Stone sign at opening of Salt Fork Park

Salt Fork State Park, Ohio’s largest state park at 20,000 acres, will have nine well pads
positioned within 395 feet of park borders. Medical experts say people who live within one mile
of a fracking well pad experience increased cancers, asthmas, fertility issues and low birth
weights, along with other chronic diseases. (Photo Provided)

Save Ohio Parks statement on court’s decision to dismiss appeal


Save Ohio Parks is disappointed that our appeal of the Oil and Gas Land Management Commission’s (OGLMC) decision to approve fracking lease nominations in our state parks and wildlife areas was dismissed. But we will continue to advocate for the protection and future of our public lands and public trust.

Ohio statute says it is state policy to use our natural resources responsibly. There is nothing responsible about how water, one of our most precious natural resources, is used in the fracking process. Fracking permanently pulls millions of gallons of water out of our water supply, laces it with toxic, cancer-causing chemicals, injects this mix at high pressure deep into the earth, pulls it back up, and then injects the radioactive waste that results from it into another series of wells—wells that can leak and endanger our water supply.  

Doing this to state parks and wildlife areas that are supposed to be protected – especially during the 75th anniversary of their creation -- is the height of irresponsibility. Five thousand Ohio citizens – who pay for, own, and use our public lands -- submitted public comments against it, but were completely ignored.

Thousands of studies have shown the detrimental effects of fracking on health, including elevated rates of childhood lymphoma, asthma, and low birth rates. Economic studies show fracking does not benefit local communities, while preserving our parks generates $8.1 billion in jobs and tourism for the state each year. Public documents demonstrate a track record of almost daily accidents at oil and gas sites in Ohio.

Ohio is already ground zero for methane emissions 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in destroying our climate. The Appalachian Marcellus and Utica shale region, which includes Ohio, was ranked by ClimateTrace as second in the nation and fourth worldwide for climate-warming methane and greenhouse gas emissions connected to oil and gas production. If more fracking is approved, the United States may not be able to meet our national goals of cutting emissions in half by 2030.

Yet Ohio continues to move forward with fracking our beloved parks and wildlife areas. Why? Because the Ohio legislature has written laws that promote fracking our public lands and keep the names of the companies that want to frack our parks and wildlife areas secret. The DeWine administration has filled the OGLMC with people who appear to believe it is their duty to hurriedly auction our precious public lands off to the highest bidder—without consideration as to how this will impact the public, users of these lands, our environment, and the current uses of these beloved state parks. The legislature and DeWine administration have collectively created an environment that seemingly strives to override the will of Ohioans for their own oil and gas agenda.

This push to frack our state parks and public lands was championed by Ohio’s DeWine administration and the state’s supermajority General Assembly, which has locked voters out of Ohio’s political process through gerrymandered districts for more than a decade. This legislature and administration are dominated by oil and gas industry dark money and kowtow to industry by passing irresponsible energy laws tailor-made for Big Oil, ignoring the will of the people.

Ohio laws must change – and to do that, the legislature must change. Our goals are urgent, but simple: if we want to avoid chronic disease from industrial pollution, have fish in the water and birds in the sky for our children and grandchildren, we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and embrace rapidly expanding renewable energy like wind and solar. Every tenth of a degree in global warming means the extinction of animal, plant, bird, and fish species. Climate change is real, and it is here.

Salt Fork State Park, Valley Run Wildlife Area, and Zepernick Wildlife Area are just the first to come under attack. Save Ohio Parks will continue advocating to protect our public lands. We ask all Ohioans who care about preserving our state parks and wildlife areas to join us Monday, February 26, at 10:30 a.m. at the Oil and Gas Land Management Commission meeting at the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Charles D. Shipley Building, Atrium, 1970 W. Broad St., Columbus, in a show of love and support for our children and grandchildren. We want to do everything we can to leave this planet livable for them.