Gas drilling surges in Ohio; brings jobs, worries

After a childhood spent moving around, Patti Gorcheffvowed that she’d never uproot her daughter. But she says wastewater disposal in her area from an oil and gas drilling frenzy that’s hit Ohio and other states has forced her to change her mind.

She and her husband are selling the family home and fleeing with their 15-year-old before the drinking water becomes contaminated, said Gorcheff, 56, of rural North Lima in northeastern Ohio. She’s heard the accounts from neighboring Pennsylvania of contaminant-laced water being discharged into rivers — and of fears there that, despite officials’ assurances, drinking water might be harmed.

“I’ve never been so afraid,” she said. “They’re taking advantage of us because we’re one of the poorest areas in the country. We have to move out of this area, we just have to.

“I just don’t know what else to do at this point. I just don’t trust these people.”

The drilling activity promises huge opportunity for eager energy companies and, says Republican Gov. John Kasich, for Ohio’s struggling economy. The vast Marcellus and Utica shale formations are already paying off in thousands of wells in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, bringing great wealth to landowners and jobs throughout the region.

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