Don’t expand drilling to state parks, says Dispatch editorial

I do not normally agree with the Columbus Dispatch’s editorial board. Shocking, I know. Of all the large daily papers in this state you would think that the one located literally across the street from the state legislature would have a little more quality insight in the work that goes on there. Instead, what we normally get are just Republican talking points dressed up as the paper’s attempt at an editorial.

That is why today I was shocked, and pleased, to find the editors of the Dispatch taking a well reasoned and well defended stance against expanding oil and gas drilling on state owned lands. The Dispatch did a great job hitting all of the main points of contention in this debate. Ranging from the minuscule amount of money that will be raised to the fact that 99.5% of land in Ohio is already open for drilling, the article did a fantastic job in totally debasing the argument in support of the movement to expand drilling in this state.

In fact, as I type this right now the House of Representatives is debating a bill on the House floor, HB 133, that would do exactly that. The bill would allow all state owned land to be open to oil and gas drilling. There is a companion piece of legislation in the Senate but don’t be surprised if the Senate simply decides to include their legislation in the amendments they will be making in the state budget in the coming week. Both bills include language that would direct any funds generated by the expanded drilling to go toward capital improvements in state parks.

At best the argument for expanding drilling in this state is disingenuous and at its worst it is a bold face lie masquerading as a public giveaway to a powerful private interest group. Republicans like to say that allowing companies to drill on state owned land will help relieve our dependence on foreign energy sources, will create jobs, and will help build Ohio’s economy. What they don’t tell you is that public owned lands make up .5% of the land in Ohio, the amount of oil or gas under that land would be so small that it would be a rain drop in the ocean of fuel sources on the market, and that the extraction of the oil and gas can be damaging to the ecosystem and pollute water supplies. This last point is already being realized by neighboring states.

Pennsylvania, with thousands of fracking wells in operation, has seen its share of problems. Spills and blowouts at the surface can spill fuel and contaminated water on the ground; some streams have been polluted with brine and other chemicals that treatment plants couldn’t handle and some underground water supplies have been contaminated with methane and other chemicals.

It was nice to see the Dispatch finally get one right. Now, if only they can keep this up. I’m not holding my breath though.


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