Dr. Ted Auch teaches environmental science and geology at Cleveland State University and is Great Lakes Program Coordinator of FracTracker Alliance, a non-profit corporation that collects data on oil and gas development. He spoke at a Nov. 30 town hall meeting sponsored by Frackfree America National Coalition and local residents opposed to injection wells proposed for property on Route 7 in Brookfield.

“We see the value of data in this conversation,” Auch said. “It’s the power of data that helps people inform themselves and, hopefully, sway others as to the environmental, socio-economic and health long-term externalities, costs of this whole industry in southeast Ohio.”

He examines water, waste and land use at FracTracker to formulate “the cost of the industry relative to the benefits,” he said.

“Since we’ve been working on this issue, the fracking industry is getting less and less efficient. By that, I mean the amount of energy they’re pulling out of the ground and the amount of resources they need to get that energy out of the ground is going up.”

“We’ve seen that the amount of waste, the amount of water, the amount of land, all sorts of things, those things are going up by 15 to 25 percent per year, but the energy coming out of the ground is not going up by 15 to 25 percent. This means there is no signal in the state of Ohio telling these guys that they have to become more and more efficient. In fact, the signal in Ohio is the opposite: ‘Don’t worry about it, guys, we’ve got your back. All of these externalities, all of these costs that you’re putting on communities like Brookfield, water, waste, land, don’t worry about it. We’ll absorb those costs.’ But, the problem is, when these companies leave, we all know who’s going to be left standing when the music stops: it’s communities like Brookfield. You’re not even generating any of the revenue that the fracking industry’s generating.

“We value water in such a way that it strikes me that there’s no wonder that this industry uses so much water, produces so much water waste, produces so many solid wastes and uses so much of the landscape — because we don’t price this stuff holistically. It’s priced as a renewable resource and you know what, who cares, we’ll just keep making more. The thing that’s really struck me in the last three or four years is, not only this ratio of resource demand to energy produced, but also the fact that we’ve seen a lot of companies buying into the injection well market. They’re seeing there’s money to be made in them there barrels of waste.”