Monday, December 27, 2010


UPDATE:  12/27/2010 AT 10:00 AM


John Fenno, a reader of the SCPR, has submitted a commentary on this blog about Plain Township Trustee Lou Giavasis' plan to offer a resolution to ban fracking at tomorrow night's regular trustee meeting.

Here, in its entirety, is Fenno's view:


From SCPR, “The coming week Trustee Giavasis will - at a regular session of the Plain Township Board of Trustees - be offering a resolution that he says is intended to safeguard Plain Township fresh water drinking supply from pollution that some say come from the fracking process.

On January 20th (for pro and anti-fracking forces) and January 27th  (for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources) informational meetings will be held at Oakwood Middle School in Plain Township on the safety of the fracking issue.  The meetings will be hosted by WHBC1480's Ron Ponder of Points to Ponder (10:00 a.m. through Noon, Monday through Friday).”

Martin, now I am confused.  Mr. Giavasis has to know by now that a "resolution” (which carries no authority under Ohio law unless there is an ORC that I am unaware of) gives every appearance as being political posturing.  One would expect a seasoned politician and elected official such as Mr. Giavasis to solicit state assistance if he is sincere in his beliefs and knowledge on this issue. I am also troubled that he would use legal resources, taxpayers' money, to draw up such a meaningless resolution BEFORE the commencement of the two scheduled public meetings. Didn't he allegedly call for one of these meetings personally?  This is also a disservice to Mr. Ron Ponder whom he asked to emcee.  Why would he disregard his commitment to Mr. Ponder, whom I believe has every intention of hearing both sides of this issue?  This only leaves a cloud hanging over this whole discussion.  It gives every appearance as a "rush to judgement" with a resolution before allowing his own scheduled meeting to take place.  It is also unfair to Mr. Ponder in his effort to bring a meaningful dialogue and debate to the citizens of Stark County on this very important issue.


John Fenno


Plain Township Trustee may end up feeling like The Lone Ranger this week.

How so?

He is and has been for some time the lead in Stark County to stop fracking (especially horizontal fracking) which is designed to release natural gas encased in deep underground rock.  He has had a resolution drawn up by legal counsel which he says he plans to move for adoption by his fellow trustees (Leno and Haws) this coming Tuesday at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Plain trustees.

For a while it appeared that he had an ally in Allen Schulman (president of Canton City Council).  But proponents of anti-fracking legislation being passed at local levels are beginning to doubt that Schulman is truly committed to such a quest in Canton. 

Chris Borello of the Concerned Citizens of Lake Township (CCLT;' now seemingly expanded to Concerned Citizens of Stark County (CCSC), put out this analysis of Schulman's position yesterday, to wit:
Canton City Council is also apparently stalling out now, despite the very strong proactive statements made at a Canton water meeting by Canton Council President, Allen Schulman, captured on Martin Olson's video camera at a water meeting we attended down in Canton ....See "Stark Poltical Report" (sic) by typing this in under google, (sic) and then scroll'll see Shulman's face/video and some direct quotes about there not being a need for a debate or need to hear from both sides if their water is at stake, that the Canton water shed was valued at a billion, and must be protected from contamination at all costs.....Well, now we are hearing he has since gone silent ; isn't reiterating this strong stance for some reason, and so now there is major concern that Canton moving forward on a ban like Plain is being stalled out.....If our sources are correct, WHY has  Mr. Shculman (sic)  now backed away from his strong position suddenly?  We are disheartened, but hope this is only a temporary setback....
While the SCPR would be surprised if Trustee Al Leno (a fellow Democrat with Giavasis) did not end up supporting him, it is certainly possible and probably likely that Trustee Haws will not support him on an up or down vote.

One more thing.

The Report would not be shocked if Giavasis got cold feet between now and Wednesday.

Giavasis has had enormous pressure put on him to slow down the fracking prohibition process.

Readers of the SCPR will recall that Giavasis had originally planned to have a meeting on December 14th with Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), area governmental officials (including some of the Stark County members of the Ohio General Assembly) and anti-fracking experts to provide information to Plain Township residents, indeed, to all Stark County citizens so than they can make informed input with local officials pro and con on whether or not to prohibit fracking.

Giavasis also invited officials from the oil and gas industry to be present, but they declined.

Before the meeting of the 14th took place, state Senator Kirk Schuring (having been contacted by fellow Republican Scott Haws), intervened to undermine Giavasis' plan to discuss fracking on the 14th by getting ODNR and fellow Republican legislators Oelslager and Snitchler to withdraw.

Plain did have a meeting on the 14th with fracking issue on agenda, but the overwhelming drift of the discussion was anti-fracking.

While all the participants (including Giavasis himself) deny that there is anything political in the maneuvering that has taken place whereby it was arranged to have two meetings (one for the anti-fracking position proponents to inform and the other ODNR and area legislators to inform) to be hosted by Ron Ponder of WHBC's Points to Ponder (now set for January 20th and 27th, having been previously set for the week of the 14th), the SCPR is not buying.

The Report believes that some local Republican elected officials are concerned that the Giavasis move is a "rush to judgment" on the issue and that there is "the other side" of the fracking issue which needs a full airing.  The SCPR thinks there is ample evidence that the Republican Party in general is more comfortable with and allied with the oil and gas industry.  It was former Vice President Dick Cheney (a former Halliburton official) who lobbied Congress to exempt fracking from federal regulation.

Democrats, especially civic activists Democrats left of the political center, tend to be environmentalists and are prone to fight any economic activity that has the mere possibility of harming the environment and do not seem the least bit reluctant to rhetorically diss any attempt to present another point of view.

Chesapeake Energy company officials (the company set to do the fracking in Stark County where hundreds if not thousands of leases have been recorded) met privately with Giavasis on Friday the 17th.  Trustee Giavasis tells The Report that it was a frank discussion, but that his mind is made up and he is determined to push for a fracking prohibition this Tuesday. 

One should not be surprised if additional pressure is not brought on Giavasis to withdraw the resolution between today and tomorrow's meeting to, at the very least, delay a consideration of a resolution until after the Ponder hosted meetings of the 20th and the 27th.

An area civic activist tells the SCPR that when he sought out a copy of the proposed Plain Township resolution, he was initially told that it would not be presented tomorrow night, but rather after the first of the year.  To The Report, such is an indication that "behind the scene" maneuverings are still going on.

So, again, the SCPR will not be shocked if the resolution evaporates at tomorrow night's meeting.

It will be interesting to see what happens in Canton City Council tonight on the issue. 

Will Borello's suspicions on Schulman's commitment be borne out?

Recently, the SCPR received an e-mail from a reader pointing out that there is another side to the fracking issue and on the superior importance of water to oil as expressed on December 16th by Councilman/President Allen Schulman (see quote above).  The theme of "the other side" arguments is that "water is not the new oil."

Among the arguments:
  • Oil gets used up, but water is inherently reusable.
  • Unlike oil, our planet has a huge stock of water, at mostly known locations.
  • Even fresh water, almost ready to drink, is quite abundant.
    Freshwater resources account for just one or two percent of Earth’s water (depending on what you count as a potential resource), but that’s still a huge amount, many times greater than what mankind consumes yearly.
  • No substitution.  There’s no “renewable energy” analog in the water market. You can use water more efficiently ...  but you can’t really phase it out in favour of some alternative.
  • Water is a local market.  Like energy, water is consumed everywhere. But whereas energy sources, such as oil, can profitably be traded across the world, from oil-rich nations to oil-poor nations, water is just too bulky (or, equivalently, too cheap per volume) to be transported cost-effectively, and thus be a truly global commodity.
Moreover,  the oil and gas industry argues that the fracking process itself is safe (having a safety track record of many decades) and while there have been some accidents; they are at the hand of drillers who do not drill according to regulatory standards and that they are few and far between.

In essence, the argument seem to boil down to, on the one hand, that water is such a vital human need that "no risk" is acceptable in terms of water getting polluted as against a countervailing argument that nothing is life is risk free and that it is critical to a continuance of the American lifestyle that exploration, drilling and production of abundant natural gas supplies be permitted under "reasonable" regulatory supervision at the state - not local - level (e.g. for Ohio, ODNR).

The SCPR believes that "the other side" of the fracking issue will be argued whether or not Trustee Giavasis presents his resolution tomorrow night or not and whether or not it is passed.

The battle over fracking is just beginning in the nation and in Stark County.

And, if it occurs, the passing of the proposed Plain Township resolution tomorrow night will be monumental Stark County event.

However, which side ultimately prevails is far from certain.

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