COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — With fracking soon becoming a reality in Ohio state parks and forests, the public had a chance to voice their concerns Thursday morning during a commission meeting of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
At the meeting, activists and people who enjoy public parks statewide asked the commission to add some points to the rule they are drafting.
Activist Cathy Cowan Becker said the original draft had nothing about public notification or comments.
“Ohioans own the public land,” she said. “We’re the taxpayers who pay for it, we use it, we use it for education and enjoyment. We want to know if someone is thinking about fracking or drilling on our public land, and we want a chance to weigh in and have a say on that.”
Cowan Becker and others at the meeting want an email notification system so people can be alerted when a particular parcel of public land is nominated to be fracked or extracted. They also asked the nominated grounds up for fracking be easy to access on the ODNR website, with an interactive map showing which areas of public land may be fracked.
“There are a lot of really toxic chemicals in frack water,” Cowan Becker said. “The extraction process leaks a lot of methane. Methane is 86 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.”
The drafting of a new rule is necessary because House Bill 507 was signed into law a few weeks ago, allowing oil and gas companies frack on public land. The law states that the state shall lease “in good faith” any parcel of land owned or controlled by a state agency.
HB 507 goes into effect on April 7.
“Because of House Bill 507, the only way they can put a stop to it, going directly to the agency and the agency being compelled to lease is getting that rule through the approval process,” Cowan Becker said.
If the rule isn’t approved before April 7, the oil and gas industry would be able to frack and extract in state parks without notifying the public or allowing the public to comment.