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Drillers ask for land leases

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An energy company began contacting landowners in Miami Township last week about leasing their land for oil and gas drilling, raising concerns among some residents that a controversial drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing might pollute the local water supply.

Attorney Jon Paul Rion, who owns eight acres along North Enon Road west of Fowler Road, said he declined to sign a lease agreement with West Bay Exploration Company that offered royalties of one-eighth the income generated from any oil and gas well drilled on his property (or a neighbor’s property if part of a drilling unit). For a 160-acre drilling unit Rion’s royalty would be $4,489.50 per acre, assuming the well produced 175 barrels a day and oil was selling for $90 per barrel, according to a letter Rion received from West Bay Exploration.

Initial seismic testing began last November by the Michigan-based company along West Enon and North Fairfield Roads just north of Yellow Springs and along East Enon Road south of Yellow Springs High School. The testing indicated possible underground fossil fuel reserves in the area and the company plans to return for more seismic testing this spring.

As of Monday no newly signed oil and gas lease agreements have been filed at the Greene County Recorder’s Office, said Green Environmental Coalition’s Vickie Hennessy, who has been organizing local residents to oppose oil and gas drilling in the area.

Last month, 125 people attended Hennessy’s local screening of the documentary Gasland, which suggests that hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) — a process in which water and chemicals are injected at high pressure to break up rock reservoirs so more oil and gas can be extracted — may inadvertently contaminate underground aquifers and surface water with hydrocarbons and cancer-causing chemicals.

Meanwhile, geologists at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Mineral Resources Management, which oversees fossil fuel drilling and fracking, maintain that no groundwater contamination has taken place in any of the 80,000 fracked wells in Ohio.

Rion, who owns an additional 167 acres held in a conservation easement across the street, said he would never lease his land for oil and gas drilling.

“I think it’s a threat to the community,” he said. “If a person can’t drink their water or irrigate their fields, these are damages that can’t be repaired.”

Hennessy has scheduled a public meeting for 2 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 12, in the Glen Helen Building to discuss how residents might prevent fracking in the area.

A more extensive article will be featured in the Feb. 17 issue of the News.

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One Response to “Drillers ask for land leases”

  1. Wayne Minnich says:

    I didn’t make it to that meeting on the 12th. Anyone out there who did know what information was presented on how one may help prevent fracking in the area? This is definitely a fight worth fighting.

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