Last week, in yet another party-line vote, the Ohio House of Representatives voted to approve oil and gas drilling in State parks.  One of the main reasons Republicans justified the bill is by arguing that ODNR has $500 million  in delayed maintenance projects that fracking in the State forests will help fix. 

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which is lead by a former oil executive with no real conservation experience, has even put out a helpful website to make this very case.  They’ve even provided the math:


So, naturally, one way to solve the problem of $500 million in backlogged repairs is to cut the agency’s funding by $3 million, right?

Isn’t this kind of like say we have to drain a natural lake to fight the fire to your house I’m planning to start?

Not So InnocentSenator Shirley Smith (D-Cleveland) yesterday blasted this proposal in a press release:

“It puzzles me why we would want to have oil and gas drilling in our state parks when there are so many unanswered questions surrounding the environmental and economic ramifications of this proposal,” said Senator Smith.  “The state does not even know how much control it has over the mineral rights within certain areas of our parks.”

Senator Smith also expressed concern over the uncertainty of how much revenue this proposal is expected to generate. 

“If this is truly an issue about the economic situation of our state and finding solutions to keep our parks running in good order, then maybe the majority party should consider limiting the tax benefits that they offer their friends,” Senator Smith said.  “I can’t wait to see what other politicians leave the Statehouse to seek outside jobs with the oil and gas industry.” (emphasis added.)

State Senator Jimmy Stewart was unavailable for comment as he’s too busy packing his office (in lieu of Styrofoam peanuts, he’s probably using phone messages from constituents calling about SB 5 in a GOP form of recycling.