Despite protests, Ohio commission opens state park, wildlife areas to fracking
Bidding can now begin for companies that want to frack under Salt Fork State Park and two Ohio-owned wildlife areas. The Oil and Gas Land Management Commission approved seven of 10 requests at a raucous meeting this week. The decision opens thousands of acres of land in Guernsey, Carroll and Columbiana counties to exploration for oil and gas.
The program to lease public lands for fracking has been on the books since 2011. But it took a new law from lawmakers passed last year to expedite the process. The law allows for surface drilling on state-owned lands, but Governor DeWine says he will not approve that.
A lawsuit filed by environmental groups to overturn the land leasing program is still pending.
The National Transportation Safety Board says its investigation into a chain reaction crash that killed six people Tuesday could take up to a year. The crash involved a charter bus carrying the Tusky Valley Marching Swing Band and chaperones, a tractor trailer and several other vehicles.
The crash happened on Interstate 70 near Columbus. Three students on the bus died as did three adults following the bus in a vehicle. Those adults include two teachers and an adult chaperone.
Lawmakers in Columbus are trying to work out how best to implements the new abortion rights amendment. But Senate President Matt Huffman says an abortion issue will not be on an Ohio ballot anytime soon.
Ohio voters decisively approved an amendment to guarantee abortion rights and reproductive health protections in last week's election. Issue 1 passed with just under 57% support.
Huffman also said this week that the chamber will work on making changes to the newly-passed recreational marijuana statute. Governor DeWine has said he would like lawmakers to tweak the new law before it goes into effect December 7.
The law passed by 14-points by voters in the November election allows for the recreational use and cultivation of marijuana for those 21 and older.
The campaign to raise money for a 2024 ballot issue to increase the cigarette tax levy for arts funding was put on pause this week. Arts organizations and artists in Cuyahoga County receive money from the tax. But there have been concerns raised over how the agency that distributes those funds—Cuyahoga Arts and Culture operates. Fred Bidwell an influential arts leader announced the pause in an opinion piece on Cleveland.com.
The nonprofit Cleveland Public Market Corporation will take over the day-to-day operations of the iconic West Side Market in 2024. The Market has faced struggles recently including a vendor vacancy rate of 32%. The city currently runs the market at a financial loss, despite it being among the city's most popular attractions.
We will discuss these stories and others this week on the Reporters Roundtable.
-Abbey Marshall, Reporter, Ideastream Public Media
-Conor Morris, Education Reporter, Ideastream Public Media
-Karen Kasler, Statehouse News Bureau Chief, Ohio Public Radio/TV
Watch the discussion in the player below.