Fracking protests held

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Hydraulic fracturing protestors rallied on Courthouse Square in Warren Monday.

The group Don’t Frack Ohio organized the protest that drew dozens of anti-fracking groups from all over the state.

Organizers said they want to make people aware about injection wells, in which fracking waste is stored.

‘They are pumping it at high pressures under the ground,” said protest organizer John Williams. “I don’t know where they think these toxins are going to go, but they got to go somewhere.”

Williams said he is upset that state officials have over-ridden Niles and Weathersfield Township ordinances passed last year that bans injection wells in their areas.

“Basically we are here today to ask people to get off the couch, back their elected officials,” Williams said. “Their local elected officials know they’ve done the right thing, back them, and if need be, get behind them.”

Rebecca Moore is concerned about the effect fracking has on well water in her neighborhood. She brought her children along to the rally as a teaching tool.

“Part of it is education, learning how we need to support the environment and support our communities, and this is something that affects everybody,” said Moore. “I wanted them to be part of this.”

Supporters of fracking were also at the rally, stationed directly across from the protesters. Local labor unions believe protesters are misinformed saying oil and gas companies go two to three steps above state regulations. They also touted the job opportunities that come with industry.

“Where the oil and gas industry is taking place are areas that primarily had the highest rate of unemployment. Now, they are saying they have the lowest,” said Michael Bertolone, IUOE Local 18. “We see the economic impact it has and the jobs it creates.”

State Representative Sean O’Brien said Ohio has the toughest laws on the books when it comes to fracking and the state punishes those who break the law.

“There are bad actors out there but with the monitoring that we have now, the response from ODNR, when we see this happen and find out about it, we can respond quickly and get it solved.,” said O’Brien.

After the rally in Warren, about 50 anti fracking demonstrators made their way to Newton Township.  They protested at an injection well on Route 5.  State troopers were called to the scene but made no arrests since the demonstrators were not blocking the road.

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