: Phone: 234-201-0402 or 330-881-1050 or E-mail: email@example.com
SUMMARY: MARCH 17 IS THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIRST 2011 EARTHQUAKES WIDELY REPORTED IN YOUNGSTOWN. FRACKFREE MAHONING VALLEY (FFM), A GROUP OF CONCERNED CITIZENS, RELEASES A STATEMENT REGARDING TWELVE, NEW, MARCH, 2014, YOUNGSTOWN – AREA EARTHQUAKES THAT OCCURRED NEAR A HORIZONTAL FRACKING OPERATION. FRACKFREE MAHONING VALLEY CALLS FOR THE OHIO DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES (ODNR) TO IMMEDIATELY RELEASE ALL RECORDS AND DATA TO INDEPENDENT SCIENTISTS AND TO THE PUBLIC TO HELP DETERMINE THE CAUSE OF THE 12 EARTHQUAKES AND TO ENSURE THAT THE HEALTH, SAFETY, AND WELL-BEING OF THE PUBLIC IS PROTECTED
Youngstown, Ohio, March 17, 2014 – A Frackfree Mahoning Valley (FFM) statement dated March 17, 2014 regarding the March, 2014, Youngstown-area earthquakes follows:
Frackfree Mahoning Valley (FFM) says that Ohio must have an independent, scientific investigation of the cause of twelve, March, 2014 Youngstown – area earthquakes that occurred near a horizontal fracking operation. FFM says that this investigation must take place in order to ensure that the community’s public health, safety, and well-being are protected.
Frackfree Mahoning Valley says that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) should not be solely in charge of the investigation based upon their track record in handling the 2011 series of injection well-related earthquakes that led to the now-famous 4.0 magnitude earthquake of December 31, 2011, that was reported as felt in Youngstown, several surrounding states, and as far away as Canada. ODNR should immediately release and publicly share all pertinent data, which is related to the new earthquake activity in Poland Township, Mahoning County, with independent scientists who are also studying, or want to study, these 2014 earthquakes. The data should also be immediately shared with the public to ensure transparency and accountability. Publicly releasing this data will also enable members of the public with expertise in this area to come forward with helpful information.
Based upon ODNR’s track record in handling the 2011 earthquake swarm that led to the now-famous 4.0 magnitude earthquake and other failures and lack of transparency by ODNR, we do not have confidence that ODNR can conduct a competent study of the March, 2014 Poland Township earthquakes in an impartial and transparent way that ensures that the best interest of the public will be the first priority.
We believe that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) mishandled the first series of Youngstown-area induced seismic activity in 2011, which we now know, due to a later scientific study, that it was a series of 109 earthquakes, not just the 12 or so largest quakes that we were aware of at that time. The 4.0 magnitude Youngstown earthquake, which scientists have linked to fracking waste injection, occurred on December 31, 2011.
ODNR was not proactive in handling the earthquakes of 2011. ODNR initially denied the connection between the multiple Youngstown-area earthquakes and deep fracking waste injection at the Northstar 1 well even as late as November 7, 2011, when state ODNR geologist Tom Tomastik told a media outlet that “there is no link between earthquakes and injection well”, according to a Vindicator Time Line cited below. The state geologist said this despite the fact that earthquakes had started on March 17, 2011. Also from the same Vindicator article, referring to the date of November 15, 2011, “Until this point, no substantial evidence-gathering took place … .” Astonishingly, ODNR permitted increased pressure at the injection well despite the fact that several earthquakes had already occurred. For more details please see the time line of events at the following url:
“Earthquake Time line,” Vindicator, March 16, 2012:
We cannot afford to risk a replay of how ODNR handled the previous series of 109 earthquakes in 2011. There is too much at stake for our community. We do not trust that ODNR can carry out a proper study in a transparent way that allows adequate public, media, and scientific scrutiny. There are already signs that ODNR is not being open or transparent with the public as evidenced by the following quote from a Columbus Dispatch article of March 16, 2014:
“Questions about the area’s geology and drilling went unanswered last week by ODNR officials and several state geologists, who said they were told not to comment.”
The previous quote is from “Scientists study Ohio’s quakes, fracking,” The Columbus Dispatch, March 16, 2014, by Will Drabold:
This begs the question: Who is telling state geologists not to comment and why?
Furthermore, how can a state agency properly regulate an industry from which it receives money? Isn’t that a conflict of interest? One example of this is that the state of Ohio makes money from the deep injection of in-state and out-of-state fracking waste, according to the following NBC4i.com report of May 23, 2012. A quote from that report follows:
"Ohio charges in-state drillers 5 cents a barrel, and out-of-state drillers 20 cents a barrel to dispose of drilling waste in Ohio."
“NBC4 Investigates: What’s In The Drilling Waste Water Traveling Into Ohio?” May 23, 2012 at:
We believe that there are already reasons to be concerned about ODNR’s lack of transparency and inability to conduct a proper investigation of the current earthquake situation. For example, as reported in the Columbus Dispatch (3/13/14), the necessary equipment to collect seismic data relevant to earthquake depth that would help to determine the precise cause of the recent earthquakes had not yet been deployed by the state. Why the apparent delay? If not yet deployed, when does the state plan to gather the necessary data, or are they planning on trying to collect the data?
See: “Stakes high in mystery over fracking, quakes,” by Will Drabold, The Columbus Dispatch, March 13, 2014 at:
Although it seemed that ODNR had ordered all operations to halt, now we learn that, according to a Columbus Dispatch article dated March 14, 2014, ODNR spokesman Mark Bruce said: “Hilcorp Energy Co.’s one producing fracking well at the Republic Services Carbon Limestone Landfill remains in operation.” (Columbus Dispatch, 3/14/14)
These gaps in information do not inspire confidence in ODNR’s handing of this situation. If ODNR is not being upfront and truthful with the public, or if they are not providing all relevant information, how are independent scientists and the community going to be able to figure out what is really going on with the earthquakes?
The above quote is from: “Mahoning County well continues to extract oil, gas despite concerns,” by Will Drabold, The Columbus Dispatch, March 14, 2014 at:
This earthquake situation is not about politics. It is about allowing independent scientists to learn what is causing the earthquakes and to do their work without unnecessary obstacles. It is about the public as stakeholders in what happens as a result of the investigation. It is about a community of people and families seeking to preserve our chosen way of life. It is our quality of life, the democratic process and the public health, safety, and well-being that are at stake here. Therefore, the public and independent scientists need to have immediate access to all of the records, logs, and data that ODNR has.
Also concerning is that ODNR tried to rule out injection well operations in relation to the new earthquake activity saying that the closest active injection well is 14 miles away from the Poland Township fracking operation, according to the Columbus Dispatch (3/13/14). Yet, according to the same Columbus Dispatch article, U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist, Arthur McGarr said “… long-term disposal can cause temblors as far as 15 miles away. Even closed wells could cause earthquakes, he said.” (Columbus Dispatch, 3/13/14)
The previous quotes are from: “Stakes high in mystery over fracking, quakes,” by Will Drabold, The Columbus Dispatch, March 13, 2014 at:
It is now known that they were 12 earthquakes in March, 2014, if they are all counted. The Columbus Dispatch reported on March 14, 2014, that ODNR’s spokesman Mark Bruce said, “… the additional earthquakes that Columbia monitored were incidental.” Furthermore, the Columbus Dispatch quotes ODNR spokesman Mark Bruce as writing: “ ‘Ohio’s increased monitoring network records micro-seismic events that happen around the state almost daily (and) are not felt, ‘ he wrote in an email.” (Columbus Dispatch, 3/14/14)
According to the same article, Columbia University senior scientist Won Young-Kim said “… they are significant and that a connection is likely.” (Columbus Dispatch, 3/14/14).
The above quotes are from: “More quakes reported near fracking well,” by Will Drabold, The Columbus Dispatch, March 14, 2014, at:
We believe that Bruce’s statement about “micro-seismic events” in Ohio could have major implications for scientists’ ability to gain access to crucial data that could help to clarify possible connections between Ohio wells and induced earthquakes, even those that are not felt at the surface. We say that if ODNR has data regarding other Ohio “micro-seismic events,” that are happening as frequently as Bruce is quoted as saying, this data also must be made immediately available to the public and to independent scientists since it could provide information that could help in the current investigation and also help to determine whether other fracking or injection well operations across Ohio might be correlated with micro-seismic events.
How will we know what the situation really is regarding earthquakes if we do not have effective methods in place to look, or we simply do not look closely using the methods we do have in place?
The community must not be deprived of the information that they need to make informed decisions about earthquakes, fracking, and related processes. Important questions need to be answered and information shared with the public, such as:
Could the 3.0 magnitude earthquake that occurred in Mahoning County on March 10, 2014 near the fracking operation have damaged the well?
For background on the latter question, please see: Dr. Anthony Ingraffea and Dr. Terry Engelder: Video published on YouTube, February 10, 2013, “4/4 Q & A Hydrofracking Debate in Dundee,” :
Especially see starting at 8 minutes 57 seconds re earthquakes and fracking at:
According to a Los Angeles Times article by Paresh Dave, titled “Ohio earthquakes rattle up concerns about fracking” (March 12, 2014):
“‘The epicenters are right where they are doing the work,’ Ray Beiersdorfer, a Youngstown State University geology professor whose wife co-founded Frackfree America, told the Los Angeles Times. ‘There had never been any earthquakes in this county until these wells starting coming in, so it seems suspect.’ “
These are just some of the latest reasons why we have no confidence in ODNR’s ability to conduct a transparent, responsible, impartial, and scientific investigation of the cause of the most recent earthquakes. Therefore, if ODNR is reluctant to share information that impartial scientists need access to or fails to deploy the required seismometers in a timely fashion, we are asking for an attorney willing to help pro bono to please come forward to help us to ensure that the data and records are released in a timely fashion to independent scientists and to the public.
Also of concern to Frackfree Mahoning Valley, is a shocking document, from 2012, that reportedly may be a state plan to promote fracking in state parks and forests to Ohioans. State officials are denying that the plan has been implemented. Under the “Pertinent State Policies” section, it stated: “No oil and gas drilling is permitted that would cause surface disturbance on land within state parks. Drilling may be permitted underneath inland state park land and waters.”
The 2012 document named allied groups, neutral groups, and opposition groups or individuals. In addition, the “frackgate” plan, as some refer to it, still has not been adequately publicly scrutinized to see who in fact wrote it or was told to write it, who discussed it, and whether it was implemented. The states’ possible involvement in a meeting or internal discussions on taxpayer-paid time regarding this promotional plan is concerning.
If further scrutiny of the “frackgate” situation proves that state or ODNR officials or employees or agencies were seeking to “marginalize” or discredit the message of valid public health concerns and to mislabel or to discredit the messengers, then we believe that ODNR cannot do their job, which is to protect the public health, safety, and well-being. ODNR’s job is not to prejudge and outright dismiss legitimate grievances made by Ohioans. Further investigation of this plan and the documents that were uncovered are necessary to uncover the truth about what really happened.
[A PDF of the “frackgate” memo, as some are calling it, and other pertinent information can be found in the following article:]
“Kasich’s office reportedly involved in 2012 Ohio report to promote fracking in state parks, forests,” by Bob Downing, Beacon Journal staff writer, February 17, 2014 at:
“Kasich aides said to mull targeting drilling foes,” by Julie Carr Smyth, Associated Press, as published on Ohio.com, February 18, 2014:
Earthquakes, even small earthquakes, are nothing to toy with. This is not about politics. It is about science and public health. It is our lives, our health, and our quality of life in our communities and our children’s and grandchildren’s quality of life that is at stake here. We must do everything possible to ensure their well-being now and into the future.
Please see the following links for more information. Contact information for Frackfree Mahoning Valley is provided below and at: http://www.frackfreemahoning.blogspot.com
Frackfree America National Coalition, based in Youngstown, Ohio: www.frackfreeamerica.org
“Ohio's earthquake average since 2010 has risen,” Associated Press, March 16, 2014, as published at the WFMJ-TV website: http://www.wfmj.com/story/24988520/ohios-earthquake-average-since-2010-has-risen
“Ohio Looks at Whether Fracking Led to 2 Quakes,” by Henry Fountain, New York Times, March 11, 2014 at:
Please also see 2 news videos with the following 2012 article:
“Threat of Lawsuit Over California’s Controversial Oil Drilling Hundreds of wells being fracked in California,” August 29, 2012, NBC Bay Area, by Stephen Stock, Liza Meak, and Mark Villarreal at:
“Ohio earthquakes rattle up concerns about fracking,” by Paresh Dave, March 12, 2014, Los Angeles Times:
“Researcher Says Mahoning Earthquakes Are Likely Linked to Shale Drilling,” March 14, 2014, Ideastream report by Andy Chow: [An excerpt from the Ideastream report follows:]
“The Ohio Department of Natural Resources declined an interview for this story.”
“Kasich said state officials continue reviewing earthquake date … ,” The Vindicator, March 15, 2014, by Marc Kovac at: http://www.vindy.com/news/2014/mar/15/kasich-earthquake-data-review-will-conti/ Earthquake information on the Frackfree America National Coalition, based in Youngstown, Ohio, website:
[Excerpt from url below:]
“--More Ohio Inspectors? – According to an Earthworks report: “Perhaps even mores striking, data in the table reveal that in 2010 Ohio failed to perform inspections at 91 percent of the state’s active oil and gas wells. More than 58,000 oil and gas wells had no regulatory oversight that year. The situation did not improve in 2011. That year, approximately 90% of wells did not get inspected. …” The latter excerpt is from: “Ohio Oil & Gas Enforcement – Inspections,” by Earthworks.
What has happened since 2011 regarding inspections? Is ODNR really able to adequately inspect even with the recent addition of more inspectors? We don’t think so.
Go to http://www.earthworksaction.org/and Search at the top for keywords Ohio Inspections to find the report.”
“Mahoning Valley group troubled by well at Meander Reservoir,” January 20, 2014,
“Who’s at Fault?” by Mike Costarella, vindy.com, March 13, 2012:
PDF: “Investigation of Observed Seismicity In the Horn River Basin [Canada], BC Oil and Gas Commission, August, 2012 : http://www.bcogc.ca/node/8046/download
For media inquiries, to contact speakers for media interviews, or for more information, please contact Frackfree Mahoning Valley at:
234-201-0402 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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