What Is ‘Frackgate?’ Inside Ohio’s Fracking Controversy.

What Is ‘Frackgate?’ Inside Ohio’s Fracking Controversy.

Barkcamp State Park is one of the few places visitors can experience it. Ohio’s Forests as they were before European settlement. It was once the site of an historic logging camp. Today, it is a popular spot for camping, fishing and other outdoor recreation.

It could also be a place where oil and gas development could be pushed to the forefront if Ohio lawmakers approve this month lame-duck legislation that would remove obstacles to drilling on public lands.

While neither supporters nor critics have identified specific parks that might be of interest to this industry, a planning document from the previous governor’s administration shows at least three areas where oil or gas extraction might occur. These include Barkcamp as well as Wolf Run State Park, Suncreek Fish State Forest, and Wolf Run State Park.

This document, a strategic communication plan that was created by members of the Kasich administration in 2012 and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in 2013, sparked a political controversy. Frackgate It was made public two years later. It also predicted the backlash likely to follow any proposal for drilling under state parks.

“Vocal opposition to this initiative will react emotionally, communicate aggressively with the news media and on-line, and attempt to cast them as unprecedented and risky government policy.” The communication plan said.

Over a decade, Ohio law says that an agency “may” lease land to oil and gas drilling. House Bill 507The Ohio Senate passed the, without any public testimony on its last minute amendments. It would have changed that to say that the agency “shall” lease land “in good faith”.

Attorney Nathan Johnson, director for public lands at the Ohio Environmental Council, stated that if the bill becomes law, “the State Agency essentially must — must — lease land when the oil or gas company comes up to the door and demands the leasing.” He believes that the amendment would allow oil and gas companies free rein, without any safeguards for the environment or competing public interests.

The same legislation would also apply. Declare natural gas “green energy.”

Related: These are the Top Ten Oil And Gas Equipment And Services Companies

The history

A 2011 law A commission for oil and gas leasing was created and set out a framework to allow it to decide whether to grant drilling permits or enter into leases through a competitive bidding process. The bill was passed by lawmakers and signed by Gov. John Kasich signed the bill approximately one year before another law allowed widespread horizontal drilling and fracking in the state.

Members of the Kasich administrationThe Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and others created the Strategic communications plan Before potentially moving forward with drilling at Barkcamp Wolf Run and Sunfish Creek. All three are located within Ohio’s counties. Top seven oil and natural gas producers.

The communications plan was made public in 2014, and it led to Outcry From the Sierra Club, the Ohio Environmental Council and ProgressOhio among other groups. Days later, Kasich He had He changed his position Concerning drilling on state public lands. A pro-industry newsletter predicted that “Drilling on State Public Lands” would be a success.Frackgate“would remain an issue in Ohio during a time.

A 2015 bill Initially, drilling would have been required in certain cases on state public lands. However, this was changed in committee to exclude drilling below. State parks. The House passed the bill but it was not up for vote in the Senate.

Kasich did not appoint anyone for the leasing commission that would make permissive permit decisions. The terms of a 2017 budget bill were then sought to. The governor’s power is taken away To name the members of the commission, and to vote to Override Kasich’s veto. He began to make appointments, knowing he might lose.

Gov. Mike DeWine continued to appoint people to the commission. The commission has taken some action. Commentaries on a proposed standard lease agreement are invited Due Jan. 13. However, the final rules regarding leasing procedures have not been adopted.

The 2011 law, however, leaves leasing issues to the discretion of individual state agencies. Some Limited drilling Current law allows for the use of state public lands. Some political subdivisions have also entered leases, including the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District.

Where are we now?

Oil and gas companies have the right to drill on state land. However, there is no deadline and there is not an expedited process that they can drill,” said Sen. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster), who chaired the committee. Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Dec. 6 was the last day to discuss HB 507 He said that some proceedings drag on for years.

Schaffer stated, “It’s in the current law that this can be done, and these drillers could accomplish this.” “It’s very strict designed to ensure that we protect the environment. We protect public lands.”

The current statutes require that drilling be considered in relation to other uses of public land as well as its potential environmental and geological consequences. It is not clear how these provisions would apply before rules are adopted by the leasing commission for reviewing proposed parcels and accepting bids.

The amendment seems to require little more than proof of parcel identification and registration, evidence of insurance, and compliance with financial assurance requirements. The Legislative synopsis The new bill language stated that it “requires rather than authorizes” each state agency to lease agency oil and gas resources for development before the date that rules governing leasing procedures have been adopted by the Oil and Gas Land Management Commission.

Johnson stated that Johnson’s amendment was a power grab by oil and gas companies. Johnson stated that agencies would lose their discretionary authority and the industry would be able to decide where and when drilling will take place on state public lands. “It’s putting fox in charge the henhouse.”

Rob Brundrett (president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association) stated that “we strongly disagree” and noted that lease terms would still need to be fair and reasonable. HB 507, he believes, would speed up the process, especially in smaller areas where horizontal drilling would be allowed to proceed. He noted that such plots of land are often owned by or overseen, for example, by the Ohio Department of Transportation or Department of Administrative Services.

Brundett stated that the amendment “does not interfere or conflict” with any other interest in state land. Brundett said that any leases would still need to be “on just terms” and that the state would not allow the use of state lands for development without their consent.

Critics are concerned that the new bill language might not allow agencies to say no.

“The language change from “may” to’shall” changes the basis of the review process, from leasing being permissive or being required to leasing being permitted. It changes the meaning of ‘You’ to ‘You can Do this to ‘You Have “We have to do this,” said Neil Waggoner of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, Ohio. He and others are also concerned about oil and gas operations within state parks and forests.

“This is about going underground from outside a park facility, or any other place.” Schaffer: “… Citizens who use the park would not know the difference, because it’s not above ground.” .

However, HB 507’s language allows for surface operations if an agency agrees. The contrary, the 2015 bill The Ohio House passed legislation that explicitly forbade any operations in or beneath state parks and forbade surface drilling in state forests.

Waggoner stated, “No one wants a Fracking rig in a State Park.”

The House could approve the amended version as soon as Tuesday, December 13.

When asked if DeWine would veto the entire bill or just portions of it dealing with natural gas, Dan Tierney, spokesperson for the company, said that they are currently reviewing the bill and have not taken a formal position.

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