Protesters push for local control over fracking; apologize to Mahoning River


Aired February 12, 2013 on WYSU

Amid optimism that hydraulic fracturing will boost the local economy, there’s growing skepticism about how oil and gas companies are regulated, skepticism shared by members of Frackfree America National Coalition.

News Outlet reporter Andrew Donofrio has the story about This Youngstown activist group that believes shale gas drilling is dangerous.

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The Rev. Monica Beasley-Martin led a worship service Feb. 10 to bless the waters and apologize to the Mahoning River for the recent illegal dumping of fracking waste. (Andrew Donofrio/

(Sounds of people singing: “Wade in the water. Wade in the water, children. Wade in the water.)

On a cold Sunday in February, about 30 people came to the banks of the Mahoning River in Youngstown. The group apologized to the river for the damage caused when the Youngstown company, Hardrock Excavating, dumped about 250,000 gallons of crude oil and brine into a tributary last month.

Frackfree America organized the river apology and blessing.

Frackfree member Bob Parry:

We apologize. We trusted a local company to do the right thing and our regulators to properly oversee their toxic activities.

Frackfree America wants local governments in Ohio to have control over where and how drilling is done in their communities.

 I’m tired of the recklessness of the oil and gas industry just sort of throwing everybody’s safety to the wind, basically, all to eke out a few bucks out of things.

On Feb. 6, its members delivered a petition to city hall. The petition – signed by more than 3,200 residents – asks that a Community Bill of Rights be included on the Ohio Primary Ballot this May. Frackfree hopes the bill of rights, if passed, will give local lawmakers say over how and where gas and oil companies drill within Youngstown city limits.

Sean O’Toole wants more information from gas drilling companies. That would include a list of the chemicals used in the fracking process. (Andrew Donofrio/

Here’s Frackfree member Sean O’Toole:

Basically, it’s just saying we have a right to clean water, clear air and clean life.

O’Toole says the drilling process has been rushed because of promises of an economic boom. Promises he says, if left unchecked, may threaten the environment long term. O’Toole and other Frackfree members say they want information, including a list of the chemicals that the industry pumps into the ground to extract the natural gas and oil.

I need to know what’s in that fluid. What the effects are, what the long-range effects are going to be. And, I want to know that it isn’t going to be killing our children and grandchildren down the line.

For Frackfree member Terry Esarco, there’s a simple explanation: Local control.

The cities can’t do anything right now because the ODNR – they – have the final say so. We’re trying to put it back to the power of the people, the power back to of local government.

For, this is Andrew Donofrio.