An update on recent lawmaker action and other activities at the Ohio Statehouse related to horizontal hydraulic fracturing:
Injection wells: In May, several Democratic state lawmakers, including Rep. Bob Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, and environmental advocates spotlighted legislation that would ban the use of injection wells for disposing of oil-field waste, blocking millions of barrels of fracking fluids from being pumped into nearly 180 active Class 2 injection wells in use in the state.
“Until more comprehensive research is conducted, Ohio does not need to be used as a dumping ground for other states’ fracking waste,” Hagan said. “As the earthquakes in Youngstown clearly demonstrate, there are serious hazards involved in the use of injection wells. We should refrain from further endangering our communities until we have a fuller understanding of the consequences of the practice.”
Radioactive: Environmental groups urged state lawmakers to toughen laws and regulations on the disposal of naturally occurring radioactive materials, a potential product of horizontal hydraulic fracturing.
Language included in the state budget would allow such waste to be dumped in landfills, advocates said.
“If the shale-gas wastes are ‘properly’ disposed of, they are going to swamp the handful of existing, federally approved low-level radioactive-waste disposal facilities. This is why the industry and supporting politicians are dodging that classification as quickly as they can,” Julie Weatherington-Rice, an Ohio Environmental Council adviser, said in a released statement.
Production update: ODNR officials released a report outlining Utica shale oil and gas production for 2012.
It noted that 87 wells extending horizontally into eastern Ohio’s underground shale formations produced nearly 26.7 million gallons of oil — nearly 636,000 barrels — and 12.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas last year.
State officials also projected that oil and gas produced from horizontal wells could outpace conventional vertical wells within three years, with about 1,000 of the new wells expected to be in production by 2015.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Jim Zehringer said the results mark “the beginning of a historic era of oil and gas production.”
Stark State project: The state Controlling Board OK’d Stark State College’s planned $4.9 million purchase of a building in downtown Canton to house its growing shale oil and gas programs.
The new center “will train local workers for a new industry that is currently using out-of-state workers,” according to information provided to lawmakers.
“Stark County has been an economically depressed area,” said Stark State President Para Jones. “And with the Utica Shale developing, we see that changing.”