Fracking Protests Draw Large Crowds in Ohio

A fracking protest outside the Ohio statehouse Tuesday attracted approximately 200 "No Frack Ohio" group members rallying for a ban on the controversial practice, according to the Youngstown Business Journal. A community forum is taking place in Youngstown today to address resident concerns after the New Year's Eve earthquake near a shale drilling injection well, according to News Net 5.

State Rep. Robert Hagan organized the Youngstown gathering to open communications between concerned residents, Ohio Department of Natural Resources representatives and Environmental Protection Agency officials. Gov. John Kasich issued a moratorium on fracking at five injection wells near the Youngstown area where 11 earthquakes occurred last year, according to the Youngstown Vindicator.

Ohioans shared their thoughts on the fracking protests, earthquakes and the future of natural gas via email, instant messaging and Twitter.

* "The community meeting is a good idea. People here need accurate information and the ability to ask questions of both environmental agencies. The protests do nothing to influence anyone. Just a bunch of Occupy folks and college kids acting out -- again." -- Tom Richards, restaurant manager, Youngstown.

* "We do not need to turn our state into a chemical dumping ground just to get jobs. The gas industry is just trying to take advantage of the poor and uneducated people in southern and eastern Ohio who are desperate for a job and do not understand how their lives will be forever changed after shale drilling takes over their neighborhood." -- Jade Hillyer, Ohio University student, Athens.

* "We need to find a balance between protection our environment and becoming a state which welcomes companies. Fracking has become a political issue and it should not have. The protestors outside the statehouse (Tuesday) looked like a bunch of kooks. Some were wearing gas masks and others jumped around like they were all hopped-up on something. Hopefully the folks in Youngstown take a more intellectual approach to discussing the issue than those attempting to influence opinion at Columbus protests." -- Dana Michaels, stay at home mom, Columbus.

* "I am not hopeful that any new information will come out of the natural gas and fracking informational meetings scheduled around the state. Until the investigation about the geological formations around the injection wells in Youngstown is complete, we will not know if fracking caused the earthquake. Even if it did, it does not mean that fracking is dangerous. Drilling has occurred in Ohio for decades and we have not had an earthquake and water contamination problem." -- Craig Grayson, small business owner, Zanesville.

* "Fracking protestors will be in Youngstown until a permanent moratorium is issued in the earthquake stricken area. We do not want our land polluted and controlled by greedy companies and politicians who are controlled by them." -- Shala Preddy, community activist, Cleveland.