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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Why Do Activists Really Oppose the New Ohio Bill?

Activist groups not happy to be legally neutered
The new bill that is progressing through the Ohio House would bring some pretty strict regulations to the oil and gas industry.  One might think that environmental groups would like the bill because of that.

Yet, groups such as the Ohio Environmental Council and the Sierra Club are opposing the bill because of a provision regulating who has the right to sue the oil and gas industry for withholding chemical trade secrets.

From the Times Bulletin:
Jack Shaner of the Ohio Environmental Council said the provision establishing who has standing to sue over trade secrets would make it virtually impossible for most Ohioans to file legal action. 
"Virtually impossible for most Ohioans to file legal action."  Is that accurate?

Another quote from the same article (italics ours):
Under the contested provision, those eligible to sue companies that withhold chemical trade secrets would include property owners, adjacent neighbors, and any person or state agency "having an interest that is or may be adversely affected" by the chemical protected as a trade secret. 
"Any person or state agency 'having an interest that is or may be adversely affected.'"  Doesn't sound like most Ohioans are going to be unable to file legal action to me.

But wait, who isn't on that list?  Oh yeah...activist groups.

Ah, I see - to Shaner and the Sierra Club "most Ohioans" obviously means their organizations.

So this measure will serve to limit frivolous, attention-grabbing, grandstanding lawsuits by activist organizations while allowing Ohio residents who may have a legitimate claim to take appropriate legal action if necessary.  No wonder those organizations are upset.  Some of their favorite tactics are being legally outlawed.

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