Fracking Impacts: Land & Wildlife

Deer near stream

The Ohio Environmental Council expects to see significant harmful impacts to land and wildlife with the increase in shale gas extraction.

Horizontal fracking well pads are much larger than conventional oil and gas drilling pads. These well pads can fragment forests and impact other habitats.

Stream sedimentation from new construction roads and for well pads could be very detrimental to rivers and streams, especially if operators cut corners and fracking well operations are not well-monitored. Further, the Ohio EPA has failed to develop a stormwater permit that could help control pollution runoff during storm events.

Under current Ohio law, municipalities may give approval for brine (fluids produced from drilling operations) to be spread on roads for ice and dust control. The Ohio Environmental Council has serious concerns with this method.

We believe this practice should be prohibited for the use of horizontal fracking wastes, due to potential for radiologicals and heavy metals in the brine. At the least, any waste fluids should be tested before being spread onto roads to protect streams and wildlife.

Another aspect of this process is the increased noise and light pollution from both the drill pad and increased tanker truck activity. We know that fracking operations can take anywhere from 900 to 1,300 truckloads of materials. The resulting noise and light pollution are likely to impact nocturnal animals as well as migrating birds.

Finally, with the increase in shale gas production comes the need to build more pipelines for transport of natural gas, oil and gas liquids, and water to supply the fracking operations. More pipelines being laid across the state results in more surface water, stream, and wildlife impacts.

See Ohio Geo Survey’s map of oil and gas pipelines in Ohio.