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Geology 101

December 9, 2013
Morning Journal News


Drilling under East Palestine. It's Geology 101, the Earth's surface is composed of faults and fissures - in other words, cracks. Shale, which is sedimentary rock, is formed by layers of clay being compressed over time. Cracks mean seepage and the very real likelihood of liquids/gases moving from place to place as pressure from deep in the ground is applied or reduced.

At the Nov. 25 meeting of the East Palestine Village Council, Councilman Don Elzer was promoting the idea of drilling for oil/gas within the village limits. According to Elzer, if municipal properties along with private property owners collectively petitioned oil and gas drilling companies for the right to drill in the village - under the village, that part was unclear - there would be millions of dollars to be had. He calculated a small lot of 50- by 150-feet would reap $750 in a one-off signing bonus - worth about 26 trips to Burger King for a family of five.

To my way of thinking, if the results of a collective petition was free gas to homeowners and businesses, that would be something we might all get behind. What an incentive to move to East Palestine.

Several years ago there was a proposal to strip mine coal within the village limits. This idea was promoted as having financial benefits for the community, too. It was defeated when the water pollution potential was realized.

Apples and oranges, you say? After all, strip mining is on the surface and fracking is deep below the surface.

Let's go back to Geology 101 and the faults, fissures, cracks and underground stresses/pressures. Combine that with the fact that East Palestine is a valley and our excellent and abundant water supply - our one major natural resource - comes from wells and you have potential trouble.

By any stretch of the imagination the noise pollution, heavy machine/truck traffic and monster drilling rigs, like the one on state Route 14, cannot be considered a plus to community life.

New York state is saying no to fracking - period. Other communities in Ohio are resisting state-mandated drilling permits/regulations. (See Morning Journal article, "Local gas drilling laws get a key airing in Ohio" by Julie Carr Smyth, AP Statehouse correspondent, Dec. 12, page 5A.) We cannot afford to be blindsided by the prospect of quick money. Haphazard development is not the answer.

By all means, council should gather information and do feasibility studies. That's their job. According to Councilman Fran Figley other communities elsewhere have collectively bargained with oil/gas companies for the right to drill. Consult them, but be sure to hear from the citizens of those communities - the average Joes - not just the politicians and oil company fat cats.

In the end, remember there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. If it looks to good to be true, it probably is.

John and Dorothy Herbert

East Palestine



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