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Thursday, November 17, 2011

(VIDEOS OF COMMISSONERS/CO. ENGR BENNETT)YESTERDAY THE STARK COMMISSIONERS SIGNED A ROADWAY USE, REPAIR, AND MAINTENANCE AGREEMENT WITH OIL & GAS "FRACKER" CHESAPEAKE EXPLORATION, LLC - DID COMMISSIONERS ADEQUATELY PROTECT STARK COUNTY ROADS?


The "honest to God" reality is that that horizontal fracking is going to occur bigtime in Ohio and, more particularly, in Stark County as the oil and gas industry scales up its operation to extract oil and natural gas deposits (Marcellus and Utica) contained in the rock which underlies Stark.

Here is one definition of fracking:
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a means of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well.
The SCPR has displeased the local anti-fracking crowd (headed up by Chris Borello of the Concerned Citizens of Stark County) by squaring up with the political realities that have been put in place by the likes of Republican Governor John Kasich.

Fracking is going to happen.  The only thing left for citizens to do is to hold public officials accountable to put in place sufficient protective measures vis-a-vis the oil and gas industry of the water we drink, the air we breathe and the roads we drive on.

Yesterday, the Stark County commissioners approved a Roadway Use, Repair, and Maintenance Agreement (Agreement) with Chesapeake Exploration, LLC (an Oklahoma limited liability agreement) designed to protect Stark Countians from damages to county roads, bridges, culverts, drains, et cetera.

The question:  Did the commissioners (using the services of  Stark County Engineer and the Stark County prosecutor's office) make a proper judgment that the agreement they entered into with Chesapeake on Stark Countians behalf was in the "best interests" of Stark Countians?

For any reader who want a copy of the agreement, contact the Stark County commissioners for a copy for email a request to tramols@att.net.

The SCPR's analysis (from a journalistic perspective; not from a legal perspective) is that they did.

An important part of the agreement requires Chesapeake to post a $200,000 per mile bond on the county roads they use.   Moreover, there are a number of important safeguards contained in the Agreement.

In earlier blogs on fracking, The Report has adopted a strategy of Plain Township Trustee Louis Giavasis to require (as a matter of Ohio statutory law) oil & gas industry drillers to have much higher amounts of liability insurance than presently required (which the SCPR understands to be a mere $3 million to cover all liability eventualities).

Such a bump up of coverage needs to be in place to cover accidents when they DO happen and consequently cause damage to water, air and ground natural resources and, of course, each and every individual person hurt by the accident.

There are deniers (mostly a matter of semantics) within the oil and gas industry who pooh pooh the notion that accidents will happen.

But the SCPR for one, among many who are not connected with environmental activists who are totally against fracking, are not buying.  We remember the "Deep Water Horizon," the "Exxon-Valez" and other accidents which have caused great harm to the environment and to people.

The way to handle the inevitable fracking is to make the industry indemnify and hold harmless on all consequences of an accident whenever the accidents do occur.

Giavasis approached state Representative Kirk Schuring early this year and asked him to sponsor and push legislation.

At last report, Schuring has gotten nothing done on the Giavasis request.  Of course, the SCPR has written ad nauseam that Schuring is mostly mouth and very little action; yet Stark Countians keep electing him.

But the Giavasis approach is the common sense approach that is actually workable.

For all the concerns that citizens have about fracking, the realistic and practical public response should be a la the Agreement, increasing liability and the like to make the oil and gas industry pay the bill for repairing the damages that fracking accidents might do.

One of the reasons that government entities like the Stark County commissioners can negotiate "fair" agreements with the oil and gas industry is because of the "hue and cry" raised by the anti-fracking community.

Being the political savvy people they are, the industry has figured out that they cannot assign the anti-frackers to being a fringe players who have no credibility with the great political middle of America.

While the anti-frackers may be unrealistic in thinking the can actually stop fracking, they certainly have made the oil and gas industry sit up and take notice and make agreements like yesterday's agreement possible.

Next up are two very important videos.

First, is a video of Stark County Engineer Keith Bennett in dialogue, and followed by a second video where in yours truly and Nancy Molnar of the Akron Beacon Journal quiz Bennett about the particulars of the Agreement:

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