By Marc Kovac
Gov. John Kasich said state officials are continuing to review data related to a series of earthquakes in the Youngstown area to determine if fracking is to blame.
“They’re analyzing data,” he said. “As soon as we have all the data, we’ll be able to make a decision about what we need to do. At this point, we’ve taken precautions.”
He added, “We’ll see. We just stay calm in all this and work as quickly as we can to figure out if the problem was caused by drilling. If it’s something else, we’ll know and we’ll take appropriate action.”
The U.S. Geological Survey recorded five earthquakes over the past week in Poland Township, ranging in magnitude from 2.1 to 3.
The Vindicator earlier reported that Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory registered additional seismic activity in the area, bringing the total number of quakes since the beginning of the month to 11.
In response, ODNR ordered Hilcorp Energy Co. to cease its drilling activities in the vicinity of the epicenter. And ODNR spokesman Mark Bruce said Friday the state agency continues to review seismic data to pinpoint potential causes.
“Hilcorp’s stimulation operations on one pad have been suspended until further notice,” Bruce said in a released statement. “We are focused on gathering and analyzing all available data including seismic information and company logs such as drilling, stimulation and completion logs. ... The prudent action moving forward is to allow ODNR to complete our review then take any appropriate next steps.”
Kasich concurred on the measured approach, telling reporters after an appearance at a western Ohio manufacturing plant, “We’ve got to determine what the cause is. We’ve gone through this before. We found that there was probably some drilling on a fault the last time. We took appropriate action. We’ll do the same thing now.”
He added, “We know this industry is critical to us,” he said. “It’s creating a lot of wealth and significant jobs, so we don’t want to overreact, but we’re not going to underreact, because I believe you can have very, very strong environmental protections and still have an industry that’s going to be very positive for the state.”