Environmentalists who oppose the development of natural gas from shale are making a serious mistake. Over the last few years, natural gas has been replacing coal as the energy source for producing electricity. This has resulted in a significant reduction of toxic emissions (greenhouse gases) in the United States.
It has also resulted in a reduction of the amount of PM2.5 put into the atmosphere. PM2.5 is particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns; this material easily penetrates lungs and results in cardio-respiratory diseases. Those diseases are responsible for approximately 75,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.
With such positive benefits why would the environmentalists oppose the development of natural gas from shale? Here in our area the concerns fall into two general categories, environmental and local control.
The environmental concerns are mostly false and can be addressed by appropriate legislation. That legislation has been recently passed by our state legislature. This legislation is among the strictest laws in the nation. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is presently writing new rules and regulations based on that legislation.
As for the concern about a lack of local control, this is also mostly false. Although it is true that the ODNR has primacy in granting drilling permits, it is false to claim that local governments have no control at all.
In fact, there is a set of specific regulations that must be followed when granting a drilling permit in an urban area (such as Niles).
The ODNR also works closely with local governments and the associated departments. Drilling permits are not granted in urban areas until the specifications in the regulations are met and the input and concerns of all stakeholders are addressed.
There is an effort in Niles to place an issue on the ballot in May that would ban shale development within the city. If the issue is placed on the ballot I urge voters to see through the rhetoric, hyperbole, false claims etc. and vote ''no.''
Mark R. McGrail