A judge in Franklin County, Ohio ruled Monday that a Guernsey County couple can bring a lawsuit to stop fracking beneath and around Seneca Lake.

The couple filed the suit in October.

Earlier last year, Ohio’s Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District approved a $40.3 million lease with Colorado-based Antero Resources.

The lease covered underground mineral rights to 6,400 acres, including the lake.

The couple — Leatra Harper and Steven Janstro — are arguing that the watershed district and the state acted improperly in approving the project.

Common Pleas Judge Tim Horton ruled Monday they can sue because they “have suffered or are threatened with direct and concrete injury” to their health, to the environment where their property lies, and to the property’s value.

The lawsuit names as defendants the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and  Antero Resources.

More than 660 wells have been drilled and fracked in Ohio since 2010.

Harper and Janstro own residential property near the lake and within the district boundary.

As evidence, they submitted a 2012 geological study that said fracking in the area would cause toxic contaminants to enter the geological formations affecting Ohio’s  the third-largest inland lake.

The land leased in question is 80 miles east of Columbus.

The lease allows Antero Resources to drill beneath the lake and on district land from wells outside the district.

Harper, one of the plaintiffs who brought the suit, has been an anti-fracking activist with the Southeast Ohio Alliance to Save Our Water since 2012, the Columbus Dispatch said.

Tom Stewart, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, said the risks associated with fracking have been safely managed through government regulations that the industry welcomes.

Antero can continue drilling and fracking until the suit is decided, the Columbus Dispatch said.


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