An update on lawmaker action and other activities at the Ohio Statehouse related to horizontal hydraulic fracturing:
Tea Party Ire: The head of a Tea Party group publicly chastised Gov. John Kasich and like-minded elected officials for stances on a variety of issues, including their support of a tax hike on oil and gas produced via horizontal hydraulic fracturing. The provision, included in the governor’s biennial budget proposal, was later removed by Republicans in the Ohio House.
No Peace: Fracking opponents sent a letter to the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, saying the oil and gas industry and environmental groups were still at odds, despite assertions to the contrary.
In a released statement, Buckeye Forest Council Director Cheryl Johncox said, “This industry ploy simply puts green lipstick on a pig. It in no way represents the thousands of groups around the nation fighting against this dangerous industry. We will continue to fight this global scheme to extract and export fossil fuels at the expense of our climate and our health. We will not be silenced. The public should not be fooled by this industry scam.”
Removed: Republicans in the Ohio House removed a number of fracking- related provisions proposed by Kasich in his two-year budget plan, including language that would ban brine from horizontal hydraulic-fracturing activities to be spread on roads for dust or ice control, increase production reports from horizontal well owners, increase notifications of lease transfers and create an impact fee paid in advance by drillers, who would recoup the costs over time.
Park Proceeds: Among amendments added to the budget by House Republicans was language directing a portion of proceeds from oil and gas production at parks and other state-owned sites to the Clean Ohio Fund for industrial site redevelopment, farmland protection and open-space projects. A couple of days later, environmental groups criticized the move.
“When Ohioans overwhelmingly approved the Clean Ohio Fund in 2008, I’m pretty sure they didn’t expect the state to drill our most precious parks to pay for it,” Jed Thorp, manager of the Ohio Sierra Club, said in a prepared statement. “If this wasn’t so sad, it would be laughable.”
Radioactive: Another group praised lawmakers’ removal of provisions related to low-level radioactive waste from fracking activities.
“Gov. Kasich’s proposed budget would have allowed the oil and gas industry to dispose of more radioactive waste from hydraulic-fracturing operations in solid waste landfills,” Alison Auciello, representing Food & Water Watch, said in a prepared statement.
“The fact that these so-called regulations were stripped from the budget is a victory for Ohioans and their essential resources, particularly because none of Ohio’s landfills are equipped to handle low-level radioactive waste.”
Support: A survey released by the Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University Polling Institute found that a majority of 1,138 Ohio voters questioned (63 percent) “believe the economic benefits of drilling for natural gas and oil in the state outweigh environmental concerns.”