Four groups — Advocates of Local Land (ALL), Hayesville Community on Fracked Gas (HCFG), Clear Fork Landowners Group (CFLG) and Frack Free Ohio — took turns at the podium addressing a crowd about about 25, Thursday evening at the Mansfield Public Library.

MANSFIELD — Four groups tasked with protecting land that gas corporations are investigating for exploratory drilling held a press conference Thursday in the community room at the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library.

The groups — Advocates of Local Land (ALL), Hayesville Community on Fracked Gas (HCFG), Clear Fork Landowners Group (CFLG) and Frack Free Ohio — took turns at the podium addressing a crowd of about 25 people. Property in Richland, Ashland and Holmes County encompassed the focus of the discussion.

“This controversial drilling practice has the potential of changing the real landscape of north central Ohio permanently and not in a manner that would enhance the land nor protect the economic boon provided by farming and touring that brings tens of thousands of visitors to the area each year,” said Bill Baker, an organizer for Frack Free Ohio.

Jayne Moser of the CFLG said she and her husband received a letter from Cabot Oil and Gas along with copies of her original lease with Columbia Gas and an amended lease from Cabot.

“We were disturbed by numerous provisions in the amended lease,” she said. “The permanence of the lease, the totally inadequate protections in case of environmental accidents, the insulting levels of reimbursement and the loss of control for one’s land were just a few of the provisions which led us to determine that this agreement should be opposed.”

Kevin and Theresa Clark of ALL shared similar frustrations with the idea of fracking in their backyard.

“We can’t close our eyes,” said Theresa. “In the end where will we have to turn if we have destroyed our basic needs for greed? We cannot drink money. They come in here and offer us money to exchange our land, exchange our water, exchange our health and well being in the area. You can’t even put a price on that. If there’s any risk involved, there’s no price for us.”

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From left, David Graham and his wife Lori hold up a map of different landowners in the area considered for fracking. The green lands have all said “no” to the drilling company. The yellow represents land owners still on the fence and the orange represents landowners who have said yes to fracking, Bill Baker, right, said.

Mike Chadsey, director of public relations for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association sat in on the meeting. He said he had a mixed reaction to the comments made.

“I think Bill is doing his best to educate the folks, but I’m a little disappointed,” he said. “I heard a little misinformation tonight and I’m sure it’s just because of a lack of education on the information heard this evening.”

Multiple groups mentioned how fracking poisoned nearby water with waste runoff. Baker called the waste stream produced by hydraulic fracking pumps a “dirty secret.”

“Millions of gallons of chemically-laden liquid waste are produced from the completion of each well and the waste is a continuing byproduct of the well as long as it is in production,” he said.

But Chadsey said that was untrue.

“The EPA, during the Obama Administration, did a five-year study on water issues,” Chadsey said. “Their top finding was there were no systemic issues of water contamination in the country. I think that was something missing from the conversation.”

The groups mentioned having the drilling wells set up in their pockets of the county would decrease their land value, affect their ponds for recreation and drinking use. They mentioned sound and light pollution as well as an increase in road traffic once the wells were in place and trucks shipped oil away.

Democratic Ohio Senator Michael Skindell has introduced a Senate bill prohibiting the disposal of fracking waste by injection into the ground.

In 2011, two wells were planned for construction in Mansfield’s Industrial Park.

After seeing an uproar from concerned citizens, Law Director John Spon wrote the “Environmental Bill of Rights” to halt the plan.

“The project was abandoned and today Mansfield still continues to be a rare example of local control measures being enacted to stop the will of corporations,” Baker said.

In total, the groups asked the audience to educate itself on the issues of fracking.

“What will you do? What choices will you make?” asked Theresa. “Choose wisely.”