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Ohio Senate Approves Drilling in State Parks

State parks and other lands in Ohio will be opened to oil and gas drilling under a bill that has passed the state Senate on Wednesday.

The Senate voted 22-10 on the legislation that sets up a commission to oversee oil and gas leasing. It also requires state agencies to create property inventories that could yield potential drilling sites.

The House has passed the bill, but would have to agree to the Senate's changes before it could go to the governor's desk.

The bill's supporters say Ohio could get fees and royalties of up to 9 million. Some proceeds would go to habitat protection and wildlife preservation.

Hydraulic fracturing blasts chemical-laced water into the ground to access stores of gas in once out-of-reach shale formations. Opponents of the bill say the state parks have historically been off limits to drilling and allowing it will harm scenic views and groundwater.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce says it has already formed the group that will promote the natural gas drilling.

The Ohio Shale Coalition says a group of Ohio universities will do an economic impact study, with preliminary results due out in September.