David DeWitt for the Athens News:
For the third year in a row, the Athens County Bill of Rights Committee will seek to put the question of turning the county into a charter form of government to voters in November.
As with the other initiatives, this charter proposal doubles as an effort to keep oil and gas horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) out of Athens County, through the use of local water for fracking operations. It also would prohibit fracking waste-injection wells, of which Athens County already has several in operation.
This past September, for the second year in a row, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a proposed anti-fracking charter amendment for Athens County would not appear on the county’s general election ballot. The amendment, in addition to setting up a charter form of government, would have outlawed fracking waste injections wells in Athens County, as well as the use of county water resources for oil and gas drilling activities in Athens County and elsewhere. The latter provision would substantially curtail any future local fracking, which uses an immense amount of water.
So far, the deep-shale oil and gas boom hitting other parts of eastern Ohio in recent years hasn’t extended into Athens County, and it’s an open question whether it ever will.