Marcellus Shale Drilling Debate Heats Up in Ohio

Anti-drilling forces are becoming vocal in Ohio, but the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which oversees drilling in the state, says they’re prepared to ensure Marcellus drilling is done safely.

Ohio needs an immediate ban on widespread drilling for natural gas using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

That’s the position of a coalition of Ohio environmental, health and community groups that delivered letters to all Ohio legislators Tuesday seeking support for a moratorium to slow or block drilling in the potentially lucrative Marcellus and Utica shale formations under eastern Ohio.

A detailed e-mail also was sent to all legislators late Monday, organizers said.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which oversees drilling in the state, does not support the call for a moratorium.

“We do not believe there is a need for a moratorium on shale-gas drilling in Ohio,” agency spokeswoman Laura Jones said. “We feel that we are prepared . . . and will be in a good position to monitor and oversee that such drilling is done safely.”

Industry officials were unavailable for comment Wednesday. At a public meeting last month in Ravenna, they said any kind of ban or moratorium would severely cripple or kill gas and oil development in Ohio.

Moratorium supporters want legislators to order Natural Resources to block all permits for natural gas drilling that rely on horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.*

*Akron Beacon Journal (Mar 10) – Groups want moratorium on drilling

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