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Opponents speak out against rules that would allow fracking on Ohio public land

Salt Fork State Park lodge
Salt Fork Lodge and Conference Center
A proposal to allow drilling under Salt Fork State Park was rejected.

A law that could force state agencies to allow oil and gas drilling on Ohio-owned lands took effect on Friday, but some issues surrounding it remain in question.

The state has rejected an offer from Encino Energy in Texas to drill under Salt Fork State Park, saying the process to approve drilling leases hasn’t been set up. So a state commission moved forward on that with a hearing Monday, and a decision on the process is possible next week.

The hearing before the five-member Oil and Gas Commission was small, but all but one person who testified opposes fracking and drilling on public lands.

Aaron Dunbar from Washington County talked about the environmental impact of climate change fueled by oil and gas.

“This is going to kill people. The ones who make decisions on behalf of the oil and gas industry know that what they are doing is going to kill people,” Dunbar said.

Athens County preschool teacher Jenny Morgan said she was speaking for people who love the state parks and for kids.

“How dare you continue to traumatize them with these choices,” Morgan said.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association President Rob Brundrett spoke on specific changes his group would like to see to the rules the commission is considering, but didn’t want to comment on the claims of environmental, health and economic damage made by opponents.