State Rep. Bob Hagan, a Youngstown Democrat, compared Ohio's fracking legislation to a "runaway locomotive." He was one of several House members who tried unsuccessfully to stop the bill approved by state lawmakers this week.
Many Ohioans are ambivalent about that speeding train and about how the rush by state leaders to accommodate oil and gas drillers could come at the public's expense. General awareness of the oil industry's accelerated interest in Ohio's natural resources is limited to what is projected about new jobs and economic revival.
That's how big money, behind the move to drill in areas of the state rich in Utica and Marcellus shale, effectively framed the fracking issue to Ohioans. The ploy worked brilliantly.
With voters fixated on the economy, politicians who might otherwise balk at the audacious demands of drillers -- no severance tax, guarded disclosure of drilling fluids, no citizen appeal of drilling permits -- caved in. Proceed at any cost.
Voices that urged environmental precaution, more transparency, greater citizen input into drilling decisions, and stricter regulation and inspection never had a chance against industry giants. The abiding influence of powerful oil and gas companies to shape driller-friendly policy in the state, starting with Gov. John Kasich's administration, overwhelmed opponents.
"It's about control," conceded Mr. Hagan, whose district experienced an earthquake on New Year's Eve that has been linked to a wastewater injection well near a fault line.
"We are really at the epicenter of the [drilling] discussion itself," he told me. But it's tough to get the prodrilling crowd to debate or even talk about community concerns, he said.
"Kowtowing politicians are still doing whatever they can to protect the industry," said the frustrated lawmaker.Read the rest of the article here.
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