COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — It is now officially legal for oil and gas companies to frack from state parks, as a new state law goes into effect.
However, the state’s Oil and Gas Management Commission still needs to finalize a lease agreement for those companies, and the president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, Rob Brundrett, said he is not happy with the current draft.
“Several items in the draft lease remain as obstacles to the responsible development of the state’s oil and natural gas resources,” he said.
The current draft is 17 pages long, provides a primary lease of the state land for three years, and allows it to continue if oil and gas are being produced in paying quantities or if operations are conducted in the search for oil and gas.
Brundrett said one concern of the three-year lease is that it allows for the state to terminate the lease at any time if the premises are needed for public use.
“This termination can occur regardless of how much investment a producer made into developing the related unit without any concern for producers related contractual obligations,” Brundrett said. “That amount could easily be in the tens of millions of dollars and this provision will discourage most, if not all, investment in state lands.”
Fracking requires millions of gallons of water, but the current lease draft does not allow usage of any water on the leased land, both from lakes, ponds and rivers, and water that is beneath the land.
On Monday, the commission also heard from several Ohioans who said they’re not happy with the way this bill was passed, and they don’t want to see it go any further.
“This law will not stand,” Jenny Morgan said. “Do you hear me, big gas and oil? This law will not stand.”
“I will leave this state if fracking begins on our public lands,” Dr. Joseph Blanda said.
Some, like Bladna, said they are worried about the health effects fracking could have on Ohioans who live near state parks or visit them.
“Are you willing to support the fossil fuel industry and ignore the public health concerns of the citizens of Ohio?” he said. “Exposing their families and kids to harmful toxins that have been proven to be associated with multiple medical conditions such as asthma or as deadly as cancer?”
“Our children and families need our parks, and they need our parks to be safe and clean,” Morgan said.
The commission said it will spend the next week considering all the public testimony heard Monday and will meet in one week to vote on the lease agreement.
A draft of the lease agreement is below.