MEDINA — At-large Councilman Bill Lamb said he was disappointed that Tuesday’s Special Legislation Committee meeting he organized on fracking became contentious toward the end.
Several attendees walked out and shouted when Mike Chadsey, of Energy in Depth, got up to speak. Energy in Depth is part of the Oil and Gas Association.
One person shouted, “Oil companies lie.”
Chadsey had been invited by At-large Councilman Paul Rose.
The City Council rotunda was packed Tuesday with about 40 people; generally only about a handful of people regularly attend Council meetings.
Sally Gardner, a former Medina Township trustee, said she walked out of the meeting in protest.
Gardner said she didn’t like that there wasn’t time allocated for questions from the public.
“I’m always not happy when that happens,” she said. “Those three women will not be at another meeting to my knowledge,” she said of three other invited speakers. Gardner said she thought it was unfair that an oil industry representative was allowed to speak, but residents from Medina County were not.
Two Broadview Heights residents spoke about how oil and gas drilling had affected their city, causing lower property values, pollution and increased traffic. Tish O’Dell and Pat Volk worked to get a ban on new oil and gas drilling approved for their community through a ballot initiative.
The wells in Broadview Heights are traditional oil and gas wells, but residents also are concerned about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a drilling process that involves injecting water, particles and certain chemicals deep underground at high pressure to break up shale and release oil and natural gas.
A third speaker, Elisa Young, of Meigs County, who had been invited by Lamb along with the Broadview Heights residents, said she didn’t think residents could trust the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to regulate oil and gas drilling.
“Getting some local control would be really important, because they’re not doing this responsibly,” she said.
Lamb said the meeting was meant to focus strictly on how oil and gas drilling might affect the city of Medina.
“It wasn’t intended to be a forum for questions,” he said. “My concern was partly control of the meeting, which proved to be correct.”
Future meetings on oil and gas drilling planned for after the holidays may include time for questions, and Lamb said he planned to rethink how those meetings will be organized.
“We’re going to look at if we need to rethink something of the plan in light of how that meeting ended,” Lamb said.
Lamb said the committee may find the issue to be moot, at least for the city itself, because local regulations of oil and gas drilling could be unenforceable. Also, Medina’s geology may not be suitable for drilling, he said.
Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.