Ban Fracking on College Lands

Rhys Hertafeld and Emily Belle

To the Editors:

Many of us chose to attend Oberlin College based on its reputation for promoting social justice and environmental sustainability. In the spirit of this commitment, we encourage students, faculty and community members to join in efforts to explicitly prohibit natural gas development on College-owned property, including the immediate campus and acreage in surrounding areas.

Natural gas extraction in this region often involves the process of hydraulic fracturing, with the potential for contamination of local waterways and hugely detrimental human health effects in nearby communities. With these dangers in mind, it is imperative that we adopt a proactive stance to ban fracking infrastructure on College lands.

In recognition of the hazards posed by fracking, the Oberlin City Council unanimously passed two resolutions last year: one asking Governor Kasich’s office for a moratorium on horizontal hydraulic fracturing and injection wells until further research is completed, and the other asking for the return of local control of the permitting and zoning of natural gas.

As members of an educational institution, it is essential that we support the desires of our community in regards to this issue. We can accomplish this in part by pressuring our administration to take a definitive stance toward protecting the well-being of our town and environment.

The movement to ban fracking on Oberlin’s lands formed in response to requests for demonstrations of solidarity from folks living in regional communities already affected by natural gas extraction. While it might be difficult to imagine an injection well or drilling rig in Tappan Square, it is important to realize that this hypothetical situation is a reality for students and communities across Ohio. The administrations of Ohio State and Youngstown State Universities have

already begun the process of leasing their lands to natural gas companies; meanwhile, fracking infrastructure is currently being built at Hiram College.

Oberlin would be the first college in Ohio to articulate a policy prohibiting fracking and related infrastructure on its property. This would set an important precedent for other schools and land-owning institutions in Ohio, in a gesture of solidarity with students and citizens across the state who are fighting to preserve the integrity of their communities.

To sign the petition, please visit our website at indexcentralheatingplant.html (no hyphen).

–Rhys Hertafeld and Emily Belle
Oberlin College Anti-Frack