100_4663 Eric Boardman came to Columbus from Mansfield on April 18 to call for better fracking regulations. Acknowledging our country's need for energy, he said he is not necessarily against fracking. But he said the public can’t make an informed decision about the safety of fracking because of the industry’s lack of disclosure. He supports the idea of using non-toxic tracer dyes to track chemicals gas companies might be putting into the water.

“If they did that, then, if you draw your water and it’s blue or green or whatever dye color is assigned to that particular company, then you know for a fact that your water has been compromised, and you know who to hold responsible. It seems to me such a simple thing to do. It works both ways; if the companies are accused of polluting the water and they’re not doing that, and have a tracer or some other way to follow their activities, then they can say, ‘look, it’s not us; we’re not responsible because there’s no dye; there’s no activity to suggest we did this.’ To me, it just seems like a common sense solution.”

Boardman said Governor John Kasich used inaccurate numbers about fracking jobs, during his state press tour.

“He was touting 200,000 jobs, and within a month or two, a professor from the Economics Department of Ohio State released a paper and said it’s more like 20,000 jobs. If my math is correct, that’s a 900 percent discrepancy between the gas industry’s release and the economics professor’s release. Now I see it’s revised to around 60,000 jobs, and many of those jobs appear to be going to out-of-state trained workers. This is another one of the inaccuracies, if you will. I hate to call people liars.”

Boardman said Chesapeake Energy Corp is having trouble selling natural gas for a profit.

“They’re well over $10 billion in debt and the only assets they have are the leases themselves. So anybody who can keep them afloat---the Chinese, the French, Black Water which is a private investment firm (will be sold those leases). This gas which has been touted as American energy independence is going to be going to the Chinese, or, quite simply, to whomever has the most money.”

On March 16, The Plain Dealer quoted Chesapeake Energy Corp CEO Aubrey McClendon as saying he wants the company to be owned by investors who live in a part of the world that believes gas prices will never go below $10 (for a thousand cubic feet.)

Boardman handed me a photocopy of the article.

“How much more information do you need when the CEO of the company says he wants to be owned by foreign investors and he wants the natural gas which is now $2 to be $10? That’s not cheap gas and it’s not even going to be our gas. We’re simply not being told the truth. Unless we stand up and expose this, we only have ourselves to blame.”

Boardman said protesting and visiting legislators is new to him. He said this is the first time he saw the inside of the State House.

“I never even complained or called a township trustee about a barking dog or anything like that. But in the last 3 or 4 months I’ve learned a tremendous amount about how local government and state government works. I just think, at the end of the day, one of the big problems is the actual lobbyists. I just don’t believe that when our founding fathers put our constitution together and built this country, they intended for lobbyists to be running our state and federal government.”

Boardman said he is concerned about barriers imposed several years ago that make it harder for work-a-day people to have a say about what happens in our communities.

“In 2004, in Mansfield, Ohio and other local communities, we had our own zoning laws. We had the ability to monitor what we felt was best for our community. This is just a personal opinion, but I believe the gas companies knew the drilling techniques were coming and this gas was going to be available, so they lobbied the state to take away local rights. That’s exactly what happened. In 2004, they crafted a bill under Republican guidance to take away all local control. I don’t know much about government, but if I don’t have a local say, to me that’s taxation without representation.”

He said he made the trip to Columbus to make sure legislators publicly defend their votes, instead of voting secretly.

“I think that’s the first step to starting to turn the tide and making our state work for us instead of the lobbyists and the business interests. Those interests don’t really bring a whole lot to the table for our well-being and our safety.”