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Potential Energy Boom Worries Environmental Activists

The presence of what could be massive amounts of oil and natural gas in shale deposits throughout Ohio has brought a gold-rush type interest in parts of the state. But environmental activists continue to fear for the future of the state’s air, water and land. Ohio Public Radio’s Karen Kasler talked with two top lobbyists about a proposal for changes in laws on oil and gas development.

Tom Stewart with the Ohio Oil and Gas Association and Jack Shaner with the Ohio Environmental Council have very different views on Ohio’s laws on the industry.  Stewart says they’re among the toughest in the country, but Shaner agrees with Republican Attorney General Mike Dewine that they need to be stronger. But Shaner and Stewart agree on one point.

“We need more inspectors. We can have all the strong laws on the books (I agree with that). We need a lot more inspectors than we’re looking at. Look, we’re talking about serious violations. (We’re talking about hiring about 75, Jack.) 131 violations of well operation causing pollution. 55 defective casing, leaking wells. These are not just some faded sign. These are serious violations.”

Stewart says most violations are minor, and that the Attorney General’s proposal to hike fines to $10,000 per day instead of $20,000 per incident could drive conventional producers out of the state.