News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Hennes Paynter Communications

Metro RTA


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Ohio


Environmentalists uncover Ohio Department of Natural Resources enemies list
Memo targets adversaries to ODNR's plans for fracking in state parks
by WKSU's ANDY CHOW


Reporter
Andy Chow
 
A fracking rig in Carroll County. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources oversees oil and gas drilling in Ohio, a relationship that environmentalists feel is too cozy. A memo discovered by the Sierra Club reveals ODNR's list of friends and enemies.
Courtesy of Tim Rudell, WKSU
Download (WKSU Only)

UPDATE 8:45 A.M. Feb 18, 2014: A statement from the governor's office defending the planning has been added to this story

An environmental group has discovered a controversial playbook that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources drew up to tackle oil and gas drilling issues.

As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, the plan raises questions about the relationship between a state agency and the industry it’s supposed to regulate.

 

Andy Chow on ODNR fracking plan

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:54)


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources crafted a communications plan to educate Ohioans about horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, in state parks. That plan categorized groups in the state as allies and adversaries; and warned that the department’s efforts would be met with “zealous resistance by environmental activists.”

Shades of Nixon's enemies list
Brian Rothenberg, from the liberal think tank Progress Ohio says the plan lays out a public-relations hit list.

Rothenberg says ODNR approached the PR challenge "in a very ‘Nixonian’ way" and that "the Kasich administration through the Department of Natural Resources had an enemies list over drilling in public parks and a public relations program that they put together in an effort to discredit or neutralize those groups that they thought would be opposed to drilling in public parks.”

Reps. Antonio and Hagan targeted as fracking adversaries
The adversary list included environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and the Ohio Environmental Council, along with Democratic Reps. Bob Hagan of Youngstown and Nickie Antonio of Lakewood.

The Sierra Club uncovered the memo while sifting through a batch of records it requested from the department.

Brian Kunkemoeller with the Sierra Club says this plan demonstrates a fundamental conflict with the relationship between ODNR and the oil and gas industry.

“This is a very sad day for our democracy where the agency that’s supposed to be regulating fracking and protecting our public lands is working in alliance with the industry itself.," Kunkemoeller says. "The document admits — and we agree — that this blurs the perception of ODNR’s ability to regulate oil and gas.”

Extremist groups?
According to a report from The Columbus Dispatch, a spokesman for Gov. John Kasich says the governor’s office never knew about this plan. But the Sierra Club released another document that appears to schedule a meeting in order to discuss this communications strategy. That email is addressed to several top staffers in the governor’s office.

A statement issued by the governor's spokesman Rob Nichols after the story broke says, “I don’t know what specific pieces of paper different people saw a year and a half ago, but of course the administration is going to coordinate and plan ahead on an important issue like gas production on state land. If we didn’t, these same extremist groups would be attacking us for not planning ahead.”

And ODNR says it never implemented the plan. However, in light of the surfaced email, Progess Ohio's Rothenberg is questioning what's true.

Trust in ODNR eroded 
And Rothenberg questions where the state agency stands, "Have they had similar meetings on other issues where they’ve tried to neutralize Ohioans to protect businesses?" he asks. "What did the governor know and when did he know it.”

Kunkemoeller adds that his group can draw direct correlations from strategies in the plan. He says groups from across the state "are citing specific examples of a way this has happened.”

ODNR characterizes it as defense against extremists
The ODNR would not answer questions on the subject, offering only a written statement from department spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle.

She defends the decision to draw up a communications plan, adding, “the fact that these secretly funded extremists groups are attacking us today validates the wisdom of anticipating the attack and planning for it.”

Tom Stewart is executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, an advocacy group for the industry. Stewart was asked about the plan while talking on WCPN’s call-in show The Sound of Ideas in Cleveland. Stewart says he hasn’t seen the memo but, from his understanding, ODNR did nothing wrong.

Stewart says ODNR is acting in accordance with the wishes of the Legislature, and "were developing a plan that the General Assembly gave them authorization to do, which is to lease state-owned property -- a process that goes on in nearly every other state where the state owns state property.”

Reps. Hagan and Antonio, the two legislators specifically called out in the memo, are expected to address the plan on Tuesday.

Listener Comments:

The ODNR needs to remember that its mission is environmental protection.


Posted by: Albert Couch (Akron) on February 19, 2014 7:02AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Ohio's attorney general rejectsthe latest proposal to legalize marijuana
i think the ag launguage is money hes talking about drug companies must pay him more than responsible ohio can

PBS documentary chronicles the fall of Saigon through new footage and stories
Hi, Does anyone know the number - in the pbs special "Last Days of Vietnam" documentary, of how many Vietnamese were evacuated? Please e-mail me the answer. T...

Protest planned at tomorrow's FirstEnergy meeting
The problems of the poor and downtrodden have nothing to do with First Energy. They are the result of Republican legislators who consistently reduce taxes on th...

Ohio bill would help smaller communities with LGBT discrimination laws
Do we not try and have rights for all individuals equally? On the HUD list of "preferred" candidates who get "special consideration" it states that: For purp...

Ohio likely will continue with two types of police academies
Wake up people your wanting a Harvard law school education for a job that may pay a little over the poverty level. I don't know anyone who could support a wife ...

Police Week's ties from NE Ohio to D.C.
The men and women in blue who risk their lives everyday to serve and protect us....and this is as much recognition and appreciation that NPR/WKSU feels to offer...

First in a Series: How charter schools got a foothold in Ohio
If the interest where in education and there would be oversight of taxpayer dollars, charter schools would be okay. However, Charter School in Ohio are purely f...

Near West Theater raises the curtain at its new home with 'Shrek the Musical'
When I heard you were doing an article about the Near West Theater, I was very excited, because I had seen the lobby artwork in process on the floor of the arti...

Northeast Ohio pastors want to talk reform with Akron-based FirstEnergy
It's great that this First Energy bailout request is getting media coverage. First Energy is asking to be allowed to NOT find the best costing energy to sell us...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University