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Steady Oil Prices Prompt More Fracking Activity In Ohio

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says it has permitted 17 more horizontally-fracked wells in five eastern counties. The state permits allow for more oil and gas development in an area known as the Utica shale. Youngstown State University geologist Jeffrey Dick says oil and gas reserves in the region are plentiful. He expects drilling activity in Ohio to last decades. "Given the amount of reserves that are down there and the acreage that's left to be drilled, I think you're easily looking at 20 to 40 years easily," says Dick.

Dick estimates that only 4 percent of the acreage in the Ohio's Utica Shale has been drilled. He says that means continued fracking activity as long as crude oil prices remain stable. "But as long as the economy across the planet is doing fairly well and India and China continue to expand I don't think we're going to see any drop in the price of a barrel of oil anytime soon," Dick says.

ODNR says more than 1,000 fracked wells have been drilled and nearly 600 are now producing oil and gas. With more production comes more toxic wastewater. ODNR says the volume of drilling site wastewater injected into underground wells rose 15 percent from 2012 to 2013. The agency is investigating seismic activity around two injection wells after reports of earthquakes near those sites.