Ohio Oil & Gas Regulators Ignore 38% of Public Complaints

A three-year study released today by Earthworks and supported by 15 regional organizations in Ohio and Pennsylvania, Loud, and Clear, reveals that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) failed to act on 38 percent of public complaints.  

Loud and Clear: what public regulatory complaints say about Ohio's regulation of oil and gas emissions and who it represents The inquiry further reveals that the municipal complaints mechanism is practically difficult to use by the municipal.

Optical gas imaging video of otherwise invisible air pollution-methane and toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene-from oil and gas production in Ohio was captured by Earthworks' accredited thermographers from 2018-2020. The evidence was used by Earthworks workers to file regulatory complaints with the OEPA and ODNR. Regulators have replied to just 70 percent of our concerns (22 of 31), have taken no action on another 38 percent, and 29 percent (9 of 31) have yet to respond.

In August, the Environmental Protection Agency of the Trump Administration removed federal protections regulating methane emissions and related VOCs from oil and gas production, ensuring that there is no regulatory protection from this form of pollution for Ohioans. At the same time, OEPA 's initial measures to control the emissions of the industry in 2018 have stalled.

Who do regulators in Ohio serve? It's a full-time job for Ohioans affected by oil and gas emissions just to get a response from the organization whose duty it is to protect them. Regulators take pains to make government regulation as simple as possible for oil and gas producers. The only way to effectively protect Ohioans from oil and gas emissions is to fully avoid allowing oil and gas production.  –– Dr. Randi Pokladnik, Harrison County (3rd most fracked county in Ohio) resident

For 5 million people, like me, the Ohio River is drinking water. Because oil, gas, and petrochemical companies are not responsible for polluting our air and water, I had to buy a special filter from my group that gets many of the contaminants out. In the first place, we shouldn't have to pay for the filter, or need one. Corporations make millions out of our wealth and leave the bag with common people. — Cincinnati resident Mary Aguilera of the Ohio Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

“The Ohio River is drinking water for 5 million people, including me. Because oil, gas, and petrochemical corporations aren’t held accountable for polluting our air and water, my community had to buy a special filter that gets out many of the pollutants. We shouldn’t have to pay for that filter or need one in the first place. Corporations make millions off our resources and leave ordinary folks holding the bag.” — Cincinnati resident Mary Aguilera of the Ohio Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

“Ohio should be in the business of protecting its people and clean air and water, not aiding the fracking industry by burying accountability under layers of bureaucracy. In many cases, there is no platform or process for Ohioans to voice their opinion on proposed oil and gas projects. The people and communities of Ohio deserve to be heard and our government should prioritize our voices over corporate profits.”  — Cincinnati resident Mary Aguilera of the Ohio Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

“Neither this industry’s lack of transparency and accountability nor the problem of government unresponsiveness, stop at state lines. In Pennsylvania as Ohio, local resident volunteers are too often left to do the work that corporate executives and elected officials join hands in evading. Both our states deserve a government that puts the needs of the public ahead of corporations wanting to profit from fracking, or building a chemical plant.” –Terrie Baumgardner, Clean Air Council Outreach Coordinator, Beaver County PA

“Whether in Ohio or Pennsylvania, it’s against the law to poison people—unless you have a government permit.” — Bob Schmetzer, Chair of Beaver County (PA) Marcellus Awareness Community

350Pittsburgh is painfully aware of the effects of oil and gas pollution in Western PA and very concerned about impacts on and from our neighboring communities. This is an issue for everyone who shares air and water with Ohio. We support a halt to the permitting of oil and gas facilities.” – Kate Fissell, 350Pittsburgh

Here is our map of Ohio oil and gas safety issues