This issue involves hydraulic fracturing in state parks. Way back in 2011, as the unconventional oil and gas boom was still gaining steam, the Ohio legislature authorized leasing out state park land for drilling. Ohio’s parks had never been leased for drilling before. The bill was passed basically along party lines, as many legislators looked enviously at Pennsylvania, which had just collected $128 million in revenue from leasing rights in its forests and parks. At the time, Gov. Kasich said he supported the bill, which created a new Oil and Gas Leasing Commission to handle the process. The Commission was to be made up of five members, one from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and then four others appointed by the Governor.
Gov. Kasich signed the bill into law, but he then backed away from the idea of drilling on park lands. He never appointed a single person to the Commission, and as a result it has never taken any action. It was supposed to write regulations for drilling on park lands by 2012, but that deadline came and went without a peep. Gov. Kasich has sparred with the industry over oil and gas taxes, so perhaps that is keeping him from acting.
On May 2, the Ohio House slipped a provision into a budget bill that would move the appointment power for the Commission from the Governor to the legislature. If it goes through, that would mean the Republican legislature could fill the four vacant seats and the Commission could begin allowing drilling in state parks. This could force Gov. Kasich to make a tough call and it may be an interesting reflection on his national ambitions.
Despite the challenges with Ohio park land, there is prime natural gas producing acreage in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia ready to be acquired. Contact Cimmaron Land to be guided through the process by some of the top land brokers in the region.