Over a dozen residents and students lined the sidewalk outside of the Ohio University Inn over the weekend in an attempt to persuade those considering leasing their property to oil and natural gas companies for hydraulic fracturing to think twice.
Fueled by the potential leasing of property in the Wayne National Forest, residents sought to better inform those considering leasing their property to Cunningham Energy, an independent oil and gas company investigating placing horizontal hydraulic fracturing rigs in Southeast Ohio, of the possible effects of fracking.
After failing to acquire an adjacent conference room at the Inn, Athens County resident Eliza Young and the rest of the protesters resorted to handing out their lease information on the sidewalk, hoping people interested in leasing their property would ask for more information before making a final decision.
“We are providing an objective view of the leases being offered,” Young said. “But they have to come to us. At least we are capturing attention and hopefully influence.”
The protesters also had attorney Don Wirtshafter on sight to provide anyone thinking about signing a lease with legal consultation. Cunningham Energy, a West Virginia based company, came to Athens both days to allow interested property owners in Athens County to lease their property. Company representatives refused to comment on the leasing.
Athens County resident Steve Lucas said companies like Cunningham are hiding behind job creation platforms. The protesters handed out information packets outlining how to protect one’s self after signing the types of leases Cunningham was proposing to people, emphasizing the extreme disadvantage the property owners hold in the leasing process.
Julia Miller, a freshman studying psychology, said giving out information to people interested in leasing their property is difficult because they usually are too informed one way or the other.