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.

Knight Foundation

Lehmans

NOCHE


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

HOF's Canton expansion could take an island and make it a village
I live in the block from Broad St to the Hall of Fame and will be impacted by the expansion. I am in the process of selling my home and planned to long before i...

Cleveland redeploys police to replace rejected red-light traffic cameras
Periodic rotational enforcement without warning does NOT change behavior and the city officials know that. This is the basis of all officer-run enforcement trap...

New enrollment period offers more insurance options
The removal of federal funding for healthcare CO-OPs may limit the growth of the CO-OP movement. http://www.healthcaretownhall.com/?p=6381

The family of Boardman vet killed in Vietnam receives his medals
My name is Mike Eisenbraun. I am Larry's brother. I was 14 years old when Larry was killed in Vietnam. He has been gone for 46 years but it seems like yester...

Cleveland seniors are creating new wealth -- and facing new challenges
Why is anyone surprised that we people over 65 are not retiring? If you have been paying attention, defined company funded pensions were phasing out in the eigh...

Ohio company cuts off a dairy supplier after allegations of animal abuse
these people should be held accountable for their actions. i would be more than pleased to see a year or more behind bars. i will NEVER eat anything that comes ...

Goodyear recruits thousands of vets
What a wonderful interview! Excellent reporting skills by a talented young reporter! I look forward to hearing more from Ms. Schley!

Ohio Democratic Party begins the rebuilding process
I agree 100% with Sen. Brown. I think it is absolutely critical for the Democratic Party in Ohio to engage in the long, tedious, hard task of re-building from t...

They're talking again in the Macedonia bridge dispute
Norfolk Southern says the Ledge road bridge meets regulations for train traffic, however it was built as an overpass for a roadway and/or farm usage. I think t...

Cleveland City Council to consider transgender public restroom law
this is sick. I do not want my daughter in the same bathroom as a perverted 45 year old man. this proposed legislation could seriously damage the security of ch...

Copyright © 2014 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