Saturday, May 7, 2011


One of the least explored questions on the fracking issue is the "politics of fracking."

Horizontal hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) for natural gas in a formation known as the Marcellus shale is a process by which a vertical hole is drilled to about 8,000 feet below the surface and then turned horizontal for a distance (limited by the size of the lease) and then injected with a high pressure mix of sand and chemicals (some of which are hazardous) and, of course, water to fracture rock which encases natural gas thereby release the gas for collection.

The SCPR's take on the "politics of fracking" is that Democrats generally oppose the process whereas Republicans generally support it.  But, like anything else with a political dimension to it, there are plenty of exceptions to the rule of thumb.

Ohio's leading Republican, Governor John Kasich, has come out strongly in favor of fracking.

For the average citizen, politics does not seem to be much of a factor.  The lure of fracking to everyday Stark Countians is the money to be made by leasing their properties to energy companies who are setting up to do fracking.  However, there are quite a number of Stark Countians who worry about whether or not fracking will result in contaminating drinking water supplies.

Both sides are weighing in with the Democratic and Republican politicians who staff village and city councils or boards of trustees.

Stark County two leading anti-fracking-politicians happen to be Democrats, to wit:  Trustee Louis Giavasis (Plain Township - who The Report believes is the leading authority in Stark on fracking) and Councilwoman Mary Cirelli of Canton.

However, the mix of communities that have passed resolutions (only calls for moratoriums so far) are not so easily identified as promoting a Republican or Democratic view.  These communities include Canton (heavily Democratic), Plain Township and Alliance (pretty much an even split) as well as Hartville and North Canton (which have a Republican dominance).

At least one individual Republican who has strong anti-fracking views is Plain Township attorney William G. Williams who has spent most of his career representing oil and gas interests and land owners.

So while The Report does believe that there is an element of politics at play on the fracking issue in the local domain, big stakes politics is played out in Columbus and Washington not Stark County.

In Stark County the controversy is between folks like Chris Borello (who happens to be a Democrat) of Plain Township and the Concerned Citizens of Stark County (also, Concerned Citizens of Lake Township - on hazardous waste dump site located near the center of Uniontown) and others who care about the possible damage that could occur to Stark localities from fracking but who think that Ohio government has enough safeguards in place to protect citizens and that therefore fracking is a reasonable risk for Ohio, local communities, and local citizens to engage in.

The Report 's take is that Borello represents the "no risk crowd" whereas folks like Williams represents the "reasonable risk" crowd and that the fight is over the risk element and is not, for them, a Republican/Democratic thing.

The SCPR has published material in earlier blogs about positions of public officials from Alliance, Canton and Plain Township.

Today, The Report shares with readers the North Canton perspective.  It appears that North Canton like Canton and Plain Township will be submitting a resolution (likely to be voted on this coming Monday, May 9th) asking state officials to declare a moratorium on fracking until a EPA study commissioned by the national government is completed in about two years.

Here are two videos which emcompass five of seven councilpersons (Councilman Jeff Davies being the lead on the matter) who expressed their viewpoints last Monday.

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