Dems Named In Drilling Memo Call It "Insulting"
The two Democratic state lawmakers listed as adversaries to a state agencyâs plan to promote drilling in state parks are speaking out. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources crafted a communications plan that drew clear lines between whom they considered allies and who they considered adversaries. The state agency, led by appointees of Republican Gov. John Kasich, created that plan in 2012 to promote the controversial practice of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Included on the list of adversaries were two Democratic representatives, Bob Hagan of Youngstown and Nickie Antonio of Lakewood. Antonio believes sheâs being unfairly targeted for trying to limit fracking, including a ban in Lake Erie. Antonio: âI believe thatâs the best policy for the health and safety of the people of Ohio. And so to call my intentions or my work anything less than that is certainly insulting.â? The Sierra Club of Ohio unveiled the 10-page memo with the help of liberal think tank Progress Ohio. The document warns that the stateâs efforts to lease land to oil and gas companies would be met with âzealous resistance by environmental activists.â? ODNR says it never implemented the plan, but the department defends creating such a strategy and referred to the Sierra Club and Progress Ohio as âsecretly funded extremist groups.â? While ODNR says the plan was never implemented, Hagan strongly disagrees, noting recent language to push various legislation.
This political campaign to discredit critics was in full force when this bill was passed and with the MBR. Again let me emphasizeâthis plan was implemented.
Hagan was asked if a similar communications plan was ever drawn up by a Democratic administration. âIâve never seen it," Hagan says. "Iâve been here for 28 yearsâIâve never seen an organized effort like thisâIâve never seen an effort on behalf of an entire administration directedâagainâby the governor.â? The governorâs spokesperson has said it only makes sense to coordinate and plan ahead on an important issue like natural gas development. Hagan, Antonio and Progress Ohio have all tried to compare this controversy to the bridge closure scandal thatâs plagued New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The two representatives are calling for legislative hearings to further investigate the issue. On Tuesday, a Kasich spokesman told The Columbus Dispatch that the governor now opposes drilling in state parks. That announcement comes three years after Kasich signed a bill allowing drilling in state parks.