On January 6, 2023, Governor Mike DeWine signed legislation that will open many of Ohio’s most cherished state parks and forest lands to oil and gas extraction. This new law, House Bill 507, directs the state’s Oil and Gas Leasing Commission to accept virtually all applications from drilling companies interested in removing the minerals from state-owned property. HB507 goes further by mandating all state agencies managing public land to negotiate leasing agreements with oil and gas drillers. The lone requirement for the oil and gas industry is that drillers be licensed and insured.
In response to passage of HB507 and the potential risks oil and natural gas drilling poses, community groups, environmental organizations and concerned Ohio citizens have come together to defend our state parks and forests. On April 7, 2023, the Sierra Club issued a press release announcing the organization is challenging HB507 in Ohio’s court system. The Sierra Club, Buckeye Environmental Network, Ohio Environmental Council and Ohio Valley Allies are contesting the law’s constitutionality. The legal firm Earthjustice and counsel from Case Western University Environmental Law Clinic are representing coalition members in the Franklin County court case.
Separate from the court action, volunteer members from the four organizations and other concerned Ohioans are organizing a campaign to challenge the state’s land-use policy in the public arena. Volunteers have formed a nonprofit group named Save Our Parks. This grass roots group hopes to limit leasing awards by raising public awareness about the damage drilling has on natural areas. Group members are organizing teams that will concentrate on monitoring oil and gas leasing activity, developing talking points and utilizing social media. Save Our Parks is seeking additional volunteer participation.
If you would like to support the group, contact Ohio Sierra Club Legislative Committee member Rich Jordan, [email protected], (513) 575-9546.
The Sierra Club opposes the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking). To limit the damage from fracking until it can be ended entirely, the Club calls for prompt closure of loopholes that effectively exempt fracking from important aspects of major national environmental laws.
Video Link: Sierra Club – Fracking 101