Protesters Kicked Out Of Public Forum On Injection Wells

By
Associated Press
Christa Lamendola

Dateline
Updated Thu, Nov 29, 2012 4:50 pm

UPDATE: 9:00 a.m.

Around 100 protesters were escorted from a public forum over injection gas drilling in Athens County Wednesday night.

Members of the group Appalachia Resist, who are against a proposed waste well for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, were removed after chanting and shouting their opposition during what state officials had called an "open house" on the proposal.

Officials ordered protestors removed after Appalachia Resist member and former Athens County Commissioner Roxanne Groff announced she was the moderator of the event and would take statements from the public.

The event was supposed to allow the public to meet with experts to discuss the proposed injection well in Coolville.  If approved it would be the fifth injection well in Athens County.

An Ohio Department of Natural Resources official told Groff an open house is for the public to ask questions to experts, but the public was not to make any statements.

"These people became disruptive to the process," the department's Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management chief, Rick Simmers said. "There are people here that want to have their questions answered. They want to have a dialogue with an expert and we want that to occur."

But Appalachia Resist members argue the agency is not listening to demands for a public hearing, citing the more than 100 requests sent to the agency asking for one.

"A public hearing is when public comments can be entered into the legal record and it's also the standard for ODNR's citizen redress," activist Madeline ffitch said. "An open house does not address public concerns in a way that would hold ODNR officially accountable for their actions."

Simmers said there were comment cards available during the open house that would be published and have official responses from ODNR officials.  He did add that any verbal comments made in the open house would not be considered public comments.


UPDATE: 11/29/12

Around 100 protesters were escorted from a public forum over injection gas drilling in Athens County.

Members of the group Appalachia Resist, who are against a proposed waste well for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, were removed after chanting and shouting their opposition during what state officials had called an "open house" on the proposal.

The opponents were already angry that the state decided to conduct the public forum instead of a formal hearing where their statements would become part of the official record.

The protesters escorted out of the meeting regrouped with others outside to continue the demonstration.

The plan faces strong opposition from some in Athens County, who fear it could contaminate drinking water. The state says that risk is minuscule.


Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials and Athens community members are expected to discuss a proposed injection well Wednesday night.

The group of Athens residents, which includes members of Appalachia Resist, say they hope to send a message to the ODNR officials that they do not want fracking waste dumped in Athens County.

They are expected to walk from the Athens Community Center to the ODNR offices, just a couple of blocks away, where a public meeting will take place.

While Wednesday's meeting is expected to focus specific injection well that requires a state permit, those in attendance will likely also discuss waste disposal and hydraulic fracturing.

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