I've tallied up the pros and cons of horizontal hydraulic fracturing. First the pros

• U.S. energy production (However, foreign companies are buying leases. The gas will be sold on the international market to highest bidders.)

• Short-term jobs for a few local people

• Short-term increased customers for local businesses

• Profit for a few land owners; profit for a few mineral rights owners

And now the cons...

• Loss of property values

• Loss of county property tax revenues

• Greatly increased traffic and accidents

• Increased road damage from large trucks

• Increased need to repair roads (with your tax dollars which to do: repair roads or cut school budget?)

• Destruction of the peaceful enjoyment of our home

• Risks to mortgages and property insurance (Banks have refused to issue mortgages on properties where fracking leases have been sold; lenders have claimed breach of contract when leases have been sold; insurance companies have refused to cover land and structures.)

• Loss of viable economic base (loss of tourism; agriculture; tax base lost through property devaluation and people moving away; infrastructure deterioration)

• Poisoned drinking water supplies

• Disease-causing chemicals (93 percent of identified chemicals are dangerous: 25 percent cancer; 37 percent endocrine disruptors; 52 percent neurotoxins)

• Radioactive waste (Ohio currently allows the radioactive, toxic chemical liquid from fracking operations to be sprayed on our roads.)

• Accidental spills and criminal dumping (documented in every state, and Canada, with fracking operations.)

• Earthquakes (Oklahoma, Arkansas, Ohio and West Virginia have recently reported earthquakes linked to fracking operations. Ohio is receiving waste fluids from other states' fracking ops. These are being pumped into Class 2 injection wells, which are NOT rated to receive hazardous waste.)

• Unregulated, minimal oversight (Unlike any other extractive industry with major environmental impacts, horizontal hydro-fracking was exempted from oversight of the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.)

• Inadequate legal protections for landowners (If you sign a lease with a gas/oil company or if your neighbor does you are entering into a long relationship with a corporation that habitually falsifies information when it believes it will increase its profit to do so.

What are the pros to NOT allowing fracking in our area? We can learn from areas where it has happened. Despite gas/oil corporation propaganda, there is ample evidence of disasters in every state in the U.S. and Canada where fracking operations exist.

We have the opportunity to say "No" to this dangerously unregulated method of gas extraction. In so doing, we will preserve our local economy by preserving the bases of agriculture, education and tourism. Fracking has negatively impacted the property values in any areas where it has occurred.

We have the opportunity to prevent our beautiful home from becoming a "sacrifice zone." Let's be smart and have some foresight. Why be so shortsighted as to sacrifice our home, only so a few people can make a bunch of money, while the rest of us are left holding the bill for the damages?

Yes, we need jobs! Yes, our nation's economy is a mess! But it's not because we don't have enough fracking!

Let us not be distracted by the possible short-term increase in a few jobs, and inflated lease prices of a few landowners. The previous list of pros and cons makes the answer a "no brainer."

Let us demand a "Los Alamos" effort on renewable energy production. Our country put its greatest minds and resources behind the research project at Los Alamos during WWII. That effort produced the atomic bomb and the nuclear industry. Let us learn from the past and refocus our energies toward a better future. The patents and know-how have actually been available for decades for renewable/sustainable energy technology that can power our country safely.

If the exploitation of Appalachia by the extractive industries actually brought the economic benefits the corporations promise, Appalachia would be one of the most affluent, wealthy and economically stable places in America. Let us preserve the stability that has been gained in this part of Ohio through wise stewardship of the land and resources.

The pros and cons speak for themselves. Until it is properly regulated, we must say "No" to fracking. It's the only intelligent, responsible and neighborly choice. It's also the truly patriotic choice, if protecting our homeland is patriotic.

Please educate yourself. The dangers of fracking are well documented. Some excellent starting points: Buckeye Forest Council, www.buckeyeforestcouncil.org, 614-487-9290; NoFrackOhio, www.nofrackohio.com; Ohio Environmental Council, www.theoec.org, 614-487-7510.

Shelley Stark is a local research consultant and editor who has become increasingly concerned by her investigations of horizontal hydraulic fracturing.

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