Debate over oil and gas drilling in cemeteries

Jul 2, 2012

New concern in natural gas-rich eastern Ohio has raised the question of whether cemeteries are a proper place for drilling. It started at the 122-year-old Lowellville Cemetery, in rural Poland Township.

Trustees there received a proposal this year to lease cemetery mineral rights for $140,000 plus a percentage of any royalties for any oil and gas. Similar offers soon followed at two other area cemeteries. Opponents say cemeteries are hallowed ground that shouldn't be sullied by drilling activity they worry will be noisy, smelly and unsightly. Defenders say drilling is so deep that it doesn't disturb the cemetery and can generate needed revenue to enhance the roads and grounds. Cemeteries join state parklands, playgrounds, churches and residential backyards among unusual places targeted in the region's shale drilling boom.