It is time the public gets scientifically based facts

August 14, 2023

Dr. Randi Pokladnik


Letter to the Editor,

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with a politician and a few local business owners about the oil and gas industry. Those who supported fracking used the familiar talking points to defend the process and minimize the role it plays in exacerbating the climate crisis.

It was disappointing to be confronted with misrepresentations and falsehoods about the industry. Since the 1980s the fossil fuel industry has made a point of pushing climate denial, even though internal studies by Exxon predicted “by about 2060, CO2 levels would reach around 560 parts per million.”

Contrary to fracking proponents’ claims, volcanoes do not put more carbon dioxide into the air than fossil fuels. “Greenhouse gas emissions from volcanoes comprise less than 1% of those generated by today’s human endeavors.” We don’t need to frack for energy independence.

The data shows much of that fracked gas leaves the country. “Today, the United States is a net exporter of natural gas and one of the top exporters of liquefied natural gas in the world.”

We need to transition away from fossil fuels for national security. In fact, climate change is now a national security priority for the Pentagon. Former Defense Secretary James Mattis said “climate change is real and a threat to American interests abroad and the Pentagon’s assets everywhere.”

Current Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, “There is little about what the department does to defend the American people that is not affected by climate change. It is a national security issue, and we must treat it as such.”

HB6 gutted Ohio’s energy-efficiency programs and stalled renewable energy. Ohio now ranks 39th in terms of power generated by renewables. Solar panels have become more efficient and affordable. Our home has an 8.4 kW rooftop system, and our electric bills are substantially lower, even negative for summer months.

Recently, the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority issued $275 million in bonds to finance the Madison Fields Solar Project in Madison County, Ohio. This project will combine cattle and crops with solar panels: agrivoltaics. By working together on the same land, farmers and energy developers can realize benefits for all involved while preserving the agricultural character of the state’s rural communities.

Because of the “Haliburton Loophole,” fracking is exempt from most major federal environmental laws including the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act. A recent study showed the Ohio EPA is lacking in its ability to address citizens’ complaints about air pollution generated by fracking infrastructure.

Between 2014 and 2021, the industry used 7.2 billion pounds of chemicals that were not identified. Under Ohio law the industry does not have to disclose drilling compounds it deems as being protected by “trade secret” agreements. This also causes a dangerous situation for first responders, many of which are volunteers in rural communities.

Ohio’s ODNR regulations only require a $5,000 bonding for a well and $15,000 total for multiple wells. That would hardly cover any cleanup should an accident occur on or near a state park. It is time the public gets scientifically based facts about this industry, not ill-informed platitudes.