Plain Township Trustee Louis Giavasis had the rapt attention of North Canton City Council (Council) members at last night Committee of the Whole meeting.
For the "Concerned Citizens of Stark County" he is Saint Louis. He was the first Stark County government leader to say "hold on a minute" to the oil and gas industry and to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (the supposed safeguard for Ohio's citizens from the dangers of oil and gas exploration) as word got out that oil and gas representatives were signing up scores of Stark Countians to leases as a prelude to natural gas drillers setting up operations in Stark to do what is known as hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) to get at natural gas deposits encased in rock some 8,000 feet below the surface.
The process involves injecting a solution of chemicals (many of which are deemed hazardous to human health) and sand under high pressure down a well shaft vertically and then horizontally to fracture the rock so that the natural gas can be recovered. The chemical laced solution is then brought back to the surface.
In the video below, Stark Countians can see and hear Councilmen Jon Snyder (Ward 4; Council president), Doug Foltz (Ward 1), Jeff Davies (Ward 3) and Daniel Peters (Ward 2) dialogue with Giavasis on their concerns.
Giavasis is in the process of putting together a coalition of Stark County governments (e.g. Plain, Perry, Canton, Jackson, and, perhaps, Alliance and Hartville) to convince area legislators (Slesnick, Schuring, Hagan and Oelslager) that they need to lead the fight in the Legislature to slow down the "rush to frack" until more is known about the dangers that fracking may pose to Stark County communities.
Giavasis is focusing his effort on:
- slowing down the rush to frack at least until a U.S. EPA study on the dangers of the process comes out in about two years, and
- ensuring that oil and gas companies, if they are so cocksure about the safety of the process, are required by Ohio law to hold local communities harmless on any and all damages that may materialize from the drilling.
Slenick (D - Canton - 52nd) is pushing for legislation requiring drilling companies to increase liability insurance coverage from $3 million to $5 million, which Giavasis considers to be wholly inadequate. Schuring is supposedly working on his own version of state imposition of higher levels of liabilities with concomitant insurance/bonding coverage.
In the video that follows, Giavasis talks in detail about his effort to organize Stark County government in order to put pressure on the Ohio General Assembly to shore up drillers' legal obligation and in place securitization (meaning having the finance resource in reserve to indemnify local governments for their expenses should an accident occur).
Also, North Canton Council President Snyder speaks about his concurrence with Giavasis on certain aspects of his presentation and the prospects of Council taking action to join Giavsis' effort.