A geopolitical conflict is taking shape in Ohio that is as ecopolitically complicated as, well, the term "ecopolitics."
Use of hydraulic fracturing to free natural gas reserves for extraction via wells has been controversial in itself. That's regardless of whether the term "ecopolitical" refers to the study of politics as influenced by economics, or to the study of the interrelation between political and ecological issues.
The issue in this situation isn't fracking itself but the wastewater that results from the process. Some of the liquid is reused, but much of the toxic brew must treated or pumped back into the ground - and the injection disposal method is cheaper.
But since a series of earthquakes in the Youngstown area has been blamed on the injection of wastewater that's a byproduct of fracking, the controversy surrounding the process has become more complicated.
Following a 4.0-magnitude quake Saturday, Gov. John Kasich shut down a wastewater well on which the quake was blamed and four others in the area as the seismic activity is reviewed.
Meanwhile, drilling continues in the Marcellus Shale, a deep formation that lies beneath Ohio, West Virginia, Pannsylvania and other neighboring states. Which means the need to handle the toxic byproduct won't go away.
Note, though, that development officials in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania are vying to land a large Shell Oil Co. chemical plant that could bring thousands of new jobs and millions of tax dollars to the winning state. The plant would process some of the natural gas expected to be extracted from the shale.
It seems as though the states also have incentives to attract a facility that would effectively, efficiently and economically handle the treatment of wastewater generated by fracking.
That's a solution that would work well ecologically and economically.