On the two year anniversary of the Bainbridge Explosion, Ohio Senate poised to vote on SB 165 —
But it’s not strong enough
Two years ago this week an accident occurred in Bainbridge Township (near Chagrin Falls) that alerted us all to the dangers of drilling. A driller bored through a local aquifer seeking gas; the gas seeped into the aquifer irreparably polluting the wells of 43 homes. One of the homes was blown off its foundation– blasting its 85-year-old occupants out of bed.
The Ohio Senate is set to vote on the first comprehensive update of Ohio’s Oil and Gas Drilling Legislation in four decades, this week. SB 165, a negotiated bill between the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) does strengthen requirements for abandoned wells and brine injection, as well as provides much needed funding to ODNR’s regulatory program. Read OEC’s Interested Party Testimony.
However, there remain several other important provisions of existing law that either are inadequately strengthened or are not at all proposed for strengthening by SB 165. SB 165 needs to be amended to:
1. Require full disclosure of toxic chemicals used in the drilling process;
2. Hold drillers fully accountable for improper well construction;
3. Maintain the right of affected persons to appeal orders of the ODNR; and
4. Require local officials involvement in the Site Review Process.
OELC filed a request for these necessary amendments to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Yet those amendments, as well as a dozen other bipartisan amendments offered to protect property rights and human health, we systematically tabled by the Committee leadership.
OELC now calls on the whole Ohio Senate to stand up and call for stronger protections in SB 165. As this is a “once in a career” opportunity to update Ohio’s oil and gas drilling regulation, all areas should be examined for reform. SB 165 must, therefore, address issues of public safety and environmental protection based on air emissions and further protections of drinking and groundwater.