State Representative Mark D. Okey called on Governor John Kasich and legislative leaders in an open letter to act on legislation protecting Ohio’s landowners from predatory leasing practices by the oil and gas industry. As the Governor and his allies consider raising taxes on deep-shale drilling, Rep. Okey urged Republican leadership to make landowners’ rights a priority when the General Assembly returns to session.
“Governor Kasich’s recent press conference on fracking was a missed opportunity,” Rep. Okey said. “Every day, Big Oil is taking advantage of my constituents and people all around Ohio. The state needs to act now to protect their property rights before it is too late.”
Based on his personal experience representing landowners in eastern Ohio, Rep. Okey has sponsored House Bill 493, known as the “Truth in Leasing Act.” The bill would establish common-sense regulation of the oil and gas leasing process and guarantee a minimum royalty for Ohio’s landowners akin to those found in neighboring states.
Since being introduced in March, the bill has yet to receive a hearing in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, chaired by Rep. Dave Hall (R-Millersburg).
“Drilling in Ohio must be done fairly and responsibly, and Ohioans deserve their full share of the earnings from the oil and gas on their property,” Rep. Okey said. “I call on Speaker Batchelder and Chairman Hall to work with me on this issue. Protecting Ohio’s landowners should not be a matter of partisan politics.”
A copy of Rep. Okey’s letter can be seen below.
July 19, 2012
To: John R. Kasich, Governor
William G. Batchelder, Speaker of the House
Dave Hall, Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources
Re: Landowners’ Rights
Dear Governor Kasich, Speaker Batchelder, and Chairman Hall,
Protection of property rights is one of the basic tenets of government, yet one that our state has avoided when it comes to shale drilling. The General Assembly broke for summer recess without debating what I would consider to be reasonable regulation of the shale drilling industry. We missed another opportunity to stand up for our constituents’ property rights. I was encouraged to see Governor Kasich bring drilling issues back to the forefront during his press conference last week.
Issues of taxation aside, there are common-sense reforms we can make to the oil & gas leasing process that would be good for both Ohio’s landowners and the companies developing our state’s natural resources. It is my firm belief that we have not done enough to regulate the drilling industry and to adequately protect the rights and property of Ohio’s landowners.
Our failure to act means that the industry will continue to face costly lawsuits and allegations of misconduct until we pass reasonable legislation to improve the leasing process in our state.
I have spoken to all of you on this subject, and I have shared stories of unethical and predatory behavior happening in my district and around the state. The time to act is now, as more and more landowners face the consequences of unscrupulous leasing practices.
It is my firm belief that we can find common ground on this issue. We can correct inequities and solve problems in a bipartisan fashion. I urge you to work with me on House Bill 493, my “Truth in Leasing” legislation.
While I have received encouraging feedback from colleagues on both sides of the aisle, leadership refuses to move this bill. I urge immediate action on House Bill 493, in order to protect our landowner constituents.
My door is always open. Please feel free to contact me or my office at any time.
MARK D. OKEY