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Dr. Pokladnik: Political Frackers

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Dr. Pokladnik's article was originally published in Ohio Capital Journal on May 22, 2024

Ohio’s Republican politicians will do anything to promote fracking in Ohio. They’ve passed legislation that outlaws protests against oil and gas infrastructure (SB 33); forces Ohio landowners into fracking leases (Ohio Revised Code § 1509.27); restricts solar arrays and wind turbine projects (HB52); eviscerates the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards (HB6); and sacrifices Ohio State Parks (HB 507).

Now former Ohio Democratic politicians Tim Ryan and John Bocierri appear to have become shills for the fossil fuel industry. Both Ryan and Bocierri have cherry picked data that is misleading and scientifically inaccurate. The real threat to national security is climate change, not pausing LNG exports. 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.”

Peer-reviewed studies show that increased fracking has led to increased emissions of methane; a potent greenhouse gas.

Tim Ryan said when he passed the plastics-making Shell Cracker in Monaca, Pennsylvania: “ I looked on with hope and pride: Our region was creating well-paying union jobs in an industry that was fighting climate change”. Plastics contribute to climate change and escalating plastics production will make it impossible to keep global temperature increases below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Our planet is drowning in plastics that are toxic and pervasive in our bodies.

The Shell cracker has been fined over $10 million for air pollution violations, and recently the “Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General’s Environmental Crimes Section filed 13 misdemeanor charges against Shell Falcon Pipeline LP for violating the state’s Clean Streams Law during the construction phase.”

John Bocierri relies on pro-fossil fuel organizations for his employment data. For example, he references a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute as well as the Consumer Energy Alliance, the organization responsible for submitting fraudulent comments to the Ohio Oil and Gas Land Management Commission to advocate for fracking Ohio State Parks.

Research reveals that the industry’s jobs claims are inaccurate. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the industry employs far fewer workers than it claims: about 541,000 nationwide, or less than 0.4 percent of all jobs.” Mike Chadsey, spokesperson for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association admitted that “crews move from one well pad to the next” following the rigs and pipelines.

Ryan touts using new technologies like carbon capture sequestration (CCS) to get us out of this climate disaster. CCS will be funded with taxpayer dollars in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). It has not been proven to work at scale; must be heavily subsidized; props up fossil fuels; takes dollars away from real solutions; and does not address the increasing methane emissions from fracking. Additionally, it will negatively affect frontline communities that are already being sacrificed at the altar of fossil fuels.

The 9th Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking, a compilation of years of scientific research on fracking said, “Our examination uncovered no evidence that fracking can be practiced in a manner that does not threaten human health directly or without imperiling climate stability upon which human health depends”.

We can meet the climate challenge by building grid resilience, adopting renewable energy, and investing in energy efficiency. The Big Wires Act promotes more interregional transmission from areas with available energy to areas that need energy. The Big Wires Act ensures “utilities and other transmission developers would be responsible for upgrading the grid.”

Technological improvements have now made renewable green energy cheaper than fossil fuels. Energy efficiency tax credits in the IRA support projects which will help citizens and the planet.

Ryan speaks about “shrill and impractical voices”; those voices are Ohio citizens crying out for environmental justice. They are not misinformed; they understand exactly what is happening to the planet and their communities.

FaCT

A non-profit dedicated to highlighting the impact of climate change and other environmental issues in the Ohio region and beyond.

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