Kentucky Fracking Forum Draws Large Crowd

Residents of the Clear Creek area raise their hands Tuesday night to indicated they were approached by an energy company seeking to lease their mineral rights.
Many Clear Creek residents were approached by an energy company seeking to lease their mineral rights.

By Michaela Ballard, Richmond Register

The walls of the Acton Folk Center were lined with people without room to sit Tuesday night during the first Frack Free Foothills community forum.

The group was formed after energy companies began approaching landowners of the Red Lick and Clear Creek areas seeking to lease mineral rights for hydraulic fracturing.

Those in attendance had many questions for speakers Bill Hughes of Wetzel County, W.Va., and Tom Fitzgerald of the Kentucky Resources Council.

Hughes, a documentarian of fracking, presented what he said are production stages that typically occur on fracking sites. These include large-vehicles traveling on rural roads, water issues and air pollution, he said.

Fitzgerald, an environmental attorney, explained state regulation of oil and gas, the rights of landowners and ways to contact legislators to express opposition to fracking.

Bill Hughes of Wetzel County, W.Va., tells attendees of the Frack Free Foothills forum Tuesday about damages that hydraulic fracturing caused to his neighborhood.
Bill Hughes of Wetzel County, W.Va., speaks about damages that fracking caused to his neighborhood.

He also commented on a press release sent to news organizations Tuesday. The release states that state government has “very strong regulations to protect fresh water aquifers and the environment.” However, Fitzgerald said state laws are not as stringent as the release implies.

Lease-signers may be capable of retracting their signatures from leases if they were misinformed by companies that approached them, said Craig Williams of the Kentucky Environmental Foundation.

Several elected officials attended the meeting, including Madison County Magistrates Roger Barger, John Tudor and Tom Botkin, Berea Mayor Steve Connelly, City Administrator Randy Stone and several Berea City Council mebmers. State Reps. Rita Smart, D-Richmond, and Marie Radar, R-McKee, did not attend but sent representatives.

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