Ohio bill could require gas and oil drilling in public parks

A bill that could require that public parks permit drilling for gas and oil within their borders has passed the Ohio House and is currently pending in the Senate, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. HB8 deals with a process known as unitization, an eminent domain-like process that can force hold-out property owners to grant drilling rights when surrounding owners agree to them. According to the Plain Dealer, the bill would expand this process and have a particular impact on public lands. The bill has language that specifically exempts state parks and state nature preserves from these requirements,but does not include local public lands, such as city and county parks, which would lose any local say in whether to grant drilling rights.

The Plain Dealer later reported that the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association has drafted an amendment that would also exempt county parks from the mandated drilling. The amendment will be presented to the Senate, which will debate the bill in the coming months. According to the article, Woody Woodward of the Parks and Recreation Association argues that the portion of the bill that would require public parks to permit drilling goes too far. Proponents of the bill say that it will protect the rights of property owners who want to profit from drilling on their land.

The text of the bill as well as the Ohio Legislative Service Commission analysis is available, here.

Photo depicts Whipps Ledges in the Hinckley Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks, a locally operated public parks district. Photo credit: Analogue Kid via Wikipedia.