The State of Ohio launched a PR campaign against us, and they’re losing.

This morning the Sierra Club revealed what community activists, clean water advocates and Ohio Fracktion have been saying for years: the Ohio Department of Natural Resources really works to facilitate, not regulate, fracking for big industry.

Read EcoWatch article

A recent public records request by the Sierra Club turned up a evidence of a program hatched between the supposed regulators at ODNR and the industry they not-so-secretly promote. Their main objective this time was to pave the way for ceding mineral rights from the state parks to industry to engage in the experimental and danger-ridden fracking of shale.  However, one thing stood in their way: the public’s concern for their safe drinking water.  The solution: launch a secret PR campaign with leading industry groups to mislead the public about the dangers of fracking and marginalize Ohio Fracktion and other advocacy groups.  Read the full memo here.

The blatant abuse of ODNR’s public resources and influence to do industry PR is insulting.  It shows what we have learned the hard way – that ODNR takes the job of increasing industry profits more seriously than preventing activity that threatens our land, water and people.  It shows that they see a world of allies in big business and enemies in those who are fighting for democratic control and safe drinking water. ODNR sees their duties within a world divided between allies and enemies along these strict corporate lines.

The document presents us with neat lists of each: the administration, big business, and drilling companies fall into the allies category, and the citizens ODNR is bound to protect into the the “opponents” and “adversaries”. Top of the “allies” listed are Governor Kasich, JobsOhio, the Ohio EPA, and other such allies as the US Chamber of Commerce, The Ohio Oil and Gas Association, and Halliburton.  In with the “adversaries” competing for the top prize with the Sierra Club and Bob Hagan were yours truly, Ohio Fracktion. Those with concerns of their drinking water are the “neutrals” whose only role is to be moved (not listened to or partnered with) as passive objects of ODNR administration.

odnr iconopposition groups

To be listed as one of their top “opposition groups” is a high honor we as Ohio Fracktion gladly accept. Our work as a collective of organizers and residents started on the belief that clean water and democratic control are human rights that no industry can take away and that no one deserves to be poisoned or have their land taken for another’s profit. As the ODNR has used its ‘regulation’ as a cart-blanch for drilling and treated anyone in the industry’s way as expendable, we’re not surprised they have named us as enemies – in fact, we’re honored they did.  ODNR’s lack of respect for the public was made abundantly clear when members of our group were arrested for attempting to peacefully enter their public office during business hours in order to set up meetings for residents whose water was contaminated by next-door drilling. And so while bailing our friends out of jail we learned the hard way that attempting to negotiating with bought and paid for regulators was as effective as pushing a boulder up a hill over and over and over and over again.

This documents sheds light on the extent to which ODNR is a tool to promote drilling, reaching heights of absurdity.  They hide behind ridiculously false claims to be able to magically “allow no negative impact on park or forest lands” and to “have some of the nation’s strictest safeguards in place to make sure there is no danger to public health or the environment”  No danger?  No negative impact? To protect such blatant falsehoods the PR campaign laid plans for Orwellian “truth squads” to bury alarming information with letters to the editor, news releases, and letters to supporters to confront those on the ‘opponents’ list.  The sad irony is that memo focuses on strengthening industry messaging rather than providing any details of how they will protect parks from disturbance or prevent exposure of neighbors and visitors from toxins. They plan for public meetings to change public opinion, but not to work with resident with open minds.

However, in places the authors are remarkably perceptive.  They list that opponents will communicate “aggressively to the news media and online to cast this initiative as ‘risky and radical,’  and that we will attempt to “legally and physically halt the drilling.”  We will “create public panic [awareness] about perceived [experienced] health risks.”  The reason why these tactics are their greatest concern is THAT THEY WORK: when we fight back we win.  Through legal battles, civil disobedience, and public education that leads to reclaiming of democratic control, small and large groups across Ohio are providing effective resistance to this social and environmental devastation.

If there is something to learned from these documents it’s that when our state regulators at the ODNR are willing collaborators in the attack on our lives Ohioans will continue to have no option but to place our bodies on the line to protect the places and people we care about.  And as catastrophe after catastrophe pile up on ODNR’s watch, they have become their own worst enemy to persuading the public that they act in good faith on our behalf. They launched a fancy PR war against us to promote drilling, but we’re winning.

Having no faith in the ODNR for their repeated and criminal abuse of public trust and good faith:

  • We demand that the ODNR be brought under Federal investigation for other evidence of criminal practice.
  • We demand that all permits for oil and gas related activities be halted pending an independent review made up of a commission including leading environmental advocates and citizen groups impacted by drilling permits.
  • We demand the resignation of ODNR officials who allowed public resources to be used for corporate advocacy public relations.

We won’t stop until they do.  No Drilling.  No Compromise.
-Ohio Fracktion

Ohio Fracktion: Where We Stand Today

Ohio Fracktion was created as one of the first cries of alarm and lines of resistance to the increasing activity of the fracking industry in Northeast Ohio. In 2011 we were facing evidence of destruction on countless fronts from poisoned groundwater to explosions and earthquakes, and we had no illusions about the obstruction and the complicity of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. It was painfully obvious that the Fracking Industry was destructive on every level: taking advantage of fleeting corporate gains with no regard for the people who live in our state. We were witnessing an extraction practice so destructive that it could never be done safely and saw that the industry clearly had more interest in making money than protecting the safety of residents, workers and the land.

Appalachia Resist

Appalachia Resist! shuts down injection well using nonviolent direct action

In response we launched Ohio Fracktion as a Non-Violent Direct Action Campaign to take back control from the industry and demand our rights to clean water and democratic control. We kicked off our public début with a blockade of an injection well that was causing earthquakes in Youngstown. That campaign ended with the closure of 5 toxic injection wells in the area and launched our work resisting harmful fracking infrastructure across the state. This was one of the first of many arrestable acts of nonviolent direct action to resist the fracking industry, and a new tactic of Nonviolent Direct Action became a more visible part of the movement.

It has been with tremendous satisfaction that we have stood alongside many others within the anti-fracking movement as it grows stronger and bolder. We have watched the ideas and values that form the core of Ohio Fracktion spread and amplify across channels of community resistance.

Ohio Fracktion has changed its role within the movement over the previous year (which would explain our lack of posts for a while). The courage, creativity, and skills that we’ve worked to cultivate in Ohio Fracktion have moved all of us to different parts of the work against the oil and gas industry.

action campPanel

We began doing more action camps and trainings and more work to support others creating their own campaigns of strategic and soul-full nonviolence. Today some core members have returned to finish school, some of us have become even more active in other struggles against extractive industries with such groups as Tar Sands Resistance, Marcellus Earth First, and many other groups. And a bunch of us are still around causing trouble in Ohio, not to worry.

Debrief circleOur current work includes training & facilitation, direct action support, and a micro-grant program to get funds to the front-line activists incredible work to resist the industry.

We still believe in the fundamental right of each community to decide what impacts them, and Ohio Fracktion still works to actively support those choices by offering resources to help improve their efficiency and organizational capacity.  We’re eager to help you in the struggle for mutual liberation and a liveable future.

Resources we offer:

  • Micro-grants for work and activists on the front-line of the struggle against fracking.
  • Waging Nonviolence: aka making Beautiful Trouble
  • Action Support
  • Organizational trainings
  • Creative Facilitation
  • Building Coalitions
  • More

Please contact us for more information.