Johnstown residents will have an opportunity July 18 to learn their rights in regard to fracking.

Johnstown residents will have an opportunity July 18 to learn their rights in regard to fracking.

Members of an anti-fracking group called Ohio Community Rights Network will present a fracking presentation and discuss how Johnstown residents could ensure local control over shale-gas drilling and fracking waste water during a meeting at 7 p.m. in Village Council chambers, 599 S. Main St.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a technique in which shale rock is fractured by a pressurized liquid to recover gas and oil.

"The folks organizing the meeting are from the central Ohio area," said Carolyn Harding, meeting organizer. "We have contacts with friends in Johnstown. We hear linemen are knocking on doors for fracking. There have also been meetings for landowners. Before signing leases, we think folks should have information that we've gotten so they have more than one side of the story."

Johnstown residents, along with many others throughout the state, are facing shale-gas drilling, fracking wastewater and liquid-natural-gas pipelines, Harding said.

"We want to offer the community of Johnstown more information than the oil-and-gas industry will give," Harding said. "It's important to find out how fracking development can affect your water, your soil, your family's health, property value and your rights to protect your community."

Many of the meeting presenters are working on the Columbus Community Bill of Rights and Franklin County Charter Community Bill of Rights to preserve clean air, water and soil and assert their right to local self-government.

Greg Pace, a founder of Columbus Community Bill of Rights, will present the basics during the meeting.

Dr. Julie Weatherington-Rice, a senior scientist at Bennett and Williams Environmental Consultants in Westerville, will discuss the watershed.

"We'll be talking about what some communities have experienced in Ohio already and what a community can do if they don't want (fracking) to come in the community," Harding said.

She said the nonprofit has 17 board members with 17 cities and counties working on the bill of rights to protect water and soil.

"Most people don't know that there are 13 active frack waste water injection wells in the Columbus-area watershed," said Deb Crawford, a Columbus resident and petitioner.

"Some grew concerned when the Ohio EPA permitted potentially radioactive frack waste drill cuttings to be processed along the Alum Creek. Radioactive frack waste (water and solid) could increase the risk of cancer and illness in our community."

Mike Chadsey, director of public relations for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, which favors fracking, said he doesn't see drilling occurring in Johnstown.

Most drilling over the past several years has been in Belmont, Monroe and Carroll counties, he said.

Chadsey said he has participated in panels with Ohio Community Rights Network leaders about oil and gas.

"It's good to have conversation and debates about the issue," he said. "What we see from them is misleading statements and half-truths that I don't believe are necessarily intentional.

"That's not to say they haven't brought up legitimate concerns. Our response is to address concerns and questions."

He said the rights network doesn't affect his association.

Chadsey said Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 1509 gives Ohio Department of Natural Resources exclusive authority over oil and gas.

The Columbus Community Bill of Rights follows similar initiatives that have successfully passed in other cities.

Currently, five Ohio counties -- Athens, Franklin, Fulton, Medina and Meigs -- plus the cities of Columbus, Waterville and Youngstown, are working toward getting local control through ballot-initiative efforts.

For information about Ohio Community Rights Network, visit columbusbillofrights.org.

For information about the Ohio Oil & Gas Association, visit ooga.org.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla