by Andy Brownfield
Wording tries to skirt ODNR oversight
Nobody stood up for fracking in today's City Council
committee meeting that saw dozens of people urge council to pass an
ordinance banning injection wells within Cincinnati.
All members of the Strategic Growth Committee voted in
favor of the proposed ordinance, with the exception of Councilman Chris
Seelbach, who was recovering after allegedly being assaulted in downtown Monday night.
If approved, the ordinance would prohibit injections wells
— which inject wastewater underground — from being allowed within city
limits. It now goes before the full council.
The practice is commonly associated with hydraulic
fracturing – or “fracking” — which uses chemical-laced water to drill
for oil and gas. Fracking fluid injected underground has been tied to a
dozen earthquakes in northeastern Ohio.
A 2004 Ohio law puts regulation of oil and gas drilling
under the state’s purview, preventing municipalities from regulating the
The wording of the proposed Cincinnati ordinance doesn’t
mention oil or gas drilling, which proponents say they hope will keep it
from clashing with the state law if it passes.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Heidi Hetzel-Evans tells CityBeat that injection wells also fall under ODNR’s purview.
She says she isn’t sure if the proposed Cincinnati ordinance would conflict with the state law.
“It’s very hard for ODNR to speculate on what might
happen,” she says, adding that there aren’t any injection wells or
applications for them in the Cincinnati area. “This may not be an issue
that’s ever tested.”
That didn’t stop the dozens of people who spoke in favor
of the ordinance at the committee meeting from erupting into applause
once the ordinance was approved.
Barbara Wolf, a documentarian who has made a video about
Cincinnati’s Water Works, said that the city has some of the cleanest
water in the world, and chemicals from hydraulic fracturing could
“We are studied by other countries,” Wolf said. “If it
(fracking fluid) goes into the Ohio River, we don’t know what the
chemicals are. It’s very hard to clean up chemicals if you don’t know
what they are. And that’s one of the things we do really well: clean up