Friday, October 19, 2012



Stark County has been in the economic dumper for a long time.

About the only exciting thing happening that suggests a local economic resurgence is the God-given blessing that Stark sits on top of what is called Utica shale deposits.

To get at the deposits in the most efficient, effective and productive way, the oil and gas industry came up with a new and improved method of what is called "fracking" back in 1998.

When Republican John Kasich took office in January, 2011 after having narrowly defeated Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland in the November, 2010 election, he jumped all over the potential economic benefits to Ohio to be gained from a dramatic increase in oil/gas exploration with the revelation that Ohio was within the  Marcellus and Utica oil and gas ladened shale deposits.

Stark County's elected officials were slower to jump on board.  But they have.  The SCPR (a top 10 list) ranks Stark's politicians in the following order in terms of their enthusiasm for fracking:
  1. Democrat William J. Healy, II, mayor of Canton,
  2. Republican Pat Fallot, mayor of Louisville,
  3. Republican candidate for Stark County commissioner, Richard Regula (son of former 16th district congressman Ralph Regula),
  4. Republican state Rep. Christina Hagan (the 50th), who as a 24 year old unelected (appointed) legislator has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry),
  5. Republican state Senator Scott Oelslager (the 29th),
  6. Republican state Rep. J. Kirk Schuring (the 51st, soon to be the 48th),
  7. Democratic state Rep. Stephen Slesnick (the 52nd, soon to be the 49th).
  8. Former Democratic mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr of Massillon,
  9. Current Democratic Massillon Democratic mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry, and
  10. Democratic commissioner candidate Bill Smuckler.
 Moreover, the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce is "bananas" and "frothing at the mouth" about the prospects that fracking will solve everything economic that ails Stark County.

Notice the word "acquifer" in the graphic above.  Acquifer equals our drinking water. 

Well, that word is all one needs to focus upon to figure out that fracking was going to be a highly controversial procedure.

While being for fracking might well have good political spin-off for those who have lined up in support of the process, they had better pray each and every night that there is "no" fracking associated accident that pollutes Stark County's drinking water.

For  being on the Stark County Political Report's pro-fracking Top 10 List, in the event of a drinking water contamination, will not be a pretty sight to behold in terms of the political retribution that will take place.

The very first politician/governmental official to speak out against fracking was Plain Township trustee Louis Giavasis (here is a LINK to the SCPR's very first blog on fracking on 12/04/2010) who sponsored a two-part symposium emceed by Ron Ponder (Points to Ponder) of WHBC 1480 located in downtown Canton.

Giavasis stands in stark contrast (no pun intended) to his Plain Township cohort trustee Scott Haws, who, the SCPR perceives to be an ardent pro-fracker.

Giavasis has been joined by one of Stark's foremost opponent to fracking; namely,  Chris Borello who lives in Plain Township.

Chris is a long time civic activist in Stark County, having cut her teeth in civic involvement with her work to get a Superfund clean up of the Uniontown Industrial Excess Landfill located in Uniontown going back to the early 1980s.

In Giavasis' and Borello's work to curb (i.e. regulate) if not stop fracking, due to their multiple concerns that they and the group Stark County Concerned Citizens have about fracking, to wit:
  • contamination of ground water (i.e. our drinking water),
  • a degradation of air quality,
  • gases and fracking chemicals finding their way to the surface through fracturing of the shale (also by triggering earthquakes),
  • pollution of the under ground by the disposal of chemical wastes/by products in what are called "injection" wells, and
  • surface contamination from spills from extracted oil products.
she has established allies across Ohio and, indeed, over the nation.

A major blow to the ability of the likes of Borello and Giavasis to put a damper on "the rush to frack" began back in 2004.

The Ohio General Assembly passed HB 278 (2004) and SB 165 (2010) which for all intents and purposes took local control of oil and gas regulation away from Ohio's counties, cities, villages, townships and boards of education.

For a comprehensive picture on the votes of members of the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly on HB 278 and SB 165 go to an October 7, 2011 SCPR blog (LINK).

Apparently, for some reason Borello and her allies thought state Senator Scott Oelslager would be open to their entreaty to work to strengthen regulation of fracking both at the state and local level.

The SCPR has learned that Borello (Stark County Concerned Citizens) ally Alison Auciello of the Columbus-based Food and Water Watch organization obtained a meeting with Oelslager on October 1st at his North Canton condominium.

She had with her four Oelslager constituents:  a film maker, a Vietnam veteran, a retired teacher and a MIT educated engineer.

Summing up her take on the hour long session, Auciello says:
".... throughout Sen. Oelslager was not open to hearing or lending any legitimacy to what we all see as valid concerns about the impact of fracking in his district" and "[my]y overall impression of him is that, at least at this point, he is not movable. He has fully ingested the oil-aid and has his mind closed to any other perspective."

"[H]e is not movable," and "his mind [is] closed," and "he has fully ingested the oil aid."

Interesting, no?

More specifically, Auciello made the following points on Oelslager:
  • Oelslager believes that we are entrenched in a fossil fuel economy and wouldn't hear that investment in fracking is standing directly in the way of a transition to renewable,
  • He assumed we all knew that renewable energy would be inadequate anyway. He believes that fracking will be an economic windfall for Ohio and refused to hear that it would only be for the lucky few and the rest of us would be left with the cleanup bill,
  • He was throwing out key phrases like "energy independence" and "investment in infrastructure" (which he somehow thinks will still be useful when the gas runs out).  
  • He's also under the impression that Kasich solved the earthquake problem.  
  • We made it clear to him that we'd like to see his support of moratorium legislation in the beginning and he tried to lay a "ground rule" that there will be no moratorium. He wanted us to give suggestions on improvements to regulations.
  • We pointed out that regulations haven't been effectively enforced, and they can't make the process safe to begin with, but all he was doing the whole time was waiting to pounce on any point he had the counterpoint to go along with.
  • One thing that I thought was really telling about his position is his reaction to the local control issue. He said that if it were up to local municipalities, we'd have no "progress", so what he is essentially saying is that he knows local communities don't want fracking, and that's why the state needs to decide- so we can do it anyway.
Chris Borello may be even tougher on Oelslager, to wit:
  • Love Scotty's response on "local control'....Wow.  Incredible...   More blatant hypocrisy. on supposed "core beliefs, eh? 
    • We can never forget how Ralph Regula indeed, deferred to "local control" - the Lake Twp. Trustees, on IEL's Plutonium issue!
    •  Regula indeed, deferred to "local control" - the Lake Twp. Trustees, on IEL's Plutonium issue!  We have the letter he sent to CCLT [Concerned Citizens of Lake Township] to prove it.
    • We believe Scott Oelslager, Kirk Schuring and other reps. agreed with the Congressman's position on this...I think Sen. Voinovich's staffer told us it was called being  "Federalist".  ... .
    • Frankly, I am quite sure there are still many residents in our area who would like to ask Scott, Kirk Schuring, Christina Hagan, and especially our former Congressman, Ralph Regula,  about this extremely serious double standard regarding local control, the Plutonium and IEL, and now, fracking..... .
  • The newspapers have a copy of that letter from Regula to CCLT re.  how local officials are the most appropriate officials to make such determinations.... We gave it to papers two years ago, when we first learned about HB. 278 stripping our rights away! 
It appears to the SCPR that the die is cast on fracking in Stark County.

There is no doubt that it has the enthusiastic support of most Stark County's elected officials, led by the SCPR's Top Ten List.

Stark County's everdays are much more circumspect about the issue of fracking than are many of if not most of Stark's elected officials.

Let us "hope and pray" that these officials have made the right call.

For if they have not and the drinking water supply gets contaminated, we all will regret that fracking was ever engaged.

And, we will be likely looking at a long list of ex-Stark County elected officials!

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