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The Listening Project

Spring 2012 - Economy and Environment: Utica Shale Gas Development

Every year for the last decade the number one challenge identified in The Listening Project has been Jobs and Economy. In one form or another Environment has also made the assets and challenges list. Today Northeast Ohio is confronting both of these in the subject of the development of Utica Shale Gas. Some believe that development of this resource is crucial to the economic health of the region and others are deeply concerned about how such development could endanger the environment. ideastream has been covering these issues and will continue to do so – but wanted to know what you thought in order to best focus this coverage. Below are the survey questions, and selected responses from the 153 respondents.

Question 1: Based on what you know thus far, how do you view the development of the Utica Shale Gas field in eastern Ohio?

Question 1

“Mixed feelings; I see value and reason to be cautious.”

“Short range idiocy; long range environmental suicide.”

“I am in favor of developing this economic and natural resource, but am concerned about how it may effect the geology and stability of the nuclear plant that I live near in Perry.”

“I will die before I let them destroy my groundwater and community’s health.”

“Since it made me VERY sick in 2006 I have researched it to the point of being identified as a nationally known expert on the subject. I have the facts and I know it is a bad idea!”

“IF WE DO IT RIGHT… it could bring generational wealth to the state.”

“Own 100+ acres in Belmont Cty and with landowner group looking to lease Utica and Marcellus.”

“Trust but verify. But who’s verifying?”

Question #2: Based on what you know thus far, how would you rate the following issues as priorities that residents, elected officials, business and civic officials must deal with…

Question 2

The top three responses rated as Important or Very Important issues as priorities to be dealt with were, in order, the drilling process, local infrastructure and ensuring drilling profits are shared locally through taxes, business opportunities and jobs. Many respondents chose other or made additional comments:

“Environmental impact! Not, ‘we think’ - must know!”

“Dealing with the aftermath of a ‘boom/bust’ resource extraction play.”

“Processes other than ‘fracking’ may (MAY) be more effective and/or cheaper and/or more environmentally responsible… but are not being looked-for, as long as the ‘national discussion’ is based on a wrangle among corporate explorer-producers, politicians, regulatory agencies and (dead last), the public.”

“Ensure our water supply remains safe - very important.”

“While I know our area needs jobs and economic growth, the idea of the damage fracking can do to the environment and to our property values is unsettling. I would hope we would place a moratorium on fracking until we have all the answers to these questions.”

“The environmental hazards of drilling - the reason I checked “ensuring drilling profits” are shared locally is that I don’t think we should risk the environment with drilling now until we are absolutely sure of the environmental implications which could spell “disaster”.”

‘I would like to see it not happen at all.’

‘After effects of health problems.’

‘We need to focus on our people and our people need education, housing, food, and health. I support research and implementation of renewable energy.’

“Elected officials need to deal with the coal company blocking and holding up well development in Belmont and surrounding coal counties.”

“The process needs to be safe, and taxes should be used to augment the monitoring and safety of the process.”

“I have a hard time rating any of these concerns anything other than very important.”

Question #3: Most of the information I get on Utica Shale Gas field development comes from… (choose all that apply)

Question 3

The top four responses were local newspapers, other local/national web sites, other, and WVIZ/PBS and 90.3 WCPN. Descriptions of other included:

“Cornell University, reputable medical journals, Dr. Steingraber’s research, Dr. Colborn’s research, Division Air Quality: Cleveland, ODNR, OH EPA.”

“Crain’s--their newspaper and website.

“Relatives in Pennsylvania who are dealing with the drilling companies.”

“NEOGAP”

“My own scientific research re: process and potential hazards to water, health, property, larger environment.”

“I belong to an anti-fracking group. We share info that is not readily available to the general public.”

“The Allegheny Front’s coverage of the Marcellus Shale, plus a PA fracking website.”

“Faith Based Acitivist Groups: FaCT.”

“Facebook”

Question #4: The Utica Shale Gas development field covers a large geographical area in eastern Ohio.  Who should have the lead responsibility in making the decisions and managing the issues related to shale gas development?

Question 4

“The decision to drill on property in a city should be solely the decision of the residents of the city. This is their community for which they pay taxes, vote for their representatives to ensure the safety and well being of their community. If a resident feels a well being drilled 175 from their home is not safe for their family, that resident has the right to say no to the drilling. Each American has the right to clean air, clean water and a safe environment.”

“Citizens - home owners.”

“Property owners. other residents, health professionals.”

“A mixture as stated above, but approved by citizens after studies.”

“A balance of Federal, state and local governments. We need strong federal environmental and safety standards. States and local governments should be responsible for tax policy.”

“This is both a very local issue, and a global issue. I think we need to make sure communities everywhere are well-informed about the potential consequences of fracking--and of viable alternatives--and that they are empowered make these decisions together. Currently oil and gas companies have so much economic and political power that this kind of democratic decision making process is not possible at the community, state, or federal level. This imbalanced power structure is what scares me. I don’t know what channel people have for making informed decisions about their future, the future of their communities, and the future of the planet.”

Question #5: Please check the categories related to Utica Shale Gas field development that you would like to receive more information about through the news media sources.

Question 5

Environmental, health and safety issues were the categories respondents said they would most like to receive more information about. Drilling and land issues were also of interest.

“How many of the drilling jobs in OH actually employ citizens of OH?  How much revenue is drilling generating for each city---in royalties and taxes?  How many accidents have occurred in each city?  Why aren’t schools obligated to disclose that there are gas and oil wells on school property as well as any accidents that have occurred at the well?  Parents who are planning to send their child to a school that has a well on the property need to be informed. Are there any explosive gas detectors in the school to detect gases migrating into the school from a malfunction at a well?  Does the school have a drill in place if an accident does occur?  Does the school have the fire department come in to measure air quality at the school on a regular basis?”

“Growing Ohio’s economy.”

“All of these—everyone is blinded by the $$$$$$$ - but the costs don’t matter (now).”

“Take a very close look at what has happened in Pennsylvania.”

“Investment in alternative energies seems to be on the back burner. ALL energy resources need stimulation, especially in reduction of the use of fossil fuels.”

“WATER!!!!”

“A nuanced analysis of the risks and opportunities.”

“We need a lot more backgrounding. As a start: 1) history of oil and gas in Ohio (Ohio was once the leading state in the production of oil and gas); 2) how the potential of Utica shale is already changing the steel, transportation and chemical industries in Ohio; 3) comparative experience of residents of places like Fort Worth Texas (a Google map Satellite search of Haslet TX. (It will amaze you). In addition, Fort Worth just completed an environmental study of HC emissions, and found measurable (not necessarily toxic) amounts of methane, benzene, formaldehyde and acrolein); and 4) how all the landowners who gave leases for the Clinton in the early to mid-1980s also (without considering it) also gave leases for the Utica shale. Just a start.”

Question #6: Please identify the sources you trust most for accurate, reliable information on Utica Shale Gas field development issues (choose all that apply).

Question 6

“Unfortunately, I cannot identify a source I believe is most reliable except for information from studies--Cornell University for example. Unfortunately, I have found through conversatons and my research that government officials at all levels have their own agenda for drilling in OH. The news media tries, but the true plight of the residents is not being fully communicated---families are selling their homes to leave due to a well drilled so close to their home; mortgages are being denied because of a well on a property or close to a property; homes will not sell because gas and oil wells are so close to homes; living through the drilling phase and fracking phase so close to homes---familes are leaving their homes to ensure the safety of their children (the drilling company does not notify anyone when they will drill or frack a well).”

“Specifically public broadcasting.”

“I really don’t trust anyone because everyone presents the information from their own point of view.”

“Pro Publica, Food and Water Watch, NEOGAP, taskohio.org.”

“Any source that does not profit from industry advertising or industry fees and taxes.”

“1) ODNR; 2) Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; and 3) other landowners who are even now having wells drilled and completed on their farms.”

“Peer reviewed Academic Research not funded by the industry.”

“Landowner discussions boards., such as gomarcellusshale.com.”

“Personal testimony from citizens who have had their health adversely affected by drilling.”

“Personal research using a variety of resources.”

“None & all...everybody’s got a POV...some stake holders probably don’t want the truth known. Whatever that is”

Question #7: Do you think that ideastream’s coverage of the Economy and Environment issues involved in shale gas development should…

Question 7

“This is the most urgent issue of our time.”

“You need to speak with activists, and not just industry reps, their legislative tools. There are brilliant activists, impacted communities, and independent scientists out there eager to get their voice into conventional media.”

“Begin true investigative reporting.”

“You need to bring up the health problems that are being caused by fracking. We all know people who have had their health affected from fracking and some very severely!”

“I’d like to see a specific concentration on shale gas development, with perhaps a single reporter dedicated to this issue.”

“Increase as this is such a vital and fast moving issue.”

“What happens if we lose our CLEAN Fresh Water advantage? PROVE that this will not endanger that.”

“Only in the sense that I don’t want it to be too little, too late; it is time-sensitive, so maybe emphasizing that urgency and how far along in the process we are in terms of potential development.”

“Please do as MUCH as possible to keep us informed.”

Question #8: Has ideastream’s previous shale gas coverage led you to… (choose all that apply)

Question 8

“Want better informed presenters, including people negatively affected by fracking.”

“Appreciate such competent news coverage about an important regional topic.”

“I don’t recall much being done.”

“What I’ve heard has been pretty good. I’d like to see more coverage of the extent to which the industry contributions to elected officials correlate with their votes on environmental & petroleum production issues.”

“Become active in its opposition.”

“Be grateful that there is a source that presents facts regarding the pros and cons of natural gas drilling. including health, water conservation, water quality, air quality, land value changes, pollution accidents, legal consequences for oil/gas companies who have caused spills and contamination.”

“Believe you are trying to be objective about it which sometimes doesn’t give the whole picture on how people are being misled.”

“Be more aware of the negative influences we are all subjected to and request more positive coverage.”

“None of the above.”

“Your coverage has been quite good, but a great deal more information is needed, in order to adequately inform our citizens about this practice.”

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