VRPRA is an educational champion of the privately-owned Vermilion River and the property rights held by its owners, as well as the economic success that the exercise of these rights make possible.
VRPRA is an activist and educational organization whose membership is limited to owners of the Vermilion River. Both roles require using common sense, ongoing research and effective communication of information to the public in a timely manner. Therefore, we really like e-mails to communicate directly with concerned citizens and our supporters. We use them to brief you firsthand on poignant and pressing issues and to tell you what's going on. To join, contact info@VRPRA.org or mail a letter to VRPRA, 13808 West Road, Wakeman, Ohio 44889.
HB 133, which opened up the State Parks to fracking (invented in 2005) began hitting Ohio landowners in late 2009. Worried about trespass from frackers, whether it comes via secret and patented toxic chemicals in the water or in the air, landowners don't want toxins trespassing onto their property.
As you're probably aware, VRPRA.org is opposed to fracking because of the resulting trespass to neighboring landowners of extremely dangerous chemicals. Only trespass law can protect owners from fracking trespass because fracking has been exempted from every major federal government law designed to protect landowners' property. Frackers are exempt from a host of legislated laws including the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and toxic waste laws (RCRA, EPCRA, CERCLA). Further, Ohio's SB 315 PROHIBITS doctors and other health professionals from disclosing fracking threats to public health or otherwise speaking out about the health impacts of fracking. For more information on the relationship between river land grabs and frackers, click HERE.
Here are some key problems with fracker-funded lawmakers and their approach to fracking: •Fracking involves many trespasses against homeowners' property. Most of Ohio's land is private property (4th in the nation, per capita). •Open pits are allowed for toxic chemical “brine” storage. Pits leak contaminants into ground water and release toxic and noxious air pollutants to trespass against neighbors. •No baseline water testing requirements. Pre-drilling water testing is essential for linking contamination to fracking operations and holding frackers accountable in court. •Corporations can conceal chemicals used in fracking through trade secret exemptions. The prior version of the rules at least required companies to submit all chemical information to the federal government, so they could determine whether a chemical compound was truly "proprietary." Companies now have complete authority to determine whether or not their chemical compounds are "proprietary" and therefore immune from public disclosure. •Casing standards are inadequate to protect groundwater. A casing integrity test for each and every well before fracking occurs in not required due to successful industry lobbying efforts (i.e. campaign funds to help re-elect the incumbent politician). Companies will only test casing integrity on one well and use the results as a proxy for all their additional wells. •A poorly defined “variance” provision gives the federal government broad discretion to waive most of the rule requirements for individual fracking operations or even all operations in Ohio.
Because lawmakers are heavily influenced by the frackers' deep pockets, a property rights approach relying on injunctive relief in the courts is the only viable approach to protecting property rights at the moment. If you suffer any trespass from the frackers, contact VRPRA. The courts provide injunctive relief for any property owner who suffers from trespass.
Nearly four years ago property owners saw Democrats trying to "protect" their river property by seeking 'scenic river designation' from ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources); today it's Republicans wanting to frack ODNR's so-called "protected" parks and other lands. VRPRA saw this coming: Demopublican Government is the cause, not the solution. See this article for more information WKSU.org
Most of northern Ohio is scheduled for fracking. Do you have earthquake insurance on your home? Most homeowners' policies do not give coverage for earth tremors unless you reguest it. For no more than $50 or $60 a year you can add this coverage to your current homeowners policy. Call your agent today. Fracking earthquakes are no joke. Read about Oklahoma's fracking earthquake HERE.
While it may be emotionally reassuring to believe that experts know more than one of us, this approach invites central planning schemes that eventually violate human rights. This happens because an elite core of bureaucrats are the actual decision makers. In land use regulation and planning, this approach often leads to degradation of the environment. When land belongs to all there is no specific responsibility to conserve. Any resource held in common, whether it be rivers, streams or forests, can be wasted and misused by any and all. Control of property owners' river and land becomes control of the people. VRPRA is dedicated to the preservation of property rights.
VRPRA met every 3rd Tuesday of each month at the Holiday Inn Express, 2417 State Route 60 near State Rte 2 in Vermilion Township from 12 noon to 2 p.m to discuss the latest developments on scenic river designation, but since ODNR has susupended their attempts we have also suspended our meetings while keeping a watchful eye on any future attempts. We do continue to be vigilant. VRPRA's approach relies more on facts and less on emotion, making it easier for members to analyze issues. Call Judy Kayden at 440-965-5004 for more information or email us at info@VRPRA.org . For more information about scenic river designation of the Vermilion River, click on "about scenic river designation" at the top of this page.
So-called representative government at the state and federal levels often fails to protect the people from the rapacious greed of the super-wealthy to whom they increasingly cater. For example, the idea for a national park system in America was promoted by a wealthy paper industrialist whose son, Gifford Pinchot, became chief. This ensured that tens of thousands of acres, paid for by U.S. taxpayers, could be rented by industrialists for various uses. In addition to catering to the super-wealthy, governmental systems too often reflect unnecessary public waste and destruction.
VRPRA advocates private conservation with clear and enforceable property rights.
Government planning schemes and zoning laws are often tools of vast destruction. VRPRA advocates instead for voluntary convenants and deed restrictions among willing landowners and neighbors. In this regard, courts must do a better job of clarifying and enforcing trespass of private property.
At the Federal level, U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Niles) has been trying to designate 14 counties in Northeast Ohio, including Lorain and Erie counties, as a new national heritage area - the Western Reserve Heritage. Local townhall-type meetings have been held within the 14-counties region since January. The latest was held in Huron on Thursday, June 24th 2010. Is this designation actually what it appears to be - a giant historical district encompassing 14 counties? Will property owners be required to clear all their plans to do anything at all with their property with the authorities who, in turn, will check that these plans do not affect the historical whatever of the district? VRPRA aims to discover the truth about Western Reserve Heritage and how it impacts both tax victims (who bear the majority of the costs) and developers (some of whom may profit).
At the State level, Ohio's Department of Natural Resources produced a study to see if the Vermilion River qualified for scenic river designation. The study said the Vermilion River qualified and designation appeared to be automatic until the question of proper assent was raised. Is scenic river designation something other than it seems? Is there a super-big developer pushing for it while hiding behind a conservancy organization? Does designation come with or without teeth? If it has teeth, what are they? What control of other people's property is there? ODNR says repeatedly that property rights are not affected. VRPRA aims to discover the truth about scenic river designation and how it works to preserve rivers and prevent development.
The French oil company TOTAL, with the blessings of the State, is now fracking Ohio for resource extraction! Will your water supply suffer the consequences? What are the prospects for trespass and other unwanted contaminants to individual property owners?CorpFreeSpeech.com Who, in addition to Total, is seeking to grab land and water? Find Out Here
Oberlin League of Women Voters' list of fracking concerns: LWV Fracking Concerns
The controversial gas-drilling practice is tainting water. Your food might be next. by Barry Estabrook ·May 14, 2011
There's a stunning moment in the Academy Award-nominated documentary Gasland, where a man touches a match to his running faucet—to have it explode in a ball of fire. This is what hydraulic fracturing, a process of drilling for natural gas known as "fracking," is doing to many drinking water supplies across the country. But the other side of fracking—what it might do to the food eaten by people living hundreds of miles from the nearest gas well—has received little attention.
Unlike many in agriculture, cattle farmer Ken Jaffe has had a good decade. But lately he's been nervous, worried fracking will destroy his business. Jaffe's been good to his soil, and the land has been good to him. By rotating his herd of cattle to different pastures on his Catskills farm every day, he has restored the once-eroded land and built a successful business with his grass-fed and -finished beef. His Slope Farms sells meat to food coops, specialty meat markets, and high-end restaurants in New York City, about 160 miles to the southeast. "If you feed your micro-herd—the bacteria and fungi in the soil—then your big herd will do well, too," he said when I visited him recently on a cool, sunny afternoon.
But a seam of black rock lies nearly a mile beneath the topsoil he has so scrupulously nurtured, and the deposit contains enormous quantities of natural gas. Profit-hungry energy companies—and the politicians that their campaign donations support—are determined to exploit that resource, even though it could destroy the livelihoods of thousands of small farmers like Jaffe who have sprung up in New York City's vibrant, alternative food shed.
Energy companies liberate the gas, which is trapped in tiny bubble-like pockets in the rock, by forcefully injecting chemicals diluted with millions of gallons of water into the rock. This fracking ruptures the earth, creating fissures through which the gas passes—along with a witch's brew of carcinogens, acutely poisonous heavy metals, and radioactive elements.
"For sustainable agriculture, fracking is a disaster," says Jaffe. The gas rush started in the South and West, but has spread to the East and now affects 34 states. Under much of West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York lies a 400-million-year-old geographic formation called the Marcellus Shale. Although estimates vary, the shale may hold 50 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, enough to meet New York State's needs for 50 years. To see what fracking can do to food production, Jaffe has only to look at what has happened to some of his colleagues in nearby Pennsylvania, where the first fracked well came into production in 2005, and where there are now there are now more than 1,500.
Last year, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture quarantined 28 cattle belonging to Don and Carol Johnson, who farm about 175 miles southwest of Jaffe. The animals had come into wastewater that leaked from a nearby well that showed concentrations of chlorine, barium, magnesium, potassium, and radioactive strontium. In Louisiana, 16 cows that drank fluid from a fracked well began bellowing, foaming and bleeding at the mouth, then dropped dead. Homeowners near fracked sites complain about a host of frightening consequences, from poisoned wells to sickened pets to debilitating illnesses.
The Marcellus Shale itself contains ethane, propane, and butane, arsenic, cobalt, lead, chromium—toxins all. Uranium, radium, and radon make the shale so radioactive that companies sometimes drop Geiger counters into wells to determine whether they have reached the gas-rich deposits. But those compounds are almost benign compared to the fracking fluids that drillers inject into the wells. At least 596 chemicals are used in fracking, but the companies are not required by law to divulge the ingredients, which are considered trade secrets. According to a report prepared for the Ground Water Protection Council, a national association of state agencies charged with protecting the water supply, a typical recipe might include hydrochloric acid (which can damage respiratory organs, eyes, skin, and intestines), glutaraldehyde (normally used to sterilize medical equipment and linked to asthma, breathing difficulties, respiratory irritation, and skin rashes), N,N-dimethyl formamide (a solvent that can cause birth defects and cancer), ethylene glycol (a lethal toxin), and benzene (a potent carcinogen). Some of these chemicals stay in the ground. Others are vented into the air. Many enter the water table or leach into ponds, streams, and rivers.
For the most part, state and federal governments have turned a blind eye to the problems brought about by fracking. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that it has no jurisdiction to investigate matters related to food production, a contention disputed by Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), who wrote a report urging the EPA to study all issues associated with fracking. A concerned farmer who prefers not to be identified forwarded me an email written to him by Jim Riviere, the director of the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank, a group of animal science professors that tracks incidents of chemical contamination in livestock. Riviere wrote that his group receives up to 10 requests per day from veterinarians dealing with exposures to contaminants, including the byproducts of fracking. Nonetheless, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has slashed funding to his group. "We are told by the newly reorganized USDA that chemical contamination is not their priority," Riviere wrote.
"The dangers of fracking to the food supply are not something that's been investigated very much," said Emily Wurgh of Food and Water Watch, an environmental group based in Washington, D.C. "We have been trying to get members of Congress to request studies into effects of fracking on agriculture, but we haven't gotten much traction."
Fracking is not a new technology. It was first put into commercial use in 1949 by Halliburton, and that company has made billions from employing the extraction method. But it really wasn't until 2004 that fracking really took off, the year that the EPA declared that fracking "posed little or no threat" to drinking water. Weston Wilson, a scientist and 30-year veteran of the agency, who sought whistleblower protection, emphatically disagreed, saying that the agency's official conclusions were "unsupportable" and that five of seven members of the review panel that made the decision had conflicts of interest. This article is continued at Gilttaste.com
According to Jennifer Franco and Timothe Feodoroff, "Behind the scenes in the worldwide scramble for unconventional gas exploration and extraction are a wide range of public and private transnational, national and institutional actors. Leading the pack are the usual transnational companies, which can be divided into three categories. First, there are the technology suppliers such as Halliburton, Schlumberger, Haker Hughes, GasFrac Energy Services, Frac Tech services, etc. which own the technical know-how but do not necessarily engage in the fracking process itself. This operation is undertaken by the drillers, a myriad of gas companies whose leading players are global corporations such Exxon Mobil, Chesapeake, Chevron, Apache, Encana, Shell, etc. Finally, French Total, Italian ENI and Spanish Repsol among others embody the investors, companies involved in many countries mostly financing projects and always in joint venture with drillers. Even though the unconventional gas field involves big players or industry groups, each fracking site usually involves at least two or three companies, often mixing national ones with foreign players, including in the United States and Australia. These corporate actors are intimately bound with governmental bodies. Besides the issuing of licenses and permits, governments are responsible for setting the energy policy direction that supports fracking and setting in place the legal gate openers that facilitates exploration and production. The government role varies from enthusiastic promoters of fracking (Argentina, Poland, China, the US), to enablers (Australia, New Zealand) or governments who actually oppose development of fracking (Quebec, Bulgaria, and France). The government as a public sphere is, as ever, a contested arena where politics is played out differently according to each case." This article is continued at Agrarian Justice
When a river or land are privately owned, the owner holds sovereign control. However, total control is limited by the boundaries that mark the landowner's property. No river owner or land owner has control or authority over property that is not his or hers. Private ownership is complete within the boundaries and non-existent beyond.
Government is like a cudgel and the bigger the cudgel, the more dangerous it becomes when the power elite begin wielding it against the rest of us. We welcome Vermilion River property owners to join VRPRA by emailing your request for free membership to info@VRPRA.org or posting a request to VRPRA, 13808 West Road, Wakeman, Ohio 44889. What VRPRA members all have in common is ownership of property that constitutes the Vermilion River. All of us are smarter about what the State and their muli-nationals are trying to do with our property than one of us, so let us put our heads together to figure it out. Remember, in a free market, there are no corporations - corporations are creations of government!