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Environment & Energy

Ohio Lawmakers May Force Local Parks To Allow Oil and Gas Drilling

Historic Mill Creek Park
Tim Rudell
Mill Creek Park Dam

Local parks in Ohio could be forced into oil and gas “drilling units” if the state Senate adopts the budget bill as passed by the House. Managers and supporters of many local parks, including in northeast Ohio, are joining efforts to keep that from happening.

An amendment to H.B. 49 — the state operating budget — says if 65 percent of property owners around a proposed oil and  gas “drilling unit” agree to be part of it, the other 35 percent can be forced to join. That can include public entities like park districts -- although state parks are exempted.

Mill Creek Metro Pareks
Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
A Lake View In Mill Creek Parl

Local park district leaders like Aaron Young of Mill Creek Metro Parks are concerned.

“Essentially what the bill does is take the decision- making on whether or not drilling can be allowed on or under the park land out of the hands of those that have a say in the governance of the metro parks.”

The Senate is running H.B 49 through committees to decide what if anything to change. A final vote on the measure is expected by mid-June. The two-year budget must be in place by July 1.