WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Andy Brownfield 12.05.2012
 
 
quinlivan

Council Approves Resolution Asking for Fracking Control

Cincinnati asks state to overturn law preventing cities from regulating oil and gas drilling

Cincinnati City Council continued its effort to prevent a controversial method of drilling for oil and gas by passing a resolution on Wednesday asking the state to allow the city to make its own regulatory laws. The resolution expresses council’s dissatisfaction with the Ohio Legislature for granting “special privileges to the oil and natural gas industry” and asks it to repeal any laws that pre-empt local control over drilling. The resolution targets the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” which uses chemically-laced water to free up natural gas trapped in shale formations underneath Ohio. Fracking opponents worry that the chemicals used in the fluid — which companies aren’t required to disclose — can be toxic to people and animals. Prior to the council vote, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls and Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan held a news conference on the steps of City Hall. “I believe local officials should have a say on all matters related to potentially hazardous activities such as fracking,” Quinlivan said in an emailed statement. “I urge my colleagues to send a strong message to the Ohio Governor, the Ohio Legislature, and Cincinnati residents by passing this resolution.”  A 2004 state law puts regulation of oil and gas drilling under the state’s purview, preventing municipalities from regulating drilling on their land. Copies of the resolution will be sent to Gov. John Kasich and members of the Ohio General Assembly elected from the Cincinnati area. The resolution comes after Ohio recently lifted a moratorium on new injection wells, which shoot wastewater deep underground for storage.  There had been a temporary ban on new wells almost a year ago after seismologists said an injection was to blame for 11 earthquakes around the Youngstown area. City council in August passed an ordinance to band injection wells within city limits. Because the injection well ban doesn’t mention drilling, council hoped it wouldn’t clash with the state law preventing local regulation of oil and gas drilling.
 
 

Kasich’s Severance Tax Facing Bipartisan Resistance

0 Comments · Wednesday, December 5, 2012
The Ohio Farm Bureau (OFB) has officially come out against Gov. John Kasich’s plan to tax oil and gas production. The move from the Republican-leaning agricultural group is yet another blow to Kasich’s tax plan, which raises the severance tax on the oil-and-gas industry to pay for a cut to Ohio’s income tax.    
by German Lopez 12.05.2012
Posted In: 2013 Election, News, Energy, Mayor, Budget, Fracking at 10:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
qualls

Morning News and Stuff

Qualls to run for mayor, city budget proposal raises taxes, local fracking control demanded

It will soon be official. Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls will announce her mayoral campaign on Thursday at 10 a.m. Qualls has already announced her candidacy and platform on her website. Qualls will be joined by term-limited Mayor Mark Mallory, which could indicate support from the popular mayor. Right now, Qualls’ only known opponent is former Democratic city councilman John Cranley, who has spoken out against the streetcar project Qualls supports. As part of City Manager Milton Dohoney’s budget proposal, anyone who lives in Cincinnati but works elsewhere could lose a tax credit. The budget proposal also eliminates the property tax rollback and moves to privatize the city’s parking services, which Dohoney says is necessary if the city wants to avoid 344 layoffs. The mayor and City Council must approve Dohoney’s budget before it becomes law. City Council is set to vote on the budget on Dec. 14. Public hearings for the budget proposal will be held in City Hall Thursday at 6 p.m. and in the Corryville Recreation Center Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. Vice Mayor Qualls and Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan are pushing a resolution that demands local control over hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” activity. But the resolution will have no legal weight, so the state will retain full control over fracking operations even if the resolution is passed. Qualls and Quinlivan will also hold a press conference today at 1:15 p.m. at City Hall to discuss problems with fracking, which has come under fire by environmentalist groups due to concerns about air pollution and water contamination caused during the drilling-and-disposal process. Greater Cincinnati hospitals had mixed results in a new round of scores from Washington, D.C.-based Leapfrog Group. In an effort to comply with cost cutting, the Hamilton County recorder is eliminating Friday office hours. The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments is looking for feedback for the Tristate’s transportation and economic plans. This year’s drought is coming to an end in a lot of places, but not southwest Ohio. The Ohio Senate passed a concussion bill that forces student athletes to be taken off the field as soon as symptoms of a concussion are detected. As the state government pushes regulations or even an outright ban on Internet cafes, one state legislator is suggesting putting the issue on the ballot. State officials argue unregulated Internet cafes are “ripe for organized crime” and money laundering. An Ohio House committee is set to vote on the issue today. If passed, the bill will likely put Internet cafes that use sweepstakes machines out of business. Ohio Gov. John Kasich could be preparing for a 2016 campaign. Kasich was caught privately courting Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul who spent millions on Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney’s failed campaigns for the presidency. The early meetup shows how valued super PAC funders are to modern political campaigns. State Democrats criticized the meeting, saying it was Kasich “actively positioning to be the next Ohio darling of the special interests.” Ohio Sen. Rob Portman had a bit of trouble giving a speech on the federal debt yesterday. Hecklers repeatedly interrupted Portman, a Republican, as he tried to speak. The final protesters were escorted out of the room as they chanted, “We’re going to grow, not slow, the economy.” Portman says his plan is to promote growth. But both Democrats and Republicans will raise taxes on the lower and middle classes, according to a calculator from The Washington Post. Tax hikes and spending cuts are typically bad ideas during a slow economy. U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is facing the wrath of his tea party comrades. The far right wing of the Republican Party is apparently furious Boehner purged rebellious conservative legislators out of House committees and proposed $800 billion in new revenue in his “fiscal cliff” plan to President Barack Obama.To help combat fatigue at space stations, NASA is changing a few light bulbs. Does this dog really love or really hate baths? You decide:
 
 
by German Lopez 12.03.2012
Posted In: Budget, Economy, News, Fracking, Environment, Energy at 10:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
news1_fracking

Morning News and Stuff

Ohio's fracking boom disappoints, war on babies declared, Cincinnati's economic triumph

Ohio’s fracking boom might not be living up to the hype. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources originally estimated that 250 fracking wells would be built by the end of the year, but only 165 have been completed and 22 are currently being built. The disappointing results are being blamed on low natural gas prices and a backlog in work needed to connect wells to customers. Maybe the state’s claim had as much basis as Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s claim that the state’s fracking boom would be worth $1 trillion. By killing the heartbeat bill and a bill that defunds Planned Parenthood, Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus, a Republican, apparently declared a war on babies, according to anti-abortion groups. Niehaus is term-limited, so he will not be in the Ohio Senate in the next session, which begins next year. Incoming senate president Keith Faber already said the heartbeat bill could come up to vote in the next Senate session. CityBeat previously wrote about Ohio Republicans’ renewed anti-abortion agenda.Between 2011 and 2012, Cincinnati had the 12th best economic performance in the United States, according to a Brookings Institute study. Out of the 76 metropolitan areas looked at, only Dallas; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Pittsburgh have recovered from the recession, and 20 areas lost more ground throughout the year. Media Bridges, Cincinnati’s public access media outlet, is the latest victim of the 2013 budget proposal from City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. The budget plan suggests slashing $300,000 from the organization’s funding. When coupled with state funding cuts, Media Bridges is losing $498,000 in funding, or 85 percent of its budget. Tom Bishop, executive director of Media Bridges, compared the cuts to a “meteor” hitting Media Bridges’ budget. The city says cuts were suggested in part due to public feedback. The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition is pushing the public to speak out against $610,770 in cuts to human services funding in Dohoney’s proposed budget. Mayor Mark Mallory and City Council have already agreed to continue 2013 funding at 2012 levels, but homeless advocates want to make sure the funding, which largely helps the homeless and low-income families, remains. The group is calling for supporters to attend City Council meetings on Dec. 5 at 1:15 p.m. at City Hall, Dec. 6 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall and Dec. 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the Corryville Recreation Center. It’s commonly said Cincinnati is Republican territory, but after the latest elections, that’s looking more and more false. The University of Cincinnati is stepping up safety efforts around campus. The university held a summit to gather public feedback on possible improvements in light of recent incidents in and around campus. Beginning in January, UC will increase patrols by 30 percent. Crime around Columbus’ Hollywood Casino has ticked up. Could Cincinnati face a similar fate when the Horseshoe Casino is up and running? A Washington Post analysis found casinos bring in jobs, but also bankruptcy, crime and even suicide. Results equal funding. That’s the approach Gov. Kasich is taking to funding higher education, but Inside Higher Ed says the approach is part of “an emerging Republican approach to higher education policy, built largely around cost-cutting.” Kasich’s approach is meant to encourage better results by providing higher funds to schools with higher graduation rates, but schools with funding problems and lower graduation rates could have their problems exacerbated. Josh Mandel, state treasurer and former Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, insists his big loss in November does not make him a political has-been. Mandel will be pursuing a second term at the Ohio treasurer’s office in 2014. Mandel lost the Senate race despite getting massive amounts of funding from third parties — Democrats estimate $40 million — to support his campaign. The auto industry is still chugging along with impressive numbers from November. Gas prices moved down in Ohio this week. One geneticist says people are getting dumber, but he doesn’t seem to have much to back his claims up.
 
 
by German Lopez 11.20.2012
Posted In: Budget, Development, Economy, News, Energy, Environment at 09:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
feature_banks_lede

Morning News and Stuff

Plan Cincinnati set for approval, Hamilton County's budget delayed, waste wells return

Plan Cincinnati is expected to be approved by City Council Wednesday, according to Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls. The plan was unanimously approved by the Livable Communities committee last night. Plan Cincinnati, which is Cincinnati’s first comprehensive plan in 30 years, emphasizes the city’s urban center through new infrastructure, transportation options and goals to make downtown residents stay in the area. CityBeat previously covered the plan in greater detail here. At the request of the sole Democrat on the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, a vote on the 2013 budget is being delayed by one week. Commissioner Todd Portune asked Commission President Greg Hartmann, a Republican, for the vote delay to address funding to juvenile courts and plans for future financial stability. Hartmann agreed to the delay, noting consensus is important for budget issues. The budget won’t raise taxes, but it could put 150 Hamilton County employees out of jobs. Wastewater injection wells, which are used to dispose of fluids used during the fracking process, will soon be popping up around Ohio again. The wells are the first to get state approval since earthquakes around Youngstown in December were blamed on nearby wastewater injection wells. It’s clear little — not even earthquakes — will stop Ohio’s fracking boom, but at what cost? It is generally accepted switching from coal to natural gas would bring down pollution that causes global warming, but some findings from Australia suggest problems still lay ahead. One study found an abnormal amount of greenhouse gases around an Australian fracking site. Methane leakage in particular is a problem at natural gas sites because over 100 years methane is 25 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cincinnati home sales shot up in October, according to the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors. The report paints a great picture for the city’s housing economy. Housing was one of the biggest sectors hit by the financial crisis of 2007-2008, so a recovery in housing is a sign the economic downturn could soon be a thing of the past. University of Cincinnati researchers want to know if testing emergency-room patients for HIV makes sense. ER doctors worry about longer wait times, disrupted operations and possible interference with emergency services, but the health benefits could outweigh the negatives. FirstGroup America is looking into moving from its Cincinnati headquarters. The company originally got a million-dollar tax incentive from the city for moving to downtown. Ohio Gov. John Kasich hopes his rejection of Obamacare’s health exchanges will ignite some re-election fundraising. Kasich is up for re-election in 2014. Exchanges are subsidized, heavily regulated insurance markets that will go into effect in 2014 as part of Obamacare. They are supposed to bring down costs by offering more transparent, open competition through a fair, regulated marketplace. With Kasich’s rejection, the federal government will manage Ohio’s exchange. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted finally had a good day in court on Saturday. In a reversal from the lower court’s ruling, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said ballots without proper identification should not be counted. It’s estimated that, at most, the ruling will affect about 2,000 votes. A Dayton man allegedly robbed the same bank twice. Behold, the greatest thing the internet has ever created: The Spice Kittens livestream.With a nose cell transplant, paralyzed dogs are walking again.
 
 
by German Lopez 08.21.2012
Posted In: 2012 Election, News, Environment at 08:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
enquirer

Morning News and Stuff

In-person early voting in Hamilton County has a minimum cost estimate: $18,676. The number represents about 0.009 percent of the county’s 2012 budget. Unfortunately, The Cincinnati Enquirer never bothered putting the number in any context, so its story read like the $18,676, or $406 an hour, will be a big expense for Hamilton County.Ohio is a “middle-of-the-road” state when it comes to early voting. Several states — including New York, a fairly liberal state — have more restrictive voting rules.Money Magazine named West Chester, a Greater Cincinnati suburb, in its top 100 list for best small cities to live in the United States. West Chester was No. 97 on the list.The Washington Post has a good analysis on why natural gas produced from fracking could help combat global warming. The big concern for environmentalists is methane leaks during the fracking process. If methane leaks are too high and can’t be contained, natural gas could be worse for the environment than coal, at least in the short term. The analysis concludes that natural gas could be positive by itself in fighting climate change, but a much broader plan that includes more than natural gas will be necessary to reach scientifically suggested goals. It also points out there’s a lot of uncertainty behind natural gas and fracking, echoing CityBeat’s recent in-depth look at the issue.The Ohio Board of Education made two big decisions at its meeting yesterday. First, it will delay the 2011-2012 report card, which grades different schools and school districts, until the state auditor finishes an investigation looking into school attendance reports. The attendance report scandal, which involves schools doctoring attendance reports to earn better grades, began at Lockland schools in Hamilton County. Second, the Board has officially launched its national search for a new superintendent of public instruction. The previous superintendent — Stan Heffner — resigned after a state auditor report found he was misusing state resources and advocating for legislation that benefited his other employer.An auto manufacturer is laying off 173 workers in Blanchester, Ohio.But Kings Island is looking to hire more than 500 workers for its Halloween season.President Barack Obama has cleared some Ohio counties for federal disaster funding. Ohio lawmakers had previously asked for federal support after a wave of severe storms hit the state earlier in the summer. The storms were estimated to be the worst in Ohio since 2008, when the remnants of Hurricane Ike caused more than $1 billion in damage.Miami University has been ranked a top 10 party school.Newsweek is getting a ton of criticism for running a cover story this week filled with factual inaccuracies. Among many claims, the story makes the false implication that the Affordable Care Act increases the federal budget deficit. The story was written by Niall Ferguson, a conservative Harvard professor known for being consistently wrong.NASA has already planned its next interplanetary mission: a robot drill for Mars.
 
 
by German Lopez 08.17.2012
Posted In: News, Economy, Education, Environment, President Obama at 08:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
news1_fracking

Morning News and Stuff

Carbon dioxide emissions fell to a 20-year low this year, largely thanks to natural gas that was made cheaper and more plentiful due to the fracking boom in Ohio and other states. The news is a surprising turnaround for climate change activists, but critics worry that methane — a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide — emitted from natural gas operations could still pose a significant climate threat. Environmental groups are generally opposed to fracking, but supporters, like Gov. John Kasich, insist it can be made safe with enough regulations. CityBeat previously covered the concerns and questions behind fracking here.The Ohio Department of Education has had a rough year, and in a few ways, it’s back to square one. On top of the search for a new superintendent of public instruction, the Department of Education has had to deal with budget cuts and layoffs, a new Board of Education member with no college degree or known resume, and the department is now being investigated by the state auditor.  The White House has announced a $30 million manufacturing hub for Ohio that will act as a model for the rest of the United States. The hub will bring together universities and businesses in order to increase growth and collaboration and decrease risk.Ohio has seen an uptick of businesses requesting to work in the state, according to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. Estimates show 6,137 new entities applied to work in the state during July, up from 5,472 during July 2011. The state has also seen 52,728 new business requests so far in 2012, up from 49,460 during the same January-to-July period in 2011. The news shows some signs of strengthening economic growth in Ohio.But Ohio’s unemployment rate barely moved in July. The unemployment rate remained at 7.2 percent, the same as June’s unemployment rate, even though 2,000 jobs were added.The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. EPA, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and energy companies met yesterday to work out how Ohio will enforce new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. The new standards will greatly reduce toxic pollutants given off by power plants, according to the National Resources Defense Council.Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor claims there’s a funding shortage for courts. The shortage could make it difficult for some cases and people to see their day in the courtroom.Environmental groups are asking for more rules for wastewater injection wells, the wells used to dump wastewater produced during fracking. But state regulators aren’t sure more rules are necessary.Fifty-eight state Republican lawmakers have never broken from the very conservative Ohio Chamber of Commerce in a vote.Sen. Rob Portman will be speaking at the Republican national convention. The convention will make Mitt Romney’s nomination as the Republican presidential candidate official. Conventions are also a time for political parties to show off their new party platforms.President Barack Obama is coming back to Ohio next Tuesday. The president will be staying in Columbus this time around.Tax Policy Center to conservative critics: No matter what you say, Romney’s tax plan is still mathematically impossible.Americans love computers, but they hate the oil and gas industry.It’s taking more than three days, but the famous Jesus statue is rising again.
 
 
by German Lopez 08.16.2012
Posted In: News, Environment, Oil at 02:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
 
 
nrdc

Environmental Groups Ask for More Fracking Rules

NRDC and others say wastewater injection well rules aren’t tough enough

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and 10 other individuals and organizations filed a letter today asking the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to strengthen its rules for wastewater injection wells, which are used to dispose of wastewater produced during fracking. NRDC says the tougher regulations could prevent more incidents like the earthquakes experienced in Youngstown, Ohio around New Year’s Eve. The earthquakes were linked to wastewater injection wells in the Youngstown area.  Tougher regulations could also prevent water contamination, according to the letter. Recent investigations have found that wastewater disposed in injection wells might be seeping through the ground and leaking into the surface or contaminating nearby water sources. But Heidi Hetzel-Evans, spokesperson for ODNR, says regulators have not recorded any groundwater contamination from Class II injection wells in Ohio since ODNR took over the program in 1983.In short, the NRDC letter says ODNR should make more seismic and geological tests mandatory for injection wells. Under current law, ODNR has to suggest more seismic and geological tests. If they were mandatory, all operators would have to run the tests before a wastewater injection well is approved. Along with this requirement, NRDC also calls for more geologic information to be submitted with permit requests. The structure of injection wells is also a concern. In the letter, the organization calls for tougher injection well standards that ensure the wells can withstand corrosive effects from fluids deposited in injection wells and any hydraulic pressure experienced during the dumping and storing process. With these standards, it would be much more difficult for wastewater to leak through the wells. The letter includes additional recommendations that ask for clearer minimum standards, more water tests, checkups on wells, more protections for landowners near injection wells, and more. The full recommendations can be read in the letter here. The call for more regulation is largely in response to new rules that Gov. John Kasich signed in with an executive order on July 12. Hetzel-Evans defended the current rules by pointing out they are flexible yet often stronger than minimum requirements from the Environmental Protection Agency. Hetzel-Evans has not been able to see the full suggestions in the letter yet, but she says one of the strengths of the current rules is that they don’t burden operators with unnecessary tests. She cited the example of some wells being way too shallow for earthquake activity to be an issue. Seismic testings in those wells would serve no purpose, she says. Cincinnati City Council recently banned wastewater injection wells within city limits. But ODNR has received no permit requests for wastewater injection wells in southwestern Ohio. Hetzel-Evans says southwestern Ohio’s geology makes any shale drilling and wastewater injection wells unfeasible.
 
 

What's Worth $1,000,000,000,000?

Ohio's fracking industry isn't, but some stuff is

0 Comments · Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Ohio has a lot of oil and natural gas resources accessible by fracking, but are they worth $1 trillion? Gov. John Kasich seems to think so. Kasich has touted the number to media outlets to support hydraulic fracturing — or “fracking” — in Ohio.   
by Andy Brownfield and German Lopez 08.01.2012
Posted In: News, Development, Environment at 12:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)
 
 
quinlivan

Council Approves Ban on Injection Wells

Quinlivan outlines danger of fracking waste injection in afternoon press conference

Without much fanfare but with supporters looking on in the Losantiville Room in Union Terminal, Cincinnati City Council passed an ordinance on Wednesday banning the injection of wastewater underground within city limits. “I’m proud to be on the first City Council to ban injection wells,” said Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan, who submitted the ordinance to council. “I want to give props to the solicitors … who have come up with a very unusual thing in City Council — a one page ordinance.” The ordinance, which passed unanimously after being voted out of committee on Tuesday, is aimed at preventing the injection of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, under Cincinnati. Its injection has been linked to a dozen earthquakes in northern Ohio. Opponents also worry that the chemicals in the water, which is used to drill underground to free up gas and oil, can seep into drinking water. Oil and gas companies aren’t required to disclose which chemicals they use. It’s unclear if the city’s ban on wastewater injection would hold up against a 2004 state law that gives the state of Ohio sole power in regulating oil and gas drilling. That regulatory power also extends to Class 2 injection wells. At a news conference earlier in the day, Quinlivan cited a ProPublica story that said between 2007 and 2010, one well integrity violation was filed for every six wastewater injection wells. She says data like this makes it clear injection wells are too dangerous. Food and Water Watch organizer Alison Auciello spoke in support of the City Council ordinance at the news conference. “We’re pleased City Council has moved swiftly for the protection of its citizens,” Auciello said. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has received no injection well permit requests for southwestern Ohio, but Auciello says the legislation is a good preventive measure. Heidi Hetzel-Evans, a spokesperson for ODNR, says it wouldn't be feasible to build injection wells in southwestern Ohio due to the region's geology. "It's safe to say oil and gas drilling has no direct impact on southwestern Ohio," Hetzel-Evans says. Auciello says more bans like the Cincinnati ordinance are necessary in Ohio. She says she’s concerned that Ohio is being turned into a dumping ground as massive amounts of wastewater from Pennsylvania are brought to Ohio due to a lack of regulation. Auciello also echoed calls from environmental groups to ban fracking in Ohio. However, fracking supporters — including Gov. John Kasich — insist the process can be made safe with proper regulations.This story was updated to reflect City Council's afternoon vote.
 
 

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