Activists from the East coast to the West Coast and places in between arrived in the Ohio capitol last week for an event sponsored by called ‘Don’t Frack Ohio.’ Supported by dozens of other state and national organizations such as ‘Food and Water Watch’ ‘Center for Health, Environment and Justice’ ‘Buckeye Forest Council’ ‘Ohio Sierra Club’ ‘Neogap’ ‘EcoWatch’ ‘Non-Toxic Ohio’ and ‘Frack Free Ohio’, the voices of many came together as one in this action, which may well have been the largest anti-fracking protest in the United States to date.

The unconventional method of extraction of fossil fuels known as horizontal hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ is an imminent threat to life and a sustainable environment. Industry proponents hide behind the Federal Energy Act of 2005, also known as the “Halliburton Loophole” and Ohio legislators have passed bills to protect the industry in Ohio SB 165, to allow drilling in state parks in Ohio HB 133 and most recently, the biggest coup for the industry under Governor Kasich’s ‘Energy Bill’, SB 315 which ignored most all amendments that would have provided real protection for the citizens of Ohio.

Saturday evening there was a powerful panel discussion with Bill McKibben, founder, Josh Fox, , Jason Box and Mary Lynn Evans. Representatives of several states also presented in a panel and momentum is building for forming a multi-state coalition to ban fracking. Water resources are interconnected and we cannot allow the millions of gallons of toxic waste generated by the industry to be dumped in our neighbor states. Class 2 injection wells, which inject the wastewater deep into the ground, were of great concern as there is no monitoring or disclosure of the hazardous chemicals found in this extraction by-product.

Three days of workshops, training and sharing of strategy culminated in a rally at Arch Park on Father’s day followed by a peaceful march to the Ohio Statehouse. As the protestors took to the streets of Columbus, chants such as “ O-H-I-O, hydrofracking’s got to go!” and "The ground is shaking, the water's on fire. Governor Kasich is a fracking liar!" resounded from the buildings as hundreds of banners and signs were held high. One high point of the day, when more than a thousand voices chanted from the completely packed statehouse west steps – “Who’s House? OUR HOUSE!” will be a moment in history not easily forgotten. After the masses arrived at the statehouse, people completely filled the rotunda and held a ‘People’s Congress’ with testimony and a vote to ban fracking in Ohio. The energy and voices united in a common goal was unmistakable.

Peace was a major component of the four day event and part of the training sessions involved de-escalation techniques which taught activists how to defuse heated situations without allowing violence to overshadow the action. Although several members of Energy In Depth, (an organization affiliated with the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, which is pro-industry and has lobbied for the previously mentioned bills), dropped in to observe the event and have their typical industry comments included in the media, the only un-acceptable incident came from one individual attempting to gain notoriety by harassing filmmaker Josh Fox. Josh is the producer of ‘Gasland’ an HBO documentary which exposed the lies of the industry and which Oil & Gas proponents continually attempt to debunk.

Because of the outright ignorance of the people’s desire to protect our freedoms of clean air, fresh water, fertile soil and peaceful living provided under the Ohio Constitution, by our Governor and the majority of elected officials, WE THE PEOPLE are left with no alternative than to revolt against the unholy alliance between greedy corporations and corrupt government and pass our own legislation. The failure of our government to serve us has been made very clear. WE THE PEOPLE will continue to organize, educate and stop the destruction of our communities and our earth in direct action against the corruption that clearly exists in the Ohio Statehouse. We took charge for a day and will continue to fight for direct democracy and will not rest until the voice of each and every American is heard and counted.