News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Lehmans

Northeast Ohio Medical University


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Environment


Ohio EPA fast-tracks fracking permits
The Ohio EPA wants to minimize the impact of fracking on wetlands by encouraging drillers to choose a fast-track permit or face a sea of red-tape
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
The Ohio EPA is proposing a fast-track permit that could lessen shale gas drilling's impact on wetlands. The new general permit will apply to fracking operations like this one in Carroll County.
Courtesy of Tim Rudell
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

The public comment period ends today on a proposal to fast-track the permitting process for shale gas drillers in Ohio IF they minimize their impact on sensitive wetlands.  

WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports, it’s a carrot and stick approach where an environmental group may hold the stick.

EPA's fast-track fracking permit

Other options:
MP3 Download (3:39)


(Click image for larger view.)

While the federal EPA is studying how shale gas drilling may pollute ground water, the Ohio EPA trying to address the impact fracking could have on surface waters.

Any activity that impacts wetlands in Ohio requires approval from the state, and a plan to replace those wetlands.

The Ohio EPA already offers this fast-track general permit to industries ranging from mining to dry-cleaning, if the companies promise to minimize their impact on air and water quality.  But until now, the shale-gas industry has not had the fast-track option.

Ohio EPA’s Mike Settles says the new permit limits the impact of fracking operations to less than half-an-acre of a medium-quality wetland and damage to fewer than 300 feet of streams.

“We want to provide a stream-lined mechanism for these companies, this industry, to do what it wants to do without adversely impacting the environment.  If they’re going to adversely impact the environment, then we want them to compensate for those impacts.”

One environmental group is giving the plan the thumbs up.

“We like the fact that it excludes the high-quality streams and wetlands.”

Anthony Sasson with the Nature Conservancy says, by encouraging drillers to avoid pristine waters, the new general permit gets the carrot and stick balance right.

“The general permit is not necessarily lowering the standards, but it is definitely speeding up the process.”

But even under the fast-track permit, operators will need to fix or replace wetlands and streams impacted by drilling through a process called mitigation.   

How much mitigation the fracking boom will generate is anyone’s guess.  Chesapeake Energy, for example, has leased 1.5 million acres in eastern Ohio, and could drill 12,000 fracking wells in the next few years.

Given that volume, state agencies will face a backlog of impacted streams and wetlands that will require mitigation.

And that’s where Vince Messerly of the Ohio Wetland Foundation says the system begins to break down.

“We just don’t know how that’s going to happen yet.”

Messerly wonders whether state agencies like the EPA are ready to handle a flood of mitigations from the shale-gas drilling boom.

“If the state will actually be doing the implementation, or if they will be hiring third parties to do that work.  And we don’t know to what standard they’ll hold themselves to.  Those are all questions that we would like to find answers for.”

The Ohio Wetland Foundation is one of a handful of groups that run mitigation banks that operate in some parts of the state.

The banks get funding from developers that destroy wetlands and use that money to buy new wetlands or restore old ones.

But streams are a different story. Messerly says lack of clarity from the state is hampering his group’s efforts. 

“We have not pursued a stream mitigation bank in Ohio for the most part because there are no policies that establish how stream mitigation is to be evaluated.” 

Eastern Ohio, where most of the fracking will take place, does not have mitigation banks.

So Ohio recently provided a $25,000 grant to the Nature Conservancy to develop a program to address a backlog of streams and wetland mitigation.  The Nature Conservancy’s Bill Stanley says his group hopes to have a plan in place early next year.

“I think we could try and coach from the sideline and provide input, but we decided this is so important that we should get more involved and exercise more leadership.”

The proposed fast-track general permit for shale gas drilling could be in place early this spring.  The public comment period ends today.


Related Links & Resources
Fracking next door

Ohio EPA shale gas general permit website

Listener Comments:

Protecting the environment is fine, but forcing their restrictions - not what citizens have agreed is detrimental, on businesses is not fine.
The EPA sets standards, private businesses and consumers pay - "If they’re going to adversely impact the environment, then we want them to compensate for those impacts.” - sounds like the EPA, not citizens have the power and control.
People pay taxes so the government can do their job - why aren't these taxes used to help businesses meet EPA demands, rather than taxing business to meet a demand/leadership that might be better defined as you have no choice, do what I say.


Posted by: the tax,man on January 14, 2012 9:01AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Ohio Republicans protest the loss of Mt. McKinley
I believe the U.S.gov't. was overstepping its bounds by renaming a mountain that belongs to Alaska. How would we like it if Alaska (or any other state) telling ...

Pluto: University of Akron cuts baseball - should football be next?
remember when akron and Youngstown state were both in the ovc. As a Morehead State fan, made trips to both schools and had a wonderful experience. Played Akron ...

Ohio to aid young adults who age out of foster care
I think it's a great idea. I worked for an at risk high school and it was really sad to see the amount of kids who had no where to go because they had aged out...

Could University Circle developments ripple into East Cleveland?
Outsiders are so far off the beaten path and you all need to attend the meeting being held today 8/31/15 Cleveland Public Library, 1:00 PM. http://44112news.co...

ResponsibleOhio leader says the state is trying to set Issue 3 up for failure
Ohio suppose to believe that a group of investors were united under one cause to legalize marijuana.Once legal they all of sudden turn into 10 different compani...

Terry Pluto: U of A's new athletic director has the toughest job in town
It is a hard sell. The Students do not want to go to the football games and they do not want to pay for the program. They have a lot of student loan debt and t...

Akron considering the future of the B.F. Goodrich smokestacks
This BFGoodrich alumna says, "Thank you, Dave Lieberth!"

State creates panel to look at Ohio charter school sponsors
It is more than disturbing that charter schools, which seemed like a good idea years ago, have begun to cripple public school education.

DEVO mural in Akron is now on display downtown
The installation is not at the former site of Chili Dog Mac. CDM was one block north on the other side of Main St.

New report shows growth in white collar jobs for Northeast Ohio
Unfortunately, there are fewer jobs in comparison to the number of professionals applying for them. I have been had a full time job since June 2012. In order to...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University