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Local natural gas explosion marks anniversary

Dear Editor,

February marks three years since the devastating explosion and blowout of a natural gas well in Belmont County, Ohio.

XTO Energy, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, was responsible for this tragedy. Sixty-thousand tons of methane were emitted from this incident, (more than many European countries release in an entire year), marking it as one of the worst methane leaks in U.S. history.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to global warming as it is 80 times as potent as carbon dioxide.

As of 2018, Eastern Ohio has 2,317 shale wells, and had 495 more permits for drilling. The Biden Administration recently implemented a moratorium for oil and gas leasing on federal lands, which brings hope that more of Ohio’s lands will be protected from becoming drilling sites. This moratorium would not impact currently functioning wells, but it can prevent situations in the future like the aforementioned explosion.

Ohioans have not forgotten the environmental devastation from the Belmont County disaster. The natural beauty and prestige of Appalachia ought to be protected through a combined state and federal approach.

Ben Hunkler

Bridgeport

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