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Monthly Archives: May 2011

Adios Jim Tressel

Ohio State Buckeyes college football head coac...
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The bigger they are, the harder they fall

Jim Tressel brought a lot of things to Ohio State University but the last thing anyone expected was that he would bring shame to the school. Tressel brought winning seasons,
pride, a national championship, big name sports figures, the sweater vest
fashion trend, and money—lots of money!

Everyone loves a winner. The Buckeyes consistently placed in the top 10 nationally under
Tressel’s reign making him another OSU legend. He also did it with style and
grace. He avoided controversy at all costs always giving vague, non-committal
answers at press conferences earning him the nickname of The Senator. He preached
faith and family and wasn’t afraid to take the fatherly role and punish or “bench”
a player when needed. So how did he come to a forced resignation?

By now we all know the story of what is being called “TattooGate”. A few players sold
some of their championship rings, gold pants charms, and uniforms to an owner
of a tattoo parlor (who is now under federal indictment) for money and
discounts on tattoos. When Tressel heard about the incident several months
later he covered it up rather than taking it to the university compliance
office and the Athletic Director.

I like to think that it all began very innocently on Tressel’s part. Judging from the
love and respect his players publicly profess for him and his leadership, I feel
his first reaction was to protect his players who he viewed as his family. The typical
first reaction would be to wait until later to see how big of a problem this
might be. Why alert the National Guard if it is only a small domestic
disturbance?

But, unfortunately, this small step grew into a slight stumble and then a huge fall.
The first big mistake was in September 2010 when he signed an annual statement with
the NCAA stating he did not know of any NCAA violations he had not reported;
even though he first learned of the problem the previous April. By the time everything
came to light in December there was a huge problem. Ohio State had won the Big
10 Championship and was preparing to go to the Sugar Bowl.

That championship was won with ineligible players but NCAA and Ohio State officials were confident the problem was limited to just a few players. They were given the
green light to play in the Sugar Bowl but would have to sit out the first six
games of the 2011-2012 season. This decision involved millions of dollars. The Sugar
Bowl stood to lose millions by changing teams at the last-minute and the Ohio
State fans, who had already booked reservations for the game, would lose tons
of money.

Ohio State won that game but now may have to forfeit the whole season. This story wouldn’t be as tragic if Jim Tressel hadn’t portrayed himself as Mr. Do-Right. This tale
isn’t over and we may never know the full details. Was it an innocent mistake,
a tragedy of errors, an out-right lie, or a sacrifice to protect others? Did Coach
Tressel fall on his own sword to protect his players or someone in the
administration?

Who or what is to blame for this debacle? Is it the poverty or greed on the part of a few
players? Is it too much worship at the feet of the Great God of Greenbacks? Is
it the immaturity and inability to make good decisions on the part of the
players? Is it poor leadership at the top? Is it the culture of big time
college sports? Is it the trend of entitlement of today’s young people?

Although Coach Tressel made poor decisions, he did not create the problem. That began with a handful of players at a place they shouldn’t be, doing things they shouldn’t
do. Tressel is their coach, not their babysitter.

I heard twice today on sport talk radio and TV about entitlement and posses (as in a sheriff’s posse or a group of people with a common purpose.). High profile players are coming into colleges and universities accustomed to privileges and expecting more of the same. They expect to be put on a pedestal and catered to. The idea of a posse is new to me but Colin Cowherd said today on his radio show, The Herd, that this is a part of sports. These players come with their own group of hangers-on who do everything for them from carry their helmets to whatever.

Many are questioning Terrell Pryor and his fancy sports cars and life style. They say
once he arrived on campus everything changed. Pryor received special favors and
privileges, according to those in the know. He is also under NCAA investigation
according to today’s Columbus Dispatch.

All of these incidentals aside, the very root of the problem is money. College football is
no longer just a couple of rival hometown college teams gathering on a Saturday
to play for a bell or a wooden turtle. It has grown to a billion dollar sport. Let
us not kid ourselves, Ohio State IS Columbus’s pro football team.

I’m sure we will learn much more about all this as the investigations continue. But, for now, let us go back to a more normal life. The center of the spotlight, Coach
Tressel, is gone. Let us take a moment to thank him for some great games and
wish him well. He had to resign to deflect the glare of the lights from the OSU
football program as they prepare for the fall season—whatever that may be.

NOTE–Please read the attached link below. The interview with Tressel’s QB in Youngstown gives a whole new slant on Coach Tressel and controversy.

 

What the Frack Is All The Fuss Over Natural Gas (Part 2)

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Gold Mine at Our Feet

Ohio could be sitting atop a gold mine! Ohio sits on top of both Marcellus and Utica shale deposits which harbor enough natural gas to last us for many years to come. It is literally a gold mine at our feet. It is estimated that perhaps trillions of cubic feet of gas and billions of barrels of oil are buried under Ohio’s
surface.

Many stand to gain a lot of money from mining Ohio’s natural gas deposits. Energy companies are reportedly paying landowners $1500 per acre plus royalties for the rights to drill on their property. The state of Ohio also hopes to make up huge deficits from the money they stand to gain from leasing drilling rights to
energy companies to drill on state-owned lands in the state parks. Governor
Kasich has said this is a huge windfall for the state.

Several Ohio cities were hoping for a financial windfall for treating the brine from natural
gas wells but the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday, May
17, that cities won’t be able to treat the brine which is then dumped into
streams after treatment. The agency says it is concerned that the brine will
pose a pollution risk. The Ohio EPA’s recommended form of disposal is the use
of injection wells thousands of feet underground.

Steubenville, East Liverpool, and Warren, Ohio hoped to make money from the energy companies by treating the brine; but Warren is the only city currently treating brine for a
Lisbon-based company. The treated brine is then dumped into the Mahoning River;
however, the city’s treatment process does not remove salt from the wastewater.
The Ohio EPA announced it will not renew Warren’s permit to treat such brine
which expires in January.

Robert Disch, East Liverpool’s utility director, estimates his city could make at least
$168,000 a year. Chuck Murphy, Steubenville’s wastewater superintendent, said
his city could make as much as $300,000 a year. Tom Angelo, director of
Warren’s water-pollution-control plant, had hoped to charge as much as $150,000
a year to take the brine.

In eastern Ohio, energy companies are paying landowners for the right to drill into the
Marcellus and the thicker, more deeply buried Utica shale deposits. Companies
have so far drilled 59 Marcellus wells and an additional 10 into the Utica.
Hundreds more could be drilled, especially if Utica wells produce large amounts
of gas, and possibly oil.

Even though the State of Ohio hopes to lease land to energy companies, this process could
be bogged down for some time until it is determined who actually owns the
mineral rights to the land. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources wants to
open state parks for drilling. Officials say that proceeds from leases and
royalty payments would help reduce a $560 million maintenance backlog in state
parks.

Also, a bill was introduced in the House on Wednesday, May 18, by Rep. Dave Hall,
R-Killbuck, chairman of the House’s Agriculture and Natural Resources
Committee, which states that land owned by universities or that the state
bought with legal agreements that restrict how it can be used, would be
unavailable for drilling. “We wanted to show where you could drill and where
you could not,” said Hall, who sponsored the bill. The bill also creates a
five-member board to review all drilling applications and make a decision
within 15 days.

Tom Steward, vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, which represents drillers, said his group supports the bill. He stated, “It became obvious that there were
lands bought with federal encumbrances where the state couldn’t ‘lose control’
of the properties.”

Environmental advocates remain opposed to drilling in any form. Jack Shaner, a lobbyist with the Ohio Environmental Council, said drilling breaks an implied promise that
parks won’t be developed or polluted. “I don’t care how much lipstick you
put on this pig, it’s still a pig,” Shaner said.  According to the bill, state university
officials would be able to OK drilling on their land.

The EPA’s Role

One would think that the EPA is keeping a close eye on the natural gas industry but they
were essentially excluded by the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The
act also includes a provision that the energy companies do not have to reveal
what chemicals are used in the fracking process. The Policy Act excludes HF
fluids, except for diesel fuel, related to energy production from regulation
under the UIC (underground injection control) program. However, states may
choose to regulate HF, if they wish.

I am not an expert in wastewater treatment, but during my years as editor for a quarterly
magazine for the Ohio Water Pollution Control Association (OWPCA), I learned
that before a treatment facility can treat incoming water it must first know
what chemicals are in the water. If, by law, companies don’t have to reveal the
makeup of the chemical mixture how can the wastewater be properly treated? If the
wastewater is not properly treated, then our streams and drinking water become
polluted.

Along with the expansion of HF there has been increasing concerns about its potential
impact on drinking water resources, public health, and environmental impacts in
the vicinity of these facilities. Therefore, the EPA has begun a study to
understand the relationship between HF and drinking water resources.

This news should be encouraging but, in typical governmental fashion, the study will take
some time to complete. It was begun in 2010 and is not scheduled to be
completed until 2014. A series of community hearings were held last year and the
results of those hearings will be sent to the Science Advisory Board (SAB)
where the draft will then be revised in response to the SABs comments. Initial
results are expected by the end of 2012 with a goal of a full report in 2014.

In connection with the study, the EPA sent letters to 9 companies currently
involved in HF or fracking to gain information regarding the chemicals used in
the process and the impact of the chemicals on human health and the
environment, standard operating procedures at the HF sites, and the locations
of sites where fracturing has been conducted. The nine leading national and
regional HF service providers are:  BJ Services, Complete Production Services, Halliburton, Key Energy Services, Patterson-UTI, RPC, Inc., Schlumberger, Superior Well Services, and Weatherford. All companies but Halliburton (who developed the fracking process and was previously run by Dick Cheney before he became vice-president) responded to the EPA request in a timely manner. Halliburton responded only after being
subpoenaed to do so.

Flowback is regulated not by the EPA but by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program which requires flowback to be treated prior to discharge into surface
water or underground injection prior to discharge. Underground injection is
regulated by EPA or a state with primary UIC (underground injection control)
enforcement authority. However, again, if the chemicals used in the process are
unknown, then proper treatment of the water is impossible.

It is certainly discouraging to think the gas drilling companies are running the
show. What were our fine representatives in Washington thinking when they
passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 or what is commonly known as the
Bush/Cheney Bill? The fact that two oil men were running the country tells us everything.
I hate to think what horrors are ahead of us with very few regulations placed
on the industry. Why don’t they want us to know what chemicals are being used? What
are they hiding?

We may have a gold mine at our feet but what will it cost us to tap into this mine? Are we
opening Pandora’s Box?

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2011/02/14/ohio-epa-tries-to-limit-brine-dumps-in-rivers.html?sid=101

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2011/05/17/cities-cant-treat-brine-from-new-gas-wells.html?sid=101

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2011/05/18/bill-limits-oil-gas-drilling-in-ohio-parks.html?sid=101

The Fracking Song

To learn more about fracking click on the link below to see one of the funniest and most educational videos about fracking. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well, I couldn’t explain fracking any better if I wrote a thousand pages. See My Water’s On Fire Tonight or The Fracking Song.

House passes bill to drill in parks

The House passed the state park drilling bill yesterday. As usual, there was a lively debate–read what our representatives had to say.

House passes bill to drill in parks.

Fracking brings risk Ohioans should avoid

This Letter to the Editor also appeared in today’s Columbus Dispatch and more clearly outlines the hazards of fracking. It is written by Alex Beauchamp, Midwest Region Director, Food & Water Watch, Washington, and ends with the statement, “Leaders in the state have a real opportunity to protect consumer interests by banning fracking now.”

Fracking brings risk Ohioans should avoid.