YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Protesters outside Youngstown’s Covelli Center Nov. 30 wanted the Utica and Marcellus shale drilling to slow, but the feeling inside was that it is moving full steam ahead.
The public filled the sold-out trade show and a stage area where speakers talked about the jobs that lay ahead for the area, the educational opportunities being offered, possible environmental impacts and how leases can affect property owners.
Inside the YOUNG Conference at the Covelli Center, it was evident that the protesters were inside trying to turn the focus onto themselves instead of the subject at hand. Protesters attempted to interrupt speakers and tried to get their point across that they are concerned about the environmental impact the gas drilling could cause in the future.
Attorney Eric Johnson, of the law firm Johnson and Johnson in Canfield, Ohio, said to the audience that protesters have a role in the drilling process.
He said protesters and people against drilling will help keep drilling companies from taking shortcuts or thinking they can find a way around regulations.
Johnson said that if the protesters are there watching and reporting what they see, it will help to ensure shortcuts are not taken, and the right precautions are taken in avoiding environmental accidents.
Outside of the conference, approximately 150 protesters walked up and down the sidewalk chanting, “Ohio, hydro fracking’s got to go.”
One woman from Austintown, Ohio, who would only give her first name as “MaryAnne,” was protesting because she was concerned about the possible pollution on her property. She said her property had been polluted in the past and she does not want to see it again.
She urged for more testing to be done before more drilling is started in Ohio, so that Ohio residents know it is safe for them and their health.
Cheryl Johncox, of the Buckeye Forest Council, said she also feels Ohio is in too big of a rush to satisfy the drilling industry.
“We have to protect our homes and our families,” Johncox said.
She said the goal is to get the drilling frenzy to slow down and do some environmental studies before rushing in and creating damage that can’t be undone.
Some of the protesters did not want to talk to the media and instead, kept marching along the sidewalk and many of them indicated they were not from the Youngstown area.
Check back for additional coverage from the conference.