Nathan Johnson, Director of Public Lands, February 17, 2014
OEC responds to release of ODNR state parks fracking memo
(Columbus, OH) – The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) is expressing deep disappointment over the revelation that Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials wasted valuable resources planning a public relations campaign to promote fracking in Ohio’s state parks and forests.
Last Friday, ODNR released the plan to reporters after a public records request by the Ohio Sierra Club.
The plan reveals it was drafted in 2012 by Ohio regulators to discredit environmental groups and state lawmakers opposed to oil and gas drilling in state parks and forests. The plan called for ODNR to enlist the help of energy company Halliburton, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and an oil and gas industry group to discredit advocates of preservation.
“Our state government should not be frittering valuable time and taxpayer money on a pr campaign designed to ‘neutralize’ legitimate concerns about impacts to public lands and public health and safety from fracking in our state parks and forests,” said Nathan Johnson, staff attorney for the OEC.
“The ODNR should be an impartial watchdog, not an industry cheerleader. It’s shocking to learn that ODNR laid plans to actively enlist the help of extractive industries to ‘marginalize’ respected voices for the preservation of our natural heritage.
“The public would be better served if ODNR focused its public relations efforts, instead, on more constructive efforts. They could start by helping the public understand the basic link between the rate of taxation on oil and gas production and funding for more adequate state oversight and enforcement of oil and gas regulations.
“It is interesting to note that the communication plan listed ‘disseminate videos about inspections’ to help garner favor for public lands drilling. This is hardly a selling-point, however. An analysis (http://goo.gl/b6yidf) of ODNR records reveal that only 1 in 10 active oil and gas wells in Ohio were inspected by ODNR officials in 2010,” Johnson concluded.