Ohio Man Sued for Speaking Out Against Fracking


CONTACT: Megan Lovett, Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services; 412.904.2568mlovett@fairshake-els.org

Mike Boals, interviews c/o Megan Lovett

Ohio Man Sued for Speaking Out Against Fracking

COSHOCTON, OH - A local Coshocton man excercising his right to free speech by speaking out against fracking waste in his community is being sued by a Texas company for voicing his concerns.

Mike Boals has lived in Coshcoton for nearly 50 years. When shale gas development, often called “fracking,” came to his community he saw immediate drawbacks. When an injection well was drilled near Coshocton to dispose of the polluted wastewater, he knew he had to act.

Boals rents two billboards a few hundred yards from the injection wells to inform readers about shale gas development in America. He focuses on the harm to water and includes a verse from the New Testament.  “I want people to think about what’s happening,” Boals says. “People don’t have a clue what an injection well is. Right now, it’s out of sight and out of mind.” 

Injection well company Buckeye Brine wants to silence Boals and is taking him to court, even though they are not named anywhere on the billboards.  The Texas-based company sued Boals on July 29, claiming everything from defamation to invasion of privacy. The claim states “Boals’ conduct exceeded all possible bounds of decency and is extreme and outrageous and utterly intolerable in civilized society."

“Speaking the truth and being a Christian is in no way intolerable in American society,“ said a member of Boals’ legal team, Megan Lovett of Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services. “In fact, free speech and religious expression are enshrined in our Constitution. This lawsuit is an attempt to bully Mike into submission with a handful of bogus claims. We intend to fight back and win."

Unfortunately, Boals may be silenced before he has his day in court. Buckeye Brine’s attorneys have also threatened the billboard owners if they don’t cooperate to take down the signs. Boals is currently in talks with the owners to honor their original agreement.

According to Ohio Department of Natural Resources, each fractured shale gas well uses four to six million gallons of freshwater. After drilling, the resulting wastewater is full of salt, chemicals, radioactive elements, and other substances. It cannot be treated as sewage and is never recycled as freshwater. Instead, drilling wastewater is removed from any human contact and is disposed of in underground injection wells, like the ones in Coshocton.           

Mike Boals’ signs are located near the corner of U.S. 36 and Airport Road in Coshocton, Ohio. 

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