Coming to a Park Near You!

No, it’s not new playground equipment, improved walking paths or updated camping facilities. 

Ohioans look out, the newest attraction at your favorite state part may very well be an oil well!!!

Not what you expected?  We know how you feel.  See the video below for what may happen if we start turning state parks into an oil surveyor’s paradise.

Here are some of the comments from our members:

Rep. Matt Lundy

“The extreme agenda continues in Columbus where our valuable state assets are up for sale. Whether it’s plans to lease our Turnpike or turn our state parks over to corporations for the right price, this is careless and reckless.  The governor’s buddies will win and future generations of Ohioans will pay the price. This ‘drill at any cost’ mentality will have severe consequences. Recent spills and accidents in Pennsylvania serve as proof that this type of drilling near Lake Erie poses a threat to our most valuable resource.  Drilling in lakefront parks is just another example of how the governor and the majority party have an extreme agenda for Ohio that is all about money and not about what’s good for our families.”

Rep. Nickie J. Antonio

“This legislature should not jeopardize our public parks and nature preserves using them as the ‘canary in the coal mine’ risking their safety, natural beauty and environmental health with the experiment of ‘fracking’ that could forever contaminate and destroy these most precious public lands.”

Rep. Denise Driehaus

“Our predecessors had the foresight to set aside and invest in lands for public park use.  Investments were made then, and have been made since, to ensure that the public park system in Ohio would thrive into the future.  These individuals understood the value of parks, both from an environmental and an economic stand point.  Superior parks improve the quality of life in Ohio and in turn help drive economic growth.

As a member of the Cincinnati Recreation System for 16 years, I was periodically approached about selling off city golf courses and other assets.  It was our policy to refuse such offers no matter the short-term gain; we were the protectors not the owners of these lands.  The long-term consequences were too dire – once these lands were lost, they were lost forever.

I think we need to recognize that the Ohio State park system does not belong to us, the General Assembly.  The parks belong to the people of Ohio.  We are simply the stewards of these state assets.  It is our charge, during our service as state representatives, to preserve and care for the state’s assets on behalf of the citizens of the state.  We owe it to the future generations of Ohioans to be responsible public stewards.  We should work to preserve public parks instead of adulterating them for private profit.”

Rep. Sean J. O’Brien

“As stewards of our state parks, we have a duty and responsibility to protect these cherished areas.  With the history of our land and the enjoyment countless Ohioans receive while experiencing the pristine and natural beauty of our parks, to simply allow drilling and exploitation of these untouched lands, based on economic necessity and not scientific evidence, is negligent and irresponsible. We don’t know precisely what the future impact this bill will have on the integrity of our state parks, and until we do, we should really only rely on carefully conducted studies and not self serving propaganda.”

Rep. Ted Celeste

“I join the National Wildlife Federation, The Buckeye Forest Council, The Sierra Club, and The Ohio Environmental Council in opposition to this bill, as well as any effort to drill in our State Parks.  This has the potential to contaminate our underground water sources, damage the environment, and expose the public to health risks for years to come.  With less than 1% of Ohio’s total land area dedicated to State Parks, I believe there are better suited solutions to increasing State revenue that do not compromise our natural habitats or health.”

Rep. Teresa Fedor

“Drilling in our state parks is unwanted, unnecessary, and unsafe.  Most of Ohio is already open to drilling; most Ohioans oppose opening the state parks to drilling; and we need only look to Pennsylvania to see how many explosions, contaminated rivers, and other accidents can be caused by this new, unconventional drilling method.”

Rep. Sandra Williams

“Allowing oil companies to drill in Lake Erie will no doubt harm Ohio’s fishing, boating and tourism industry which provides over 1 billion dollars into Ohio’s economy.  The state would experience a net loss in allowing companies to take this valuable and profitable resource. That combined with the adverse effects on human health due to toxins in oil waste and the potential for accidental oil spills makes this a bad deal for Ohioans.”

Rep. Robert F. Hagan

“Oil and gas companies have access to about 99.5% of land in Ohio. It simply makes no sense that we write a blank check to oil companies to do whatever they like on taxpayer land. Until we can get approval and profit sharing for 11.5 million Ohioans, the Republicans shouldn’t pretend this is fair or reasonable. If I ever hear a Republican from this administration say they care about property rights in this state, it will be too soon.

Also, I thought the Ohio Department of Natural Resources might fight the Governor harder to protect public lands, but after realizing Kasich’s appointee,  Director Mustine, comes from the Texas oil and gas industry,  I must say- I wish I was surprised. It should come as no surprise then that taxpayers of this state will once again be subsidizing the profits of some of the most powerful corporations in the world.”

Assistant Minority Leader Matthew A. Szollosi

“It took former State Representative Barney Quilter 17 years to make his vision for Maumee Bay State Park a reality.  What would Rep. Quilter say about H.B. 133 and the vision of oil or gas rigs in our state parks?  He would have said ‘keep your damned hands off our state parks.’

Today’s vote in the House yet again demonstrates the majority Republican’s complete lack of regard for preservation of critical and precious state assets.  H.B. 133 is aligned with the trend in the House, which is eager to sell off prisons and lease the turnpike as well.

The revenue projections for drilling in our state parks are speculative at best, and pale in comparison to the damage this bill will cause due to the private exploitation of our state’s natural treasures.”

Rep. Dennis Murray

“Our parks are a promise made.  A promise kept.  And a call to renew.  Each successive generation is tasked as a steward of its inheritance and, in turn, looks to the next to renew the promise to do likewise. 

House Bill 133 would permit oil and gas companies or their straw men to “nominate” property owned by a state agency for drilling, without any provision for public input and indeed over the objections of the agency itself.  If approved for drilling, the agency is then required to utilize the industry standard lease.  In committee and on the floor we offered over a dozen amendments designed to protect the state and its treasury, to protect local communities and to protect our water sources.  Each was tabled.

 Make no mistake, the fracking that we are talking about is unconventional.  This is horizontal fracking, that goes down thousands of feet and then goes out in all directions for miles.  It has proven to be so dangerous in other states, such as Pennsylvania and New York, that it has been temporarily shut down while a better regulatory framework is developed.  There are only two such wells drilled in Ohio and while we on this side of the aisle are not ideologically opposed to fracking, our parks are the wrong place for experimentation.

Henry David Thoreau said that “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.”  I urge that we leave our parks alone and thereby secure for this generation and those to follow true riches in the simple enjoyment of nature.”

Rep. Kenny Yuko

“Since 1949, Ohio’s state park system has provided locations where individuals and families can go and enjoy our state’s natural beauty.  Because of today’s actions by the House Republicans, pristine campsites and lakes will now be littered with heavy drilling machinery.

The people of House District 7 have spoken to myself and Cleveland Councilman Michael Polensek expressing hopes, dreams, and concerns about our Euclid Beach State Park.  Our commitment to our constituents addresses our historical past, our challenging present, and our hopeful future.  We must respect our history while we hold vigil for what we leave to future generations.

The environmental risks of this bill are immense, and the only people benefitting from it will be the oil and gas industry.  In a time when we are looking to put Ohioans back to work, the only growth will be in the pocketbooks of big energy companies, and that is simply unacceptable.”

 

Rep. Debbie Phillips

“I am deeply disappointed by the passage today of HB 133 by the Republican majority in the Ohio House.  This bill is about our parks, which generations of Ohioans worked to create and protect.  House Democrats offered amendments that would protect the parks, prevent the use of water from our lakes, eliminate the requirement to use the industry-written lease language, protect Lake Erie, and protect counties that depend on tourism.  All were tabled on party-lines, and the bill passed on party-lines,” said Rep. Phillips. 

“More than 70% of Ohioans oppose the bill.  It’s a shame that House Republicans casually disregard the will of the people to benefit one industry.  I hope the Ohio Senate will seriously consider the fact that this is about our parks, and reverse course on this irresponsible corporate giveaway.”

“I understand the importance of a having a secure domestic energy policy at both the state and national level.  However, citizens should not be made to sacrifice these valued public lands that improve the quality of life of people in this state. Past generations saw fit to protect these public areas for our benefit, and we have a responsibility to future Ohio generations to do the same.”

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