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Ohio bans injection wells near D&L site in Youngstown

Published: Sun, January 1, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.








The Mahoning Valley ended 2011 with a deafening bang.

The new year promises to be more quiet.

After a 4.0 magnitude earthquake struck shortly after 3 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Ohio banned injection wells within five miles of a Youngstown brine-injection well suspected of causing 11 earthquakes this year.

“Public safety is paramount in our decision-making in this process. Our top concern is for the health and safety of our residents,” said Gov. John Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols.

The ban will keep the much-debated Youngstown well shuttered, along with four others, until further notice.

Saturday’s temblor rattled residents from Cortland to Canton to Canfield. It was felt to the northern boundary of Trumbull County, in the Shenango Valley in Pennsylvania, even as far as Buffalo, N.Y.

The earthquake was originally determined to be centered near Oregon and Florida avenues in McDonald, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. However, the epicenter was later revised to state Route 711 near the Mahoning River, near the D&L injection well.

It is the 11th quake in the Valley this year.

Andy Ware, deputy director at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said that Mike Hansen, state seismologist, was looking at the data Saturday.

Hansen said there could be more earthquakes as it could take days or weeks for the underground brine pressure to subside.

The quake shook up state Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-60th, who renewed his call for a stop to drilling.

“I’m calling on the governor for an immediate moratorium on all drilling in the state of Ohio,” Hagan told The Vindicator on Saturday. “This is just getting out of hand. You can’t have 11 earthquakes and just say it’s natural.”

Hagan was ironing his son’s shirt for his New Year’s Eve party when the quake struck.

“We thought somebody fell down the stairs with a dresser,” he said. “We ran out, looked around, and I said ‘That was an earthquake.’”

Mitchell Gold of the Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismic Network from Columbia University, said the 4.0 earthquake had a preliminary depth of about 2.2 kilometers. However, by about 8 p.m., the USGS had revised that figure to 5 km (3.1 miles).

Gold said it could take days to gather data from seismic stations and

determine the exact location and depth.

The quake came one day after the state ordered D&L Energy Inc. to shut down a brine-injection well in Youngstown. That well injects brine, a byproduct of fracking, about 9,300 feet into the ground.

The brine’s target formation is the Mt. Simon Sandstone, a permeable layer just above the Precambrian formation, also known as the crust, or bedrock.

Ray Beiersdorfer, a geology professor at Youngstown State University, said that brine water injected deep into the ground can act as a lubricant between underground formations. Under normal circumstances, the formations are held together by the weight of the formations above and by the force of gravity. But add the brine as a lubricant, and those formations — in this instance the Mt. Simon and Precambrian — can then shift on top of each other, causing an earthquake.

It is not known if the D&L well caused any of the earthquakes, but the state on Friday told D&L to cease operations to run radioactive tests and plug the bottom 250 feet of the well.

That injection well is suspected of being the source of the previous 10 earthquakes, which had magnitudes between 2.1 and 2.8.

Many who are against injection wells, however, see the latest quake as a wake-up call.

“Now everybody understands how big of a deal this is,” said Mike Costarella, a Girard resident, who has closely followed the earthquakes since the first two occurred in March.

Saturday’s quake is not the largest in Ohio history. In 2001, the state felt a magnitude 4.5 tremor in Ashtabula County.

In McDonald, which officials originally believed to be the epicenter, Brandon Thomas was working at Ianazone’s Pizza on Liberty Street.

“The whole building shook. It was quick but long enough to knock stuff off the shelves and the lights flickered,” he said, adding employees thought something had hit the building or a gas line had exploded.

McDonald police officer Dan Supera was outside the police station when the quake hit and felt the tremors. Police officers and firefighters began answering calls about the quake, but no serious damage had been reported as of about 4 p.m.

At the Mahoning Avenue Sparkle Market on Youngstown’s West Side, workers thought a New Year’s Eve reveler imbibed too much, too early, and crashed into the building.

“We heard a big boom and then the building shook. I thought a car hit the building and everyone went running outside,” said Jeanie Heginbotham, assistant head cashier at Sparkle.

When there was no car and no other apparent cause for such a loud boom and shaking sensation, workers and customers realized it must be an earthquake.

“Cans fell off the shelves and the register was shaking,” Heginbotham said.

The belief that a truck or a car had hit their building or house was a prevailing theme for people surprised by the feel — and sound — of the quake.

“It was a shocker,” said McDonald Councilman Richard Harvey, who lives on Pennsylvania Avenue. “It was very loud,” he added, likening the noise to an explosion.

“It felt like a car or truck ran into the house,” he said, adding that pictures fell off the wall in his home. “I’ll never forget that sound.”

April Kendra, who lives on Hickory Trace in Girard near the Golf Dome, said she was teaching a gymnastics class to seven girls ages 10 to 12 at her home when the quake struck.

“They were scared, freaked out,” she said. “It was just crazy.”

Kendra said the sound was hard to describe.

“I heard a rumble, almost like thunder,” she said. “One girl said, ‘It sounds like somebody rammed the front of your house.’”

Niles Councilman Ed Stredney, who represents the 3rd Ward, said the quake rattled open his kitchen cupboards.

Disptach centers in Mahoning and Trumbull counties reported no major damage. Bricks fell off a chimney at a house on Indiana Avenue in McDonald, the Trumbull dispatch center said.

The Mahoning County center said it fielded about 40 calls in 10 minutes, but damage was minor, with people reporting lamps and glasses falling off tables in Poland and Austintown.

In Mercer, Pa., the dispatch center said the quake was not felt there. But farther west in the Shenango Valley, people in Sharon, Farrell and West Middlesex felt it and called to report their houses were shaking.

In downtown Youngstown, the entire police station shook, personnel there reported.

Sean McKinney, the city’s building and grounds commissioner, said the only damage to city buildings found so far is cracked windows at 20 Federal Place, which was hosting First Night festivities Saturday evening.

McKinney said his staff walked through buildings Saturday after the quake and will do so again today and next week.

Among those attending First Night events, some said they didn’t even feel the quake. But others, including former Hawaii resident Julie Grassley, said the intensity of it frightened her group.

Grassley, who lives in the Idora Park neighborhood on Youngstown’s South Side, said she went through a 6.7 quake in Hawaii when she was a teenager, and Saturday’s quake was a scare.

“I started screaming,” said Grassley, who remembered “having to hold on to something or you were being thrown across the room” during the Hawaii quake.

Youngstown Councilman Mike Ray told The Vindicator that council will call an informational meeting about the D&L Energy deep injection well on Ohio Works Drive.

Officials said Saturday that the need for jobs creation that brine wells could bring has to be balanced with caution over the risk that it may have caused the series of earthquakes this past year.

Niles Councilman Stredney said that the Mahoning Valley really needs the jobs that come with the wells.

“But there has to be a safe way to do it,” he said. “My worry becomes, now, it’s [4.0 on the Richter Scale] — what if it goes to 6 or 8?”

McDonald Councilman Harvey said people in his community are “just feeling cautious.”

“There’s a lot of questions, and money gets ahead of caution sometimes,” he said.

McDonald Mayor Glenn Holmes said he spoke to state Rep. Sean O’Brien, D-65th, who contacted a representative of the governor’s office “immediately.”

“Stop everything until you figure it out,” he said.


1howardinyoungstown(591 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago


There is more to the story about why ODNR is issuing a ban.

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2craigd(7 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

My wife and our neighbors got the city of Warren to place a moratorium on gas well drilling 2 years ago. This is not something new. Earthquakes have been happening for years all across the country near the injection wells; Ohio is not the first. There is a history. The laws that are in place are a joke. Our officials refuse to see what has already happened in Arkansas, Texas, and Wyoming to mention a few. Jobs and money is great, but if people flee the area for fear of water contamination and earthquakes those jobs don't mean anything. It took 10 earthquakes to finally get attention and an 11th for action to happen? Sad part is the oil and gas companies own that land once its signed away, and once they do their pockets are deep; Don't see this stoppage lasting long.

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3UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Stop the deep injection wells and fracking before it destroys us here in Ohio!

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4WHATSSHAKIN(42 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

With the help and guidance of Bob Hagan we will see this through. The mental anguish caused by this earthquake has been devastating to many.

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5howardinyoungstown(591 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

There are some people who claim that injection wells have never caused earthquakes before, some qualify that statement by limiting it to Ohio. Well I wish to provide some facts on the issue. Please read this article from GeoScienceWorld

A comprehensive Internet resource for research and communications in the geosciences, built on a core database aggregation of peer-reviewed journals indexed, linked, and interoperable with GeoRef.

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6GnomeMad(22 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm not opposed to fracking or injection wells, per se -- we do need the jobs and revenues -- but I'm extremely bothered and concerned with the way the drilling companies and state officials are going about it.

Eleven earthquakes in 9 months -- all centered around this particular injection well and all occurring after the well went into operation -- in an area that rarely experiences any noticeable seismic activity... I'm sorry, but this can't just be a coincidence. And as for a state official to dismiss out-of-hand even the possibility that the well could be to blame -- I smell corruption.

I only speak for myself, but I imagine most members of our community would have a much more positive view and be much more supportive of this emerging industry IF the government and the companies involved would slow things down so that a thorough and truly independent study could be conducted to explore *all* potential environmental impacts -- big and small -- and release the results (good *and* bad) of that study publicly and transparently. Let us know who performed the study. Let us know how they came to their conclusions. Let us know who paid for the study.

Yesterday's quake should be a wake up call for all of us. It may or may not be related to the injection well, but until we know for sure I think it best to err on the side of caution and safety.

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7WHATSSHAKIN(42 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

We need to get Bob Hagan invigorated with our support. He has vision and can chart the course for us. All drilling nationwide needs to be stopped. Shutting down all of the mills manufacturing pipe for the drilling industry needs to take top priority. Right now federal aid is needed to heal the psychological and material devastation caused by this earthquake.

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8NoBS(2510 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

The land is shaking like that because the Founding Fathers are rolling over in their graves, over what's become of this nation.

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9GnomeMad(22 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

I read something the other day where the D&L guy was saying each day they're shut down the company loses $160,000. I'm assuming that since he referred to it as a "loss", that figure represents net income after expenses. I did the math and that works out to $58.4 million per year. No wonder they're so adamant that their well has nothing to do with the increase in seismic activity.

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10CordaydArmont(2 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

M 4.0, Youngstown-Akron urban area, Ohio
Saturday, December 31, 2011 03:05:01 PM at epicenter

Depth: 5.00 km (3.11 mi).

The fracking is occurring at less than 1.8 miles. The depth precludes any possibility of the fracturing fluids having anything to do with the quake. . This is total scare mongering propaganda from the Orwellian Ministry of Truth.

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11card64inmyrtle(26 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Any thing for a buck.....whattayagonnado

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12whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

AAAAAhhhhhhhh Ocean Front Property...

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13redvert(2212 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

WHATSSHAKIN aka BOB, how is it going, were you using spray starch?

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142muchtax(792 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Why don't our politicians just do what the PA politicians do, just copy what they do because they make much better decisions. Examples:
1. no deep water injection wells allowed
2. Drivers must prove they have car insurance, not just lie and sign. This is a joke Hagan n Ryan!
3. Allowed 3 semi trailers in ohio behind one truck, but must drop one in PA.
Just a couple examples for Hagan n Ryan to look into

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15apollo(1227 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

First off, the depth of the quake was NOT 3 miles down as a previous poster said. CNN says 1.4 miles down. Secondly, you've got an area with no major faults suddenly becoming like California only the quakes are less severe. To make the claim that there is no correlation between the brine well and these quakes is scurrilous. The timing and proximity alone are enough to make a connection. What they should do is make the CEO of D & L Energy build and live in a home with his family within 100 yards of the well. If he refuses, then we know the answer.

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16WhatRUAfraidOf(85 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Even if multiple, credible scientific studies were to prove there is no correlation between the well and the earthquakes (which I have a hard time believing at this point given the existing evidence), there are people who would deny their veracity.

It's kind of like half the moronic far-right wing nuts saying there is no scientific evidence for global warming, in spite of overwhelming empirical evidence to the contrary.

I would love to see some studies done by geologists from the USGS, YSU, or KSU, with statistical analysis presented, to make up my own mind one way or another. If a preponderance of professional, unbiased opinion indicated that the wells were not directly involved in the earthquakes, I would tend to believe that. If scientific study indicated that the wells are, in fact, responsible, even in part for the earthquakes, then I think we need to find a better way to extract the gas without using fracking to fill in the empty space after the gas is extracted.

It would be great if the Vindicator would actually publish the results of studies conducted according to the scientific method by independent geologists, along with the supporting data, but my guess is that is asking a LOT!

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17MARGEOMATIC(128 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

just keep the Meth Labs in operation...

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18ondaedg(19 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago


Geologists are saying the wells are causing it. Scientists from Columbia Univ are saying the wells are causing it. And MULTIPLE studies prove that deep hydraulic drilling causes earthquakes. But since you think it's "scare mongering" by "Orwelians", well that's good enough for me. Look everyone, cordayarmont has it all figured out!

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19SheepleHerder(22 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Here's another from the "Times" another far right wing neo con publication that further drives home my point.


“It’s true that you can’t have an earthquake larger than a given fault can provide,” said Serge Shapiro, a professor at the Free University of Berlin who has studied what scientists refer to as induced seismicity. “But an earthquake even of magnitude 4 in a populated area can be an unpleasant thing.”

The benefit to risk ratio is by far in our favor and as long as we keep our heads.

I can live with a little rumble here and there in exchange for several thousand new jobs and the potential for energy independence from the middle east.

You Liberals can hug all the trees you want but the fact remains that this is the greatest economic event to happen to this area since the steel industry went belly up.

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20southsidedave(5172 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Finally, Ohio bans injection...why did it take such a long time???? Greed before safety.

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21chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Query if the earthquakes are such an issue, why aren't the seismographs at YSU instead of at a east coast liberal university over 400 miles away. (A liberal uiversity where B.O. went to school and with an anti business, pro enviroment agenda. to boot). Any coincidence that c.u. revised the results of yesterday's quake to put it closer to the injection well site. Maybe D&L should invest in equipment to let YSU's geology department monitor the situation.

Rep. Hagan and others want to ban fracking when the facts don't show that fracking is the problem. It may be true that injecting the waste brine acts as a lubricant as the YSU professor says. maybe the 8/24 Virginia quake caused the plates here to shift

Youngstown is making headway and everyone is screaming for a moratorium.

Where is Timmie Ryan's opinion and leadership in this matter??????

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22DrWhere(2 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

So much misguided and false statements in the comments and a few sane ones.

1. What credibility does CNN have to make their statement of 1.4 mi.? USGS gives the depth at 4 mi.

2. Here in the east, we sit on many faults. Maybe hydraulic fracturing could slowly release the pressure (again, pure speculation on my part)

4. Let the science tell us what the cause is before we start yammering on based on our "feelings".

5. Bob Hagan is a proven anti-working class politician. He is no expert on seismology. Don't listen to the politicians.

6. craigd, above, makes one of the all too common fear-mongering statements. To counter his statement, from "Junk Science", "of the more than one million fracking or fracking-like operations that have occurred, unattributable seismic activity has been detected twice. Moreover, no structural damage was attributed to any of the seismic activity." This was published 11/17/2011.

7. What does global warming have to do with this?

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23SheepleHerder(22 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago


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24JoeFromHubbard(1647 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Oh the fear, the fear.

The frackin' fear.

Stop all of the economic benefits
before they stop us.

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25Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

I do not know what the cause is for the earthquakes . But I see I have no worries because of all the experts we have in the valley . Never knew we had so many with degrees in geology in the valley . It makes me feel so safe

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26GnomeMad(22 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

As far as I'm concerned, everyone here (including me) doesn't have a clue FOR SURE whether the quakes are due to the injection well or not. We all have our suspicions and opinions (it's the wells or it's not the wells). But I'm not a geologist or seismologist (and I'll bet you're not either), so all the "science" being bandied about here is irrelevant and mostly baseless.

My argument is that D&L *and* the state need to put the brakes on this, take a step back and let actual *geologists* figure out what's causing the quakes -- using science, not opinion or hunches or conjecture. Is it the wells? Is it just nature running its course? Is it a combination of the two? Is it something else entirely? I'm not qualified to definitively answer those questions and neither are you, so please quit acting like you are.

In the meantime, if you fancy yourself an armchair geologist or seismologist, it would be most useful and honest if you would preface any comments with "I don't know jack, but this is what I think". And please stop using this as an excuse to bash either Democrats/Liberals or Republicans/Conservatives. That's counterproductive and childish. Grow up or shut up. This is an issue that affects all of us who live here -- Dems and Republicans and Independents alike -- so please leave your party affiliations and canned vitriol at the door.

I think it's safe to say that every one of us in this community would like to see the prosperity this industry could bring to our Valley become manifest, but not all of us are willing to just let the industry run rampant over us and our environment for the sake of a few jobs and unknown tax revenue. And for the record, I'm no "tree hugger". I'm a woodworker. I cut up trees and use them to make things, but I recognize and respect the value of our natural resources -- because without trees I'd be out of business.

No matter where you happen to sit on the political spectrum, I think we all just want the TRUTH. Not third-hand rumors or "I Googled it", or "I saw it on CNN or Fox or whatever so it must be so". Do you honestly think you can get all the answers with a few clicks of the mouse when people literally spend their lifetimes studying this stuff and *still* don't have all the answers?

If you want to do something positive, pressure D&L and the state to bring in INDEPENDENT, accredited, above-the-fray-and-the-bias geologists and seismologists and others with related expertise so that we can get a true account of what exactly the problem is and what can be done to remedy it -- as in how we can extract the fuel without destroying ourselves and our environment.

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27Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

GnomeMad great comment
Thank you !!! there is commen sense alive in the valley

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28moonshine101(3 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

The franking and injecting will soon crack the lakebed under lake Erie, causing the salt mines underneath to flood and drain the lake. This will cause the earths substrate to liquify and cause a unimaginable catastrophe to the northeast USA.

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29GnomeMad(22 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

"So please take some of your own good advice."

Jessie, I almost always take my own advice (for good or bad) because when I take the advice of others, it's usually to their benefit, not mine. Whatever your bone to pick with Hagan is your bone to pick. Pick away. I don't have any problem with him and until he does something that pi$$es me off, I won't have a problem. As for the "kiss my union a$$"... just remember that if it weren't for the unions, we'd all be serfs indentured to the Carnegies and Rockefellers and other barons/tycoons/monopolists of their sort. If you want to live in a company house in a company town and shop at company stores, that's your business.

If my a$$ was union, I'd be more than happy to tell folks to kiss it. In fact, I'd love to unionize and tell my boss to kiss it, but I'm self-employed and not that limber.

But back to the brine wells and fracking... from what I saw of Hagan on the news today, he's not proposing an end to the practice, but a moratorium *until* we know the facts about its environmental impact. Emphasis on "until". Not an end to the practice. Just a pause. And a much needed and necessary pause, in my opinion.

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30CongressWatcher(222 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Here is what is known for sure at this point http://www.munimanagement.com/shookup/

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31Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

To GnomeMad
Something to Remember on page is
“Never argue with a stupid person for they will only bring
you down to their level and then beat you with experience

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32JoeFromHubbard(1647 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

My, how offensive we've become toward the oil and gas industries.

Don't worry, kids, there are so many people and government agencies watching the industry operations here in the valley that they couldn't cause any harm.

The trial lawyers are probably sharpening their knives for this opportunity also.

No good deed goes unpunished.

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33najjjj(106 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

So injection wells are safe? Is this the same kind of "safe" the gov't sold us in the 50's during atom bomb drills in schools when we were told to quietly proceed to the hallway, face the wall, and cover our necks. That would keep us safe from atomic fallout. Are we really still so naive?

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34estarkey7(7 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

@SheepleHerder - I am also for energy independence, for our country. But remember, these corporations that invest money to drill for gas and oil are trying to maximize their return on investment. What that means is that any gas and oil that is collected will most likely be sold to the highest bidder - whom is not necessarily located in Ohio, or America for that matter.

That's simple - it's Capitalism. And Capitalism has nothing to do with Patriotism.

I would love to see some real data on who are the purchasers of the oil and gas produced from the Ohio drilling. Is there any way I can get that data?

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35GnomeMad(22 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

@Freeatlast... trust me, this ain't my first rodeo. ;-)

I wouldn't go so far as to call anyone "stupid" though. I think it's more productive (and conducive to civil discourse) to attack positions, not people. Of course, not everyone practices that, but I've got pretty thick skin.

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36spartan666(5 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

It was done in 1990 but still this has to mean something.


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37peacelover(828 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

GnomeMad, you make the most sense on this whole thread.

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38snydro0108(61 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

So there's drilling in Ohio and these are the cause of these Earthquakes? Possibly, but we need jobs in this area, which are given to the LOCAL WORKER, not these out of state workers that come in. I just hope the ODNR works out the kinks so Youngstown can flourish.

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39misterlee(118 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Who cares about jobs if our houses fall apart and we all die of cancer?

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40XL(18 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

We care. I am proposing a 25% hazmat fee at the the consumer level on natural gas and motor fuels to study their impact on our health and well being. This would fund studies of extraction, refining and the environment impact of their usage.

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41Bigben(1996 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

I like the idea of making the drillers pay the fees and maybe they will give up their tax abatement too since they care so much about the communities they inject in and our financial prosperity.

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42michael1757(456 comments)posted 4 years, 1 month ago

Just because it's in me,doesn't mean you humans have to right to take it outta me. Signed,Me,The Earth

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