Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fracking Resolution Opposed

Story first appeared on Medina Gazette -

Business leaders spoke out against a proposed anti-fracking resolution at Monday night’s City Council meeting.

Michael Baach, president and CEO of Philpott Rubber, urged Council to reconsider the resolution, which would put the city on record opposing state laws regulating hydraulic fracturing, better known as “fracking,” throughout Ohio.

The resolution cites concerns over chemicals used in the fracturing process and the infringement of the city’s home rule authority by the state.

Baach said his company is concerned about the resolution because one of Philpott’s subsidiaries is Petco, which creates one of the chemical solutions used in the wells.

Baach said he feared the resolution might deter companies that supply hydraulic fracturing products from moving or keeping their operations in Brunswick.

“We’re here, we’re loyal and we’re a part of the community,” Baach told the Council. “The publicity (passage of the resolution would bring) would put a huge burden on us.”

Baach said Philpott will be celebrating 125 years in business this year. Petco, which was started in 2012, now comprises 25 percent of his total business.

He said the products he manufactures are safe, and he thinks Brunswick’s industrial parks could be a key location for other businesses related to hydraulic fracturing.

Baach said the resolution would send the wrong message.

“Anti-anything can be received as anti-everything if you’re not careful,” he said.

While the geology of rock formations doesn’t favor drilling in Medina County, Baach said Brunswick is an ideal location for suppliers of companies drilling in eastern Ohio, such as Carroll County.

Drilling work in eastern Ohio has driven demand for every service up in areas closest to the wells, he said.

Hotel costs have skyrocketed along with local property values.

But Brunswick is close enough to support drilling work.

“I’d be putting up billboards advertising our location,” Baach said.

Ken Schlick of the Brunswick Chamber of Commerce, joined Baach in opposing the resolution, saying it might damage Brunswick’s image as a friendly place for business.

Mike Chadsey, of Energy In Depth Ohio Campaign, said he represents oil and gas companies throughout Ohio and offered Council members the opportunity to visit well sites and ask questions.

One resident addressed Council in support of the resolution.

Richard Prospal said he had serious concerns about the safety of the water supply and said the industry’s term “brine water” used to describe the solution injected into hydraulic fracturing wells was deceiving and could include other chemicals not disclosed by well operators.

“I think preservation of our water supply is tantamount,” Prospal said. “I support the resolution on the books.”

Council took no action on the resolution, saying more time was needed before making a decision.

The ordinance initially was proposed by Councilwoman Pat Hanek, at large.

She was joined by several other Council members who said they would support the ordinance.

In other action Monday, members approved amending a contract between Zaremba and Associates and the city until May 26 to provide more time to negotiate how to transfer Zaremba’s 67 lots in Brunswick Lakes to Drees homes.

City Law Director Ken Fisher said the timeline for repaying the debt to the city would stay the same.

Zaremba owes $394,090 that was supposed to be repaid to the city when he developed the lots.

Council’s Committee-of-the-Whole also agreed to put a request from Giant Eagle for a 922-square-foot extension of its cafe restaurant on Council’s agenda.

The proposal was given a first reading. A final vote was expected after the extension goes before the city Planning Commission.