Athens City Residents Voice Concerns About Fracking

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When the topic of hydraulic fracturing came up at a townhall meeting recently, 1st Ward Representative Kent Butler says he felt he needed to offer concerned residents a chance to voice their opinions.

Butler opened up the floor during last night's city council meeting for comments on the process, commonly known as fracking.  About a dozen people took to the podium.

Christine Hayes, owner of local restaurants Village Bakery and Della Zona, said she has fears about the possible effects fracking may have on area water and air quality.  "If you sit here as a city official and believe that the state and federal government are going to protect us from these possible dangers, I think you are mistaken," she told city council members.

A number of speakers listed possible destruction to natural habitats and scenery as one of their main concerns.  Resident Alyssa Bernstein said any devastating changes to the area may have a ripple effect on the tourism industry. "Why do they come to southern and southeastern ohio? I believe because of the natural beauty and because of our state parks and the lakes. Fracking, using millions of gallons of water per well and resulting in water pollution and potentially, I believe, affecting the lake water and not to mention the scenic beauty of the area, where the fracking takes place I believe could seriously negatively impact tourism in this area and that means the economy.  That means jobs here."

Butler wrapped up the session by telling residents he was committed to looking into the issue.  Mayor Paul Wiehl encouraged those concerned to write members of the Athens County Commissioners to get them involved and informed of citizen unease.