Thou Shalt Frac Thy Forests, Parks & Universities!

Ohio lawmakers passed a bill to accelerate drilling and fracking in state parks, and on other state-owned land. The Bill is headed to Governor Mike DeWine’s desk!

On December 22, 2022, Julie Grant of The Allegheny Front writes, Ohio bill to spur fracking in state parks and forests heads to governor’s office

Since 2011, state agencies have been authorized to lease Ohio’s public lands for oil and gas drilling, including parks, forests, nature preserves and universities. The language of that law said agencies “may” lease state lands for oil and gas production. “The key part of the amendments goes from ‘may’ to ‘shall,’” said Senator Tim Schaffer, a Republican who represents parts of central and southeastern Ohio and sponsored the amendment.

StateImpact Pennsylvania | December 22, 2022

Ohio State Senator Tim Schaffer – (R) District 20
Top campaign donors for 2020 included: $3,000 NiSource Inc. PAC; $2,000 Halliburton Company; $2,000 Ohio Oil & Gas Producers Fund; $1,000 Ohio Coal PAC Source

As Concurred by the House – Sub. H.B. No. 507:

Senator Schaffer is also the primary sponsor of SB No. 363 to create the “Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program” license plate, with the proceeds used “to pay for programs that provide assistance and education to Ohio breast cancer patients and that improve access for such patients to quality health care and clinical trials…” Talk about an oxymoron!

“Most people in Ohio don’t want to see oil and gas rigs, don’t want to smell air pollution, don’t want to worry about water quality in their state parks or in the other public lands that they’re out hiking in with their families. There’s a big question, policy-wise, whether or not the best use of those public lands is to lease them to oil and gas development, to fracking, whether that’s on economic grounds, ecological grounds, outdoor recreation grounds in particular. An oil and gas company could knock on the state’s door and say, ‘Hey, we want to drill in this park,’ and the state legally would have no real ability to say no,” he explained. “So that’s dramatically going to change the process.”

Nathan Johnson, public lands director for the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund
Ohio does not currently have rules for drilling on state lands.

So in the meantime, the Ohio Oil & Gas Land Management Commission is working on rules for state leases on public lands, having met only three times. The commission recently issued this draft of a standard lease agreement:

Standard Oil and Gas Lease – Version 2 – December 1, 2022:
The commission is accepting public comment on the draft lease agreement until January 13, 2023.

Public Comments are due to the Commission by 5:00pm on Friday, January 13, 2023. Please submit all comments to Nate Moffitt. Public comments are now open on both the second version of the standard lease form AND the proposed rule, due in by January 13. Public comments to the second version of the standard lease form AND the proposed rule will be heard by the Commission at the meeting scheduled for: Wednesday, February 1, 2023 10:00am
Ohio Department of Natural Resources, 2045 Morse Road, Building E, 1st Floor Assembly Center, Columbus, OH 43229

If that doesn’t put coal in your stocking, get a load of this:

Defining Natural Gas As Green Energy
Another amendment to this bill would classify natural gas as “green energy.” It specifically excludes natural gas from receiving renewable energy credits that utilities need to comply with Ohio’s renewable energy portfolio standard, which requires that a certain percentage of energy sold be generated from clean energy sources. Shaffer said classifying natural gas as green energy makes sense because it’s cleaner burning than coal and has greatly reduced Ohio’s greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental groups counter that calling natural gas a green energy is insincere because it is still a fossil fuel that is contributing to climate change.

StateImpact Pennsylvania | December 22, 2022
The next stop is Governor Mike DeWine’s office.
Contact Governor DeWine here