Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bill to Allow Exploration of Ohio's Energy Resources Passes Ohio House

NOTE: HB133 is a bill that will be counted on the WMD Ohio Legislator Scorecard.

COLUMBUS—The Ohio House of Representatives today voted to pass Substitute House Bill 133, which would responsibly develop Ohio’s energy sector while creating jobs and boosting economic development in Ohio.
Specifically, Sub. H.B. 133 asserts that it is the policy of the state to provide access to and support the exploration for, development of, and production of oil and natural gas resources on lands that are owned or controlled by the state. It creates the Oil and Gas Leasing Commission and establishes a procedure by which the commission may enter into leases for oil and gas production on land owned by or under the control of a state agency. These leases would serve to provide additional funding for capital costs, including equipment, renovations and repairs, and acquisition of additional lands.
The Ohio House adopted a Republican amendment to Sub. H.B. 133 that would exclude nature preserves from being nominated or leased for the purpose of developing oil and natural gas resources.
“This bill is fundamentally about the State of Ohio doing something to help its economy without increasing the tax burden on its citizens,” said State Representative John Adams (R-Sidney), who sponsored Sub. H.B. 133. “We need to be taking advantage of the resources we have right here at home in a responsible way, so we can create jobs and generate more economic activity in Ohio.”
“Not only is Ohio trapped in serious fiscal constraints, but Ohioans are also suffering extraordinarily high gas prices that make it difficult for them to drive to work, pick up the kids from school and live their day-to-day lives,” said State Representative Dave Hall (R-Millersburg), the chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. “Ohio’s consumers will all benefit from an increased local energy supply, which will help to reduce overall energy and transportation costs. We cannot miss out on this opportunity to bring jobs, economic growth and lower energy prices to Ohio.”
Currently, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has a backlog of more than half a billion dollars in capital improvements in state parks. This legislation would help to provide funding for these projects and ensure that Ohio’s state parks are protected and remain open to the public.
The House Democrats, despite Rep. Debbie Phillips’ claim that the caucus’s opposition to the bill has nothing to do with drilling but is instead based on the integrity of state parks, offered an amendment through Rep. Denise Driehaus to prohibit energy extraction on any state-owned land—not just state parks. In overreaching the intent of this bill, the House minority caucus has shown that they are disingenuous about their reasons for opposing Sub. H.B. 133 and are politicizing what should be a focus on jobs and modernizing Ohio’s economy.
Sub. H.B. 133 has received the support of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association. It passed by a vote of 54-41 and will now move to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.
Rep. John Adams:

Rep. Hall:

Rep. Mecklenborg:
“Ohio is poised to be a leader in all aspects of energy production,” Mecklenborg said. “We should seize this opportunity, and we have the technology to do it in an environmentally sound way.”