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Much of the time, a winter storm keeps people snug at home but apparently not in Ohio when gas development is at stake. Nearly 300 residents and elected officials in Canton (Stark County) turned out last week for a debate on the issue. Even in a state with a long history of digging and drilling for fossil fuels, modern-day gas extraction is clearly something worth learning about.

And also worrying about, as industry trains its sights on both the Marcellus and the even deeper Utica shale, and newly elected Governor Kasich openly hopes that gas will be an answer to his budgetary prayers.

Industry representatives at the Canton meeting may have expected their enthusiasm for drilling to be so infectious that attendees wouldn t notice the smoke they were verbally blowing. Like when Tom Stewart of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association stated there’s no exemption for hydraulic fracturing in the Safe Drinking Water Act. Or when Steve Grose, formerly of Range Resources, said the link between gas drilling and health problems is overblown and that the company is innocent despite what federal regulators know is going down in Texas.

Fortunately, some of the crowd wasn t buying it wholesale, but instead asked questions about gas development risks, rules, problems, and solutions. Maybe it helped that the debate was in a township considering a ban on gas drilling. Maybe the jobs-and-revenue picture was painted just a bit too brightly to seem true.

Or it might just be that people willing to drive through the snow to talk about the future of their communities aren t about to let industry cloud their vision so easily.

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