By Nicole Hennessy
In the parking lot behind Trinity Cathedral on East 22nd Street and Euclid Avenue, Olmsted Falls resident Dorothy Faller waited patiently for Sen. Sherrod Brown’s state director, John Ryan, to finish speaking.
Behind him, a bus covered in silhouettes with their hands raised, as if volunteering, reads, “I will act on climate.”
Touring 30 states on biodiesel fuel, the goal of the I Will Act tour is to further the Obama administration’s policy agenda on climate change, which the president outlined in a June 25 speech.
Included in the new climate initiative is the nation’s first-ever limit on carbon pollution from power plants, along with measures to strengthen infrastructure against the increasingly visible effects of climate change, as well as new investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.
While wind and solar energy are a large part of the planned focus, often, and in this case, natural gas extraction by means of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is considered clean energy, as it emits less carbon than coal when burned. However, the process of releasing natural gas from the ground through fracking and the chemical-laced wastewater it produces has been linked to issues like contaminated drinking water and groundwater, earthquakes and decreased property value in or near the areas with wells present.
Finishing his brief address, Ryan said, “If the senator was here, he would close with a quote some of you have heard.”
Then, encouraging the crowd gathered to push for increased wind and solar technology in Ohio, he continued, “‘Don’t tell me what you believe; tell me what you do, and I will tell you what you believe.’”
Another speaker calling for an increased focus on Northeast Ohio wind technology was David Karpinski, vice president of operations at LEEDCo (Lake Erie Energy Development Corp.), a nonprofit company that was awarded $4 million in federal money to launch offshore wind development utilizing Lake Erie.
Still waiting for her chance to ask questions as the closing comments were made, Faller sifted through a stack of fracking-related news articles, disappointed that none of the speakers addressed the topic.
For about two years, she’s researched the harmful side effects of fracking, attending rallies and meetings from Warren to Broadview Heights, where oil and gas wells are placed less than 100 feet from homes.
And though she says it sometimes feels that fighting corporations with enough money and influence to affect legislation is an uphill battle, she doesn’t settle for being merely informed. Every day there are notifications in her inbox, inviting her to events like these.
Also a member of West Shore FaCT, which stands for “Faith Communities Together for Frack Awareness,” Faller encouraged community members to attend its twice-monthly meetings on the second and fourth Sundays at 12:15 p.m. at West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Rocky River.
For encouragement, many activists, including Faller, look to Pittsburgh, a city that’s outlawed fracking. But they know there’s a long way to go in Ohio, which has shown little resistance to drilling for natural gas and allowing the chemical-laced wastewater to be dumped in various counties throughout the state.
“Sherrod hasn’t done much,” she finally said, standing directly across from Ryan. “I think he’s afraid.”
Ryan listened to Faller and an increasing number of constituents who began to surround him, accepting pamphlets and news articles and encouraging them to send personal letters to the senator in reference to their concerns about fracking for about a half hour, until they were asked to move so the bus could head out.
Faller thanked him for his time, insisting Sen. Brown watch a film called “Triple Divide,” an investigative look at natural gas extraction.
Heading home for the day just as the humidity gave way to a breeze, she said she’s come across a good amount of resistance to fracking among her neighbors in Olmsted Falls and surrounding cities. But, disappointed, she added that a lot of the time “they see it as distant.”