From The Columbus Dispatch:
With three legislators objecting to the “raid,” a state board on Monday approved appropriating $15 million from an oil-and-gas fund designated by law to protect Ohioans and the environment, to be used to pay a settlement of an unrelated lawsuit.
The Controlling Board voted 4-3 to remove the money from the fund, which is used in part to seal “orphan” natural-gas and oil wells, to fund a settlement with landowners near Grand Lake St. Marys whose properties have flooded since a widening of the dam spillway in 1997.
In response to questions about the legality of the move, Department of Natural Resources officials said temporary language long inserted in state budgets permits money to be withdrawn from an assortment of funds to pay legal settlements.
Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, objected to using the fund for an unrelated purpose.
“This multimillion-dollar cash grab by the state shows where Columbus politicians’ priorities are — not with hardworking taxpayers and property owners in eastern Ohio,” Cera said. “After almost 10 years to plan for a lawsuit settlement in the western part of Ohio, state officials failed to responsibly plan for the future and instead are robbing our area of what’s rightfully ours.”Read this whole article by clicking here.
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