jueves, 4 de mayo de 2017

Ohio lawmakers add budget provision that could open state parks to fracking

Wayne National Forest, Marietta Unit in Ohio, U.S., in this handout photo received May 2, 2017. Taylor McKinnon/Center for Biological Diversity/Handout via REUTERS

By Kim Palmer
Wed May 3, 2017

Ohio legislators took a step toward allowing fracking in state parks, adding a provision in a pending budget that would strip the governor of the ability to control the issuing of licenses for the oil and gas drilling practice that has raised environmental concerns.

The provision, added on Tuesday by the Republican-controlled House, would allow the state legislature instead of the governor to control appointments to the Oil and Gas Commission responsible for issuing drilling licenses for state lands.

Governor John Kasich, a Republican, has not named any members to the four-member commission since signing the bill that created the group in 2011. This has effectively halted any fracking in parks.

Fracking opponents complained that the legislature was now trying to find a way to allow fracking without the proper safeguards to ensure public safety.

“It is an end run by Republicans in the legislature to facilitate more fracking and drilling in Ohio state parks,” David Leland, a Democratic state representative from Columbus who voted against the budget partly due to the measure, said on Wednesday.

Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into wells to fracture shale and release natural gas and oil. Critics say the practice has polluted water supplies, while backers say it supplies needed energy resources.

Proponents of the provision said it would not necessarily result in widespread drilling and fracking in state parks.

“The provision is simply an attempt to fill that committee,” Ben Miller, spokesman for the Ohio House Republicans, said on Wednesday.

Separately, four conservation groups have sued the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management in an attempt to halt fracking plans in Ohio's only national forest….

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