U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, said Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, made the “right decision” to declare a moratorium on brine-injection wells within a seven-mile radius of a West Side well, near the epicenter of 11 earthquakes in 10 months.
Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, “doesn’t have an opinion on” Kasich’s decision, said Joe Aquilino, Mandel’s campaign spokesman.
“I think Kasich made the right decision on the whole issue of injection around here,” Brown told The Vindicator on Friday while in Youngstown supporting a national alert system for criminals on the run who injure or kill law- enforcement officers.
“You err on the side of caution on something this important,” he said.
Kasich and ODNR had imposed a moratorium on injection wells within a five-mile radius; ODNR said Friday that moratorium was expanded to seven miles to include five wells in Girard, Campbell, Coitsville and two in Hubbard.
When asked if the governor waited too long to impose the moratorium, Brown said, “I’m not going to second-guess Kasich on this one; whether he should have done it earlier. I’ll second-guess him on other things.”
D&L Energy Group, owner of a brine-injection well on Ohio Works Drive, agreed to a shutdown Dec. 30 after discussions with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. At the time, the well was near the epicenter of 10 earthquakes.
A day later, an 11th earthquake, the largest with a magnitude 4.0, occurred, with the epicenter near that well.
That led Kasich to issue the indefinite moratorium while studies of the site are done, including determining whether the injection wells and the earthquakes are connected.
Mandel initiated the topic of injection wells and fracking in November, calling on Brown to support a “responsible but aggressive” policy.
Fracking blasts water, chemicals and sand into rocks thousands of feet underground to extract natural gas and oil. Injection wells take the fluid left from fracking and inject it deep into the ground for disposal.
In a prepared statement Friday to The Vindicator, Aquilino wrote: “Treasurer Mandel believes that while the job-creation element of oil and gas exploration has significant potential for the Mahoning Valley, the safety and security of families and senior citizens must come first. He remains a strong advocate for responsible exploration because of the impact it will have on job opportunities and lower utility bills for Ohioans.”
When asked about Kasich’s moratorium, Aquilino wrote that Mandel “doesn’t have an opinion on it and will continue monitoring the situation and carefully watching how it develops.”
Brown said the injection well/earthquake situation “is a cautionary note. While potential job growth from fracking and disposal waste is significant — I mean very significant, and I’m excited about it — everything has to be done right. The jobs have to be Ohio jobs, they have to be local [hires], the water has to be protected, and the disposal of waste has to be done properly.”