Fracking In and Around Ohio State Parks Raises Many Concerns (Part 1)

by admin on July 31, 2023

Save Ohio Parks-sponsored picnic and anti-fracking rally for Salt Fork State Park features speakers from seven environmental organizations across the state.

PART 1. Save Ohio Parks’ allies rally to fight against fracking

From the Article by Paul Becker, Martins Ferry Times Leader, July 5, 2023

LORE CITY, Ohio — Environmental agencies across Ohio rallied Saturday, July 1st, at Salt Fork State Park to protest fracking under Ohio state parks forests, wildlife areas and other public lands. Salt Fork is the first park on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources list to be fracked by natural gas and oil developers.

About 65 people from Save Ohio Parks, the Ohio Environmental Council, Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Council, Third Act, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Leave No Child Inside and Sierra Club Ohio picnicked and rallied against the new Ohio law that requires fracking under state parks and public lands.

Save Ohio Parks is a new nonprofit made up of volunteers from across the state. Speakers touched on fracking’s effects on animals, plants and soils; methane and toxic chemical effects on human health; and how fracking could impact Ohio state parks’ freshwater lakes, streams and creeks.

Randi Pokladnik, Ph.D., a research chemist and ecologist from Urichsville, said fracking Ohio’s state parks and public lands will destroy natural habitats, reduce native plants and animals and irretrievably alter the face of Ohio’s taxpayer-supported and protected natural places.

“The mixed mesophytic forests that make up Salt Fork State Park and many of the other state lands in southeast Ohio are second only to the Amazon rainforest for diversity,” she said. “Fracking on or near these lands will permanently alter the land and aquatic ecosystems and negatively affect the species which depend on them. Fracking is not compatible with a healthy forest ecosystem.”

An unnamed oil and gas company has applied to frack 281 parcels with 16 well pads surrounding Salt Fork’s 20,000-acre park at distances as close as 400 feet from park borders.

Well pads can sit on 5- to 10-acre plots of land clear cut of trees. The pads are paved with cement, with a fracking rig around 120 feet tall installed on the pad. Typically, 4 million to 10 million gallons of fresh water are taken from local lakes and streams for each fracked well. Eighty-nine wells will be fracked at Salt Fork alone, and each well will require multiple frackings.

Undisclosed combinations of chemicals, sand and water and used to fracture the shale layers and allow trapped gas and oil to travel to the surface, with fracking wastewater transported by trucks to injection wells for storage. The water is effectively taken out of the drinking supply forever. Millions of gallons of fresh water, if not billions, will come from Salt Fork and the streams that surround it.

According to reports by Columbus TV station WCMH, HB 507 took effect in April and was immediately challenged in court. On April 10, Franklin County Judge Kimberly Cocroft denied environmental groups’ request that she temporarily block the state’s enforcement of HB 507, which makes it easier for oil and gas companies to obtain a fracking lease for Ohio’s state park lands.

The lawsuit claimed state lawmakers “skirted constitutional requirements when considering HB 507.” Cocroft dismissed claims that expanded drilling could corrupt Ohio’s public land and those who enjoy it. “The Court finds that any reference regarding an injury to the recreational, cultural, and aesthetic interests in the lands to the plaintiffs’ members is speculative, at best, and does not constitute an immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage,” Cocroft wrote.

In December, Encino Energy of Texas, which acquired all of Chesapeake Energy’s holdings in Ohio in 2018, offered the state up to $2 billion in royalties and signing bonuses for the right to drill under Salt Fork State Park in Guernsey County, according to records provided by the ODNR.

The company’s initial request was denied to allow the state’s Oil and Gas Land Management Commission time to finalize rules governing the administration of those leases. The process is now in place with an online portal available for applications.

See Part 2 tomorrow. To learn more, visit the Save Ohio Parks website at


NOTE ~ SOME 425 PARCELS IN SALT FORK STATE PARK ~ All in Guernsey County and a part of Salt Fork State Park. Identified Formation: Utica Shale, Point Pleasant Formation

Public Comments due by September 2, 2023. The title line of your email should read as follows: Public Comments on Nomination #: 23-DNR-0009.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Randi Pokladnik July 31, 2023 at 10:27 am

Activists are just citizens who care about Ohio’s Parks

Submitted by Randi Pokladnik, Save Ohio Parks, July 30, 2023

Recently, Energy in Depth, a pro-fossil fuel publication published a piece about the Ohio citizens who are trying to stop the leasing and fracking of Ohio’s public lands (Save Ohio Parks). The EID author specifically targeted a June meeting of the Ohio Oil and Gas Land Commission where Dr. Ted Auch, Youngstown Battalion Chief Silverio Caggiano and I, presented fact-based evidence as to why fracking on or near Ohio’s parks would be disastrous for the parks, park visitors, and local residents. Throughout the EID article, experts and citizen members of Save Ohio Parks were referred to as “activists”.

People who care about the environment are often labeled by the opposition. We’ve been called tree-huggers, hippies, snowflakes, and protestors. The fossil fuel industry is especially fond of the label “activists”. The definition of an activist is: a person who engages in social or political actions to make the world a better place.

It is not uncommon for environmental activists to be the target of ridicule and legal actions from corporations they are challenging. Rachel Carson, the author of Silent Spring, the most read environmental book ever published was viciously attacked by the pesticide industry. Citizens are also the target of SLAPP suits. SLAPP stands for a strategic lawsuit against public participation. Unlike the majority of states, Ohio does not have anti-slapp laws to protect free speech.

Ironically, citizens taxes go towards subsidizing fossil fuels. “Conservative estimates put U.S. direct subsidies to the fossil fuel industry at roughly $20 billion per year; with 20 percent currently allocated to coal and 80 percent to natural gas and crude oil.” Yet, when it comes to cleaning up their environmental messes, the taxpayers are left with that tab too.

One can still see the lasting impact strip-mining has had on the counties of SE Ohio. Streams still run orange from acid mine drainage; the acidic, iron-sulfide-containing water that results from coal mining. Currently, federal funding (STREAM ACT) is helping to pay for the cleanup of millions of miles of contaminated streams.

Ohio’s citizens are still dealing with old oil and gas wells left from conventional drilling which occurred, in some cases, over a century ago. These wells are dubbed “orphan wells” because they have been left or abandoned by an unknown company. They continue to leak methane, the dangerous heat-trapping greenhouse gas into our atmosphere. Ohio has identified over 900 wells but some estimate the number of abandoned wells to be in the thousands. Federal infrastructure money is being used to help plug some wells.

Throughout history, Appalachian residents have had to live with the destruction left behind from extractive industries. Now the externalities of fracking will be perpetrated on our beautiful state parks. We know from experience and countless peer-reviewed studies that fracking causes health problems, produces light and noise pollution, requires enormous amounts of freshwater, creates thousands of gallons of radioactive produced water and emits dangerous water and air pollutants. Yet 81 Ohio Republican politicians and our governor went ahead and pushed through the legislation (HB 507) that allows fracking of our lands.

Governor DeWine has said the well pads will not be on the park land, but Ohio has some of the most lenient set-back laws for fracked wells in the nation. Ohio Code 1509.021 says “a well shall not be within 50 feet of a stream, river, watercourse, water well, pond, lake, or other body of water and 150 feet of a property boundary.” The lights, noise, water and air emissions will certainly leave the well pad area.

Long after a well is fracked, the fracking infrastructure including gathering lines, compressor stations and storage containers, leak volatile organic compounds into the rural communities. Earthworks has photographed and filmed this infrastructure with special thermal imaging cameras (FLIR GASFINDER 320 Infrared Camera). The cameras are also able to identify the compounds leaking from the structures which include: benzene, methane, octane, toluene and MEK.

One cannot claim to want a livable planet and turn the state’s parks into a fossil fuel mineral colony for an industry that is basically killing the earth. Those Ohio citizens that the fossil fuel industry labels as “activists” are moms and dads, grandpas and grandmas, fishermen, boaters, hunters, bikers, doctors, teachers, and scientists. We know what is right and wrong.

Allowing out-of-state companies to come into our state parks, to forever damage them so they can extract our resources for a profit is wrong. Preserving our state lands for generations to come and protecting our planet from climate change is right.

In the words of Utah Phillips, “The Earth is not dying, she is being killed, and those that are doing it have names and addresses.”


Cathy Becker September 9, 2023 at 4:11 pm

Hi there — Thanks so much for running this story. However it was written by Melinda Zemper of Save Ohio Parks. Paul Becker is the photographer who took that photo, but the story is by Melinda Zemper. You can find the original story here –


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