Yesterday, the Kasich Administration announced that the Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources was leaving the Cabinet… to become the energy industry “manager” position in Jobs Ohio. As the Dispatch put it:
He moves from a post as director of the state Department of Natural Resources to a seat as energy manager for JobsOhio, Gov. John Kasich’s newly privatized development effort. Assistant Natural Resources Director Scott Zody will take over as interim chief of the agency.
Some of the new drilling might come on state lands he used to supervise; legislation passed this year allows wells of several types on state property, including parks.
Here’s a recap of how we got here.
December 2010: Kasich announces Dave Mustine, a former oil and gas executive to run the Ohio Department of Natural Resources:
“He’s a businessman. He understands the various issues on developing resources and being able to think outside of the box,” Kasich said.
Kasich indicated that he’s open to the idea of drilling for oil and gas under state parkland – an idea that has been kicked around by Republican lawmakers in the last few legislative cycles but never fully adopted.
In other words, Kasich hired him specifically for his gas industry expertise for the sole purpose of opening Ohio’s natural forest state parks to the gas industry, even though Kasich never mentioned in the campaign that he’d open the State parks to drilling or fracking.
January 2011: Mustine, the new head of ODNR, signals the upcoming budget challenges has him considering… opening the parks to his former industry for drilling.
June 2011: Republicans in the General Assembly slash the funding of ODNR by millions, and then cite the lack of the agency’s funding as why drilling in parks is necessary.
To today : When the guy who is charged with protecting our natural resources is going to JobsOhio . . . to help the companies who want to drill in our state parks get financial assistance by the State (through JobsOhio).
Chew on that for a moment.
We were told we needed to permit fracking in our state parks to balance our budget… by the same guy who is now helping the oil and gas industries get financial assistance from the State to frack.
Wouldn’t it have been easier just to, I dunno, give that money to fund ODNR? Even Rube Goldberg would say this is too much of a convoluted method to provide funds for ODNR.
Say, you don’t think the Kasich Administration has been using the budget and the economy as a phantom threat to justify an extreme anti-environmental policy like allowing gas drilling in our State parks that a few years ago was seen as too extreme to be taken seriously?
I think this shows you just how JobsOhio can operate as a massive loophole in our already weak ethics laws. Mustine would have to sit out a year if he wanted to go to work for a gas company and lobby his agency on its behalf. Now, he can work for JobsOhio immediately, essentially do the same thing, and then leave in a year once his “revolving door” waiting period is up. Any takers this guy a year from now leaves JobsOhio to work for a gas company or goes into consulting or lobbying? Anyone?