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Years of Questioning, Multiple Earthquakes Finally Provoke State Response

New permit terms vindicate Rep. Hagan's tireless push for stronger regulation of oil and gas industry, renew skepticism of political targeting
April 11, 2014
Democrat Newsroom

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio– After one month of denying any link existed between recent earthquakes in Poland Township and nearby fracking activity – and over two years after the first round of major earthquakes hit the Mahoning Valley – officials at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources finally acknowledged today that the state’s current permitting procedures for fracking are exceedingly lax.

Today, ODNR officials announced tougher permit conditions after finally admitting that the recent seismic events in Poland Township show a probable connection to fracking activity near a previously unknown microfault.

“We clearly have a situation where Kasich administration officials ignored repeated calls for greater safeguards against seismic activity caused by the fracking process,” said Rep. Hagan. “Instead of responding to my calls for action, ODNR and the Kasich Administration unfairly targeted me as an enemy of fracking, and even developed a plan to discredit my concerns. If they truly worked in a bipartisan, democratic way to address public health and safety concerns, our state wouldn’t be so slow to recognize these obvious shortfalls.”

An August 2013 memo from Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources was released that shows the regulatory agency working closely with big oil and gas companies and Gov. Kasich to identify, stifle and suppress groups and elected officials concerned with drilling in state parks. The document targets Democratic legislators and environmental watch groups as part of a strategy to marginalize public concern and advance oil and gas interests.

Over the past two general assemblies, Rep. Hagan has introduced nearly a dozen bills aimed at strengthening Ohio’s fracking regulations. Rep. Hagan’s legislation has been largely ignored by the Republican-dominated state legislature.

Rep. Hagan has accumulated a lengthy record of correspondence—some of which remains unanswered—related to fracking hazards and regulations between his office and the state agencies charged with oversight of the fracking process.