Ohio’s transparency-allergic treasurer and U.S. senate candidate Josh Mandel (R) is finally stepping out on stage by offering a certain type of policy positions: wildly unpopular. Mandel endorsed Gov. John Kasich’s (R) anti-labor law early this summer, insisting that Senate Bill 5 — a bill that was resoundingly defeated by police and firefighters — “is about respecting police and firefighters.” Now, Mandel is demanding that Ohio officials open up a national forest in Ohio to fracking — a policy 70 percent of Ohioans oppose. And he wants it done immediately.
Ohio’s Wayne National Forest is host to oil and gas wells, but none as deep and dangerous as those created by fracking, a method of deep natural gas drilling. The plan to lease 3,302 acres during a Dec. 7 public auction “inspired new fears” in Athens, OH about the possible pollution of the area water supply. These concerned prompted Wayne National Forest supervisor Anne Carey to withdraw the auction and begin an evaluation process that could take up to six months. Mandel slammed Carey for her concern, insisting that places like Mahoning Valley (which is about 150 miles away from the park) “will greatly benefit from fracking“:
“The Mahoning Valley is one of the areas that will greatly benefit from fracking,” said Mandel, who called The Vindicator on Thursday to discuss the issue as well as criticize a decision by a national forest supervisor in the Athens area for postponing a plan to lease more than 3,000 acres for oil and gas drilling.[…]
Mandel said the gas-and-oil business is booming and “a delay in drilling is a delay in job creation for the state of Ohio.”
The business can “rejuvenate parts of Ohio,” including the Valley, he said.
Once again, Mandel’s idea of “benefit” is questionable. Fracking has a long history of groundwater pollution, leaving entire towns with highly-contaminated water supplies. Indeed, some contaminated wells have been found to contain extremely high levels leukemia-causing benzene while others left people filling dizzy and caused horses and pets to lose their hair.
Ohio itself doesn’t have the greatest record with natural gas. One Cleveland home actually blew up after fracking forced gas into its water well. Just this week, a natural gas pipeline just south of the national park in Ohio exploded this week, “causing fires that destroyed three houses and a barn.” It’s the second to occur this year. Perhaps this is why Ohioans are dead set against the idea. Or perhaps this is just Mandel’s idea of rejuvenation.