The Eight farmers and local business leaders, who were charged with criminal trespass for blocking trucks carrying fracking waste leading to a fracking waste disposal site operated by K&H Partners of West Virginia in early February, all took a plea deals this morning in Athens County Municipal Court. The eight plead to a lower charge of disorderly conduct, a minor misdemeanor, and received a $150 fine, $100 of which was suspended. Those arrested include: Kip Rondy, owner of Green Edge Farms; Michelle Ajamian, owner of Shagbark Seed and Mill; Christine Hughes, owner of the Village Bakery, Smiles Welch, a local pastor, Sean Pavlac, Timothy Fultz, Caprice Huffman and Liz Florentino.
Kip Rondy read the following statement at the hearing:
“Your Honor, we, the persons now before the Court, are persons of reason who have done all that we could within the statute of the law to prevent the destruction of our natural, economic and social environment. The Commissioners of Athens County, as well as the City Council of Athens Ohio, have unanimously enacted a resolution opposing the development of an additional injection well at the K&H site. K&H at present is daily injection 2,100 barrels of toxic, radioactive waste at its location in Troy Township. Much of that said waste is being generated by out-of-state fracking operations. The new proposed injection well at the K&H facility will allow for the disposal of an additional 4,000 barrels of waste, daily. Despite appeals form the citizenry of the Athens community, the aforementioned actions of both the elected county and city officials, documented earthquakes, and other significant environmental damage at other injection well sites within the boundaries of the state of Ohio, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has proven to be unresponsive in addressing these community concerns. ODNR has failed in its duty as protectorate of the citizenry and the resources delegated to them by statute. The ODNR has failed to hold public hearings concerning the proposed injection well, ignored and denied lawful information requests, and continues to act in a capricious and arbitrary manner concerning the citizen’s stated objections. It is then, when we the Citizenry of Athens county, facing the real and permanent threat to our aquifer, our air, our earth – when the will of lawfully elected officials is ignored – that the acts of civil disobedience before the court today are not merely justified, but become obligatory. Citizens so informed must, at some level, engage in civil disobedience on behalf of themselves, future generations, and society at large.”
A support rally led by the Activist Choir followed the sentencing near the steps of the Athens County courthouse.