FaCT and OHR speakers have been invited to address a number of community groups in Ohio. Groups include those who want to know more about shale development and what risks it may pose to them and their communities. Some groups may include folks considering leasing their land for shale development. Some of these same folks may decide not to lease their land after hearing our presentation. We hope so.
Recently our own Dr. Cowden, in one of her presentations, included measures to take if you have to live with shale development, whether you signed a lease or not. The fact is, many persons, perhaps even most persons in shale development areas may not even be offered a lease. They don’t have enough land to make it worthwhile to drillers. Yet, they will be living in proximity to shale development because of neighbors who have signed leases.
Some may say that we shouldn’t be telling people how to live with shale development. We should just urge no lease signing, or if they are not offered a lease but find themselves in a shale development region, just urge them to move---to get out while they have a chance.
But it’s not that simple. Many persons cannot afford to move out of shale development areas. I spoke to a woman recently who told me that she had gone away briefly on vacation. When she returned to her home, she found a drilling rig being erected on the land next to hers. She would have liked to have sold her house, but she found out that the drilling rig nearby had reduced the value of her home by $60,000. Moreover, she said, she didn’t think she could even find a buyer. Who would want to live next to a drilling rig?
So we have to cover all contingencies. Our messaging should include urging refusal to lease land for environmental and health reasons and for reasons of community integrity as well as with warnings that shale corporations have often shortchanged or misled lessees. But for those who may not be lessees but cannot afford to move, we need to provide practical information to reduce the exposures and dangers their families will face once shale development begins in their communities.