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Inadequate enforcement means current Ohio oil and gas development is irresponsible

The Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management (DOGRM) within Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is responsible for permitting, inspections and enforcement of oil and gas regulations in Ohio. Prior to October 2011, the oil and gas program was under the Division of Mineral Resources Management (DMRM).

Ohio has been an oil- and gas-producing state since the 1850s. Most of Ohio’s 64,500 active wells are classified as “stripper” wells, which are wells that produce minimal amounts of oil and gas on a daily basis.

Ohio has yet to experience the oil and gas shale drilling boom of its neighbor Pennsylvania, where more than 5,700 unconventional shale gas wells have been drilled since 2005. As of August 2012, just 112 horizontal oil and gas shale wells had been drilled in Ohio.

The state of Ohio, however, is expected to experience “a significant increase in future drilling,” as much of the state sits over the Utica Shale formation, which experts predict holds large natural gas reserves and potentially oil, and much leasing of the Utica shale has already occurred.

By any reasonable measure, the DOGRM is failing to fulfill its duty to enforce Ohio’s oil and gas rules, and is ill-prepared for an oil and gas drilling boom. In particular:

  • Inspection capacity is inadequate;
  • Violations are inadequately reported and tracked, what information exists is opaque to the public;
  • Fines are rarely issued to violators;
  • Fines are inadequate to punish or prevent irresponsible behavior by oil and gas operators;
  • The environment is not being protected.

Consequently, the public cannot and should not have confidence that oil and gas development is occurring or will occur responsibly in the state of Ohio.

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