Ohio Finally Opens Energy Development Under State Lands
After more than a decade in the making, the Ohio Oil and Gas Land Management Commission (OGLM) voted today to allow for the safe development of oil and natural gas resources under the surface of state-owned lands and parks. This is a win for landowners and their right to develop private minerals close to and adjacent to Ohio state lands, as well as a massive economic win for Eastern Ohio, the entire state, and Ohio taxpayers.
The opened parcels include land underneath Salt Fork State Park in Guernsey County, Valley Run Wildlife Area in Carroll County, and Zepernick Wildlife Area in Columbiana County. Bids will be accepted starting in January, and companies are already showing they are ready to invest in the state, helping to create local jobs and develop crucial energy resources.
For example, EID has discussed before that a proposed lease to access natural gas and oil beneath Salt Fork State Park would have generated $1.8 billion in estimated royalties and lease bonus payments. This highlights the economic value deals like this will have for Ohio landowners, taxpayers, and parkgoers alike.
Today’s OGLM vote proceeded despite the many interruptions and outbursts from protestors who repeatedly disrupted the meeting. Cleveland.com described these outbursts:
“At one point, activists effectively hijacked the meeting. Roughly a dozen or so stood in front of the commissioners holding a “NO FRACKING OUR OHIO PUBLIC LANDS” sign, obstructing view of commissioners. Chants and a sing-along forced a roughly 15-minute recess.” (emphasis added)
This is no surprise: EID has repeatedly discussed the continued obstruction from activists and debunked their claims that oil and gas development harms Ohio lands. To the contrary, oil and gas development can actually boost Ohio’s conservation efforts as evidenced by the “bold” partnership between the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) and oil and gas producers.
A new analysis just this week shows that energy development in the MWCD has brought $1 billion of economic impact to the region and made it a record-setting site for tourism due to facility upgrades made possible by Utica Shale revenues. The energy development has also supported 2,606 jobs totaling nearly $300 million in wages and benefits, while bringing increases in state and local tax revenue and growth in related industries such as transportation and infrastructure – all while promoting and protecting Ohio’s lands.
Bottom Line: Today’s vote is a win for landowners, a win for taxpayers, and importantly – with over a decade of evidence showing the safe and responsible development of Ohio’s natural resources and oil and gas partnerships actually increasing sustainability efforts – it’s a win for Ohio’s lands too.