Kasich: Bill is tough but fair
By Marc Kovac
Gov. John Kasich touted energy legislation signed into law Monday as tough but fair, protecting the environment while setting the stage for economic development.
“We were not going to develop shale gas at the expense of the environment,” Kasich said. “And we have contained in this bill the most aggressive, clearest, fairest and strongest fracking regulations that you can find anywhere in the country.”
He added later, “We have, without any doubt, the toughest law on fracking fluid in America.”
The comments came just before the governor added his signature to Senate Bill 315, lengthy legislation that included policy proposals related to advanced and renewe-able energy, water conservation and waste- water treatment.
Kasich signed the bill in Akron at Echogen Power Systems, a company that has developed an apparatus that converts waste heat from industrial operations into energy. The legislation includes provisions to promote the use of such technologies.
“You’re generating this waste heat,” he said. “It goes up into the environment. ... It’s going up, and now you can capture it, you can clean the environment and generate the ability for more power for the companies. They save money, the environment is cleaner and we can meet our standards in a way in which we don’t have to buy more expensive power.”
Sections of the bill related to horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, generated much public debate in recent months.
The law changes will require increased disclosure of fracking chemicals and water usage, water well sampling within 1,500 feet of proposed horizontal wells and so-called “cradle-to-grave” documentation and tracking of oil and gas wells from the time they are started until they are capped.
Shippers of brine and other waste fluids will have to be disclosed prior to injection into disposal wells.
“We will not permit wild-catting without an awful lot of reporting and seismic imaging,” Kasich said.
The bill also requires increased inspections of wells and liability insurance coverage for well owners. Drillers who break the law could face up to $20,000 in daily fines.
A number of Democrats and environmental groups opposed the new law, saying it doesn’t go far enough to protect the public or the environment or to ensure Ohioans benefit from the economic boon expected from oil and gas produced using horizontal hydraulic fracturing.
In particular, they criticized provisions that would block residents’ ability to appeal the terms and conditions of well permits and inadequate disclosures of proprietary fracking fluids.
But the legislation received support from some Democrats, including state Rep. Sean O’Brien of Trumbull County, who was on hand for Monday’s bill signing.
“We’ve got to do this, we’ve got to do it right,” he said. “We’re only going to get one chance to do it... This legislation is a good step forward.”
Kasich said he is confident Ohio will move forward with fracking in a way that is safe.
“We have tougher regulations in high-pressure pipelines and gathering lines than the federal government,” he said. “We have the most extensive fracking liquid disclosure in the country. ... This bill is extensive. It is aggressive. It does protect the environment. We’re committed to it because it’s the Lord’s creation. We’re not going to worship it, but we’re going to protect it.”