Oil and gas interests are spending big to keep their allies in office
BERKELEY, CA — ”In the past four years the oil and gas industry has given more than $200,000 to Kasich, making him the state’s top recipient of campaign contributions from oil and gas companies. Since 2001, Kasich received more than twice as much money from fossil fuel interests as any other state office holder.
For the industry, this is money well spent. Soon after taking office in January 2011, Kasich opened 200,000 acres in Ohio’s state parks for drilling and appointed a former oil and gas executive to run the state’s Department of Natural Resources. Even after the industry’s statehouse allies annoyed the governor by blocking his modest plans to impose a small severance tax on drilling, Kasich’s loyalty remained firm. In May, the governor approved new fracking rules for the state that will, among other things, prohibit Ohio citizens or local governments from appealing any drilling permits, prevent doctors from disclosing whether patients’ ailments might be related to drilling, and allow for well casings to be set within 50 feet of groundwater aquifers – half the distance recommended by the American Petroleum Institute. EcoWatch has called the legislation, parts of which were written by the gas industry and its lobbyists, “one of the worst fracking laws in the nation.”
As a political swing state on the cusp of a drilling boom, Ohio is at the cutting edge of the nation’s debate over how to meet our energy needs. The statehouse wrangling over gas regulations – along with the huge amounts of money being spent there to influence voters ahead of the fall election – provides a window into how the fossil fuel industry plays an outsized role in shaping politics and policy.”
— Sharon Kelly, Earth Island Institute