Reader expresses views on fracking, taxes

It is refreshing to see in recent opinions an appropriate degree of skepticism over hydraulic fracking proposals in the Mid-Ohio Valley. There are possibly severe longterm harms here that the industry would have you believe don’t exist. It is very good that Gov. Kasich wants to tax the gas extraction and related activities meaningfully, as deserved, since we can be certain there will be costly related expenses now and down the line that the state and county will incur. The opposing idea, to be gentle with taxes on fracking, makes me chuckle. That extraction companies will abandon lucrative plans for this region, if taxed too much, is an all-too-obvious fear-fantasy, made up by highly paid lobbyists and passed along as a ready-made talking-point for their lackeys in government who themselves benefit mightily from industry largesse.

If there’s an easy lesson to be learned from the ongoing water-safety catastrophes in both Charleston and on the Dan River in North Carolina, it is at least to get a handle on what can go wrong and to anticipate dangers and possible costs in advance of providing the industry with the approval and consent it needs to proceed. For citizens and community leaders who care, it is reasonable to regard fracking with caution, as two recent stories out of Texas clearly warn us. In the first story, as shown on a current Weather Channel documentary, the fracking of the Eagle Ford shale has had bad consequences, not previously foreseen or disclosed. There is now real damage to the air quality and to the health of many local residents, who do not appreciate what has become of their communities and lives, due to the fracking industry activity. Moreover, the supposed government oversight agency is completely unprepared to even initiate testing. Could this happen here in the MOV? Given the high impact nature of the industry activity, what is there to stop it from happening here too?

In the second story, this week Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon-Mobil Corporation, joined a lawsuit to stop the construction of a tower built to store water for fracking in the vicinity of his home and ranch outside Dallas. As party to the lawsuit, Tillerson, who was paid about $40 million by Exxon last year, exhibits the sense of humor to sue based on the damage to his community that will be caused by the heavy trucks, the noise nuisance, and the traffic hazards typical of the fracking industry activity.

Kenneth Itzkowitz