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Drilling should be investigated

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Gov. John Kasich’s attempt to serve two masters at one time ought to spur investigation into how oil and gas drilling is being regulated in Ohio.

Ohioans need to know who directed ODNR, the state’s chief regulatory body for drilling, to create a public campaign in 2012 to target opponents and rally Ohioans around hydraulic fracturing and drilling in Ohio’s state parks — and to what extent the plan influenced ODNR in its subsequent oversight of fracking.

The ODNR PR plan came to light a week ago after The Columbus Dispatch reported on it… Another PR stumble followed: Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesman, had to retract his statement that the Kasich administration knew nothing about the 2012 plan after an email released by the liberal group ProgressOhio revealed that members of the Kasich administration had sought a meeting in August 2012 with ODNR to talk about the communications plan and other issues….

The Plain Dealer editorial board had endorsed the law to allow drilling in state parks as long as there was no drilling on sensitive or scenic lands, arguing, in part, that it could help pay for millions of dollars of deferred park maintenance.

However, it ought to be patently obvious that a drilling regulator has no business writing a pro-drilling campaign. And it’s alarming that ODNR and the governor’s office appeared more interested in discrediting opponents than making sure that frackers were operating safely and within the law.


The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer