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An update on lawmaker action and other activities at the Ohio Statehouse related to horizontal

Published: Fri, October 4, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

An update on lawmaker action and other activities at the Ohio Statehouse related to horizontal hydraulic fracturing:

Academics: Ohio State University announced a number of faculty members who are focusing their attention on eastern Ohio’s shale oil fields.

According to a release, OSU’s Shale Environment Management Research Cluster, formed with a $50,000 grant last year, has attracted 30 faculty members.

“The shale energy industry is moving very quickly, and there’s not really much science behind what’s happening and what impact it can have, good or bad,” Zuzana Bohrerova, coordinator of the group and research specialist, said in a released statement. “We want to work on getting more data so there can be responsible decision-making around shale issues.”

Training: The Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Program played host to a two-day training session in Wayne County for emergency responders, helping them understand how to deal with fires and other incidents at oil drilling and production sites. According to a release, the session was the first of its kind in the country.

Economic impact: A new study by IHS Global Insight outlined a “full chain of economic activity” from fracking, “from drilling and refining to petrochemical supplies and manufacturing.” According to the study, the full unconventional value chain supported 2.1 million jobs last year and is projected to support 3.9 million jobs by 2025, including 515,000 manufacturing jobs.”

In a pickle: During a two-day natural-gas conference in Columbus, Tom Stewart, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, said producers are starting to get a better handle on Ohio’s shale oil fields, with much focus on pickle shape stretching through Carroll, Noble, Harrison, western Guernsey, Belmont, Monroe and possibly Washington counties.

“A well-defined sweet spot is becoming much, much more evident, [with] some very good wells in a narrow strip,” he said.

“We’re not really there yet,” he said when asked about updated projections for the expected economic impact on the state’s economy.

“What we need to see is a couple of years in the future and what happens when they are done validating and more interested in doing development of their positions.”

Campaign contributions and lobbying: A study by watchdog group Common Cause called for increased disclosure of lobbying expenses after a review of campaign contributions by oil and gas interests.

Among the findings, Common Cause noted that oil- and gas-industry lobbyists reported $43,000 in spending in Ohio in 2011 and ‘12, compared with $12.7 million reported in Pennsylvania, where they are required to report how much compensation they receive from clients.

Common Cause also found that fracking interests pumped upward of $1.8 million into lawmaker and political party campaign coffers.

Public records: State Rep. Bob Hagan, D-Youngstown, called on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to request public records related to D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating’s brine dumping incident.

“Questions still surround the investigation into one of the most egregious violations of Ohio environmental law in recent memory,” Hagan said in a released statement. “The public deserves to know who knew what and when.”

He added, “Free access to information acts as a fundamental check on government overreach or misconduct. It is only through transparency and openness that government functions at its best and remains responsive to the people’s will.”

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