Fracking and Farmland: Stories from Ohio’s Fields
COLUMBUS, Ohio - As the oil and gas fracking industry grows in Ohio, farmers' concerns are mounting about the possible effects on public health, the food supply and the land.
Kip Gardner of Creekview Ridge Farm in Carroll County is in the process of becoming organically certified. He says the toxic chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing have the potential to contaminate the water and soil, endanger livestock and threaten the food supply. He says nearly all of his neighbors have signed fracking leases, and he's concerned that a process known as "mandatory pooling" will force him into a lease.
"We've been approached, I think, four times now by Chesapeake and BP about signing leases," he said, "and so far they have not offered any terms that we consider adequate to protect what we are doing on the farm."
Mandatory pooling allows the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to authorize access to non-leased land once oil and gas companies have acquired leases for 65 percent of the land in a drilling unit.
Gardner says it's disappointing that private interests can trump his rights as a landowner.
"It feels as if the land is ours until somebody else wants to do something with it," he declared. "And you know it's not even public domain; it's a private company."
Gardner is one of several producers sharing their personal story from the field about how the fracking boom is affecting their land and operations. The profiles are featured in a new online series offered by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association. The stories can be found at policy.oeffa.org.
The web pages feature several stories, including a cattle producer from Windsor, Ohio, concerned about contamination from nearby injection well sites, and a poultry producer in Stark County worried about the negative effect of fracking on the connection between successful farming and the health of the soil, water and air.